Have a REAL Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s Thanksgiving week in the United States and it’s traditionally a time where we give thanks for another good year.  This year I’d like to give a big shout-out to REAL Software for REAL Studio.  Thanks, REAL Software!

I’ve been pretty hard on REAL Software the past three or four months.  I’ve been bitten hard by several bugs and I’ve been pretty vocal about it.  As one of the regular commenters noted to a disgruntled user:

As much as we whine and complain, we all have a love/hate relationship with REAL Studio. We love it for its easy-to-use IDE, it’s readable but powerful language, its ability to compile cross-platform apps, etc.

My sentiments exactly!  REAL Studio is incredibly easy to use.  REALbasic, the language, is pretty well thought out.  It gets better with every release which happens every 90 days (sometimes less).

REAL Studio, when you get down to it, doesn’t let you make too many mistakes.  It does everything it can to prevent you from doing something stupid.  It’s a development tool and that’s about as complex a piece of software as you’re going to get and it does it on three platforms (four if you count Cocoa as another platform and five if you count the new Web Edition).  Auto-complete isn’t perfect, but it’s useful in learning the language.  Sure, I wish it had some more powerful features/tools built in to it, but for the most part it’s easy-to-use.

I’ve spent some time in xCode recently and it’s not the same.  It has a tremendous learning curve.  There are settings all over the place and I’m actually quite amazed that Apple, being the user interface experts, have such a crappy IDE.  Auto-complete?  Please.  It’s barely usable unless you know exactly what you want before you start typing.  Granted, I’ve not spent 1,000 hours in xCode but I think it’s safe to say that REAL Studio has a MUCH shorter learning curve.

The REALbasic framework also seems to make much more sense than quite a bit of the Cocoa frameworks.  The RB frameworks are fairly logical and encapsulated rather nicely (there are notable exceptions) but it seems (to a newbie at least) that the Cocoa frameworks are all over the place in terms of logical encapsulation and usability.  I’ve heard enough complaints from .NET developers to wonder if many of the same issues don’t exist there as well.

Could it be that a smaller development group actually makes framework development easier, or at least more coherent?  Very few people (in relative terms) have touched the RB framework over the years than either Cocoa or .NET.  I think this is a good thing because the RB framework is remarkably consistent.

Whether you like the 90 day release cycle or not, it makes REAL Studio predictable.  You know, to within a couple of weeks, when the next version will be out.  This is nice to know.  It’s also nice that RS has release several point releases when the large bugs have been found and reported.

Sure, it drives me nuts that old bugs sometimes reoccur and new bugs were introduced in recent releases.  Sure, I find it hard to believe that new features haven’t been thoroughly documented and vetted before release.  But at the same time I feel that my public bitching and whining (and that’s what it really was) may have gotten the point across that it’s unacceptable for my business.

In the long run, I’m thankful for REAL Studio.  It pays the bills for my family and my employees.  From a consulting standpoint I can create really rich and complex applications for Mac, Windows and Linux with minimal platform specific code.  Is it perfect?  Of course not, but I’ve not found a better environment for me and my clients.

REAL Studio is a Rapid Application Development (RAD) tool.  It takes me days to create a rich application that takes weeks to do in other tools.  Many features are remarkably full-featured and have stood the test of time since they haven’t changed much in the nine years I’ve been using REAL Studio.  The fact that they’ve added some pretty powerful language features, that maybe 10% of the user base will ever use, speaks for how powerful and expandable the language and platform really is.

It’s easy to focus on the negatives, but this week I’m going out of my way to say thanks.  I’m thankful for (in no particular order) awesome clients, a successful business, good health, good friends, an awesome employee, my super wonderful family, and yes, even REAL Software.

I’m thankful for all the hard work that REAL Software has put into REAL Studio.  So thank you to all the men and women of REAL Software.  I wish you much success, happiness and prosperity in the future!