Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The future of REALbasic and REAL Server

A customer recently asked what our long term vision is for REALbasic. That's a good question that I haven't discussed in a while.

Currently we are working on supporting Cocoa for Mac OS X to replace the Carbon framework we currently support. We will begin beta testing very soon.

The web continues to be a platform we are interested in supporting and we are doing research into the best way to support it.

Supporting the iPhone is the number one feature requested by our users. That fact is not lost on us. The Cocoa work we are doing now, as well as other prerequisites to iPhone support, are in the works.

REAL Server will also play an increasingly important role for those deploying multi-user applications.

I can't promise you a time-frame for these technologies, but I can promise you that they are important to us and that we continue to move towards supporting them. We are more focused than ever on listening closely to what is most important to you, our customers, and delivering the technologies that enable your success.


Russ said...

It sounds like you are saying that REAL is planning to support the iPhone as a target (eventually) and that you are actively assembling the prerequisites.

Is that a good interpretations? If so, it seems like Really Big News.

Geoff Perlman said...

That's correct. It is our intention to eventually support the iPhone and possibly other mobile devices (depending on customer requests). There are pieces that need to be put into place before we can do that so we are working on those. That doesn't mean of course that there could not be some other impediment that is unknown at this time.

The good news is that these prerequisites will have benefits to the current product as well.

Toro Bravo said...

Forgive me for being a little bit blunt, but the iphone has been around for more than 2.5 years. Don't you think you're a little late to the party???

If a developer had an idea that he wanted to bring to the iphone, chances are that it's already contained in the over 100,000 apps that are available today.

Instead of thinking about an iphone app, you might want to think about the "iPad" (or whatever it will be called) because the rumor is that it will have its own app store.

Geoff Perlman said...

I have no doubt that there are developers that have already learned how to develop iPhone apps using Apple's tools. However, Apple's tools are not for everyone. I'm quite certain there are a LOT of people out there that would like to develop software for the iPhone but find XCode and Objective-C to difficult to learn. Also, remember that app store apps are only a part of the story. There are a lot of apps that are not in the app store but are developed for internal use.

Jordan said...

Interesting. Good news for sure. The problem is, exactly how long will this support take? Not that I'm complaining. I love realbasic. I'm sure once you support Cocoa, iPhone is trivial, what about Android?

Geoff Perlman said...

Cocoa helps but it doesn't make iPhone trivial. I really wish it did. Regarding Android, we are not yet getting a lot of requests for it. If we do, we will certainly consider it.

Paul Levine said...

If iPhone/Android apps are a question of time/resources and not of feasibility with REALBasic, I would put every dollar I had towards that goal to get it done as quickly as possible.

Mobile applications are not just the hottest thing but also the future and if the ability to jump on this opportunity is available I would want to be among the first.

A cross platform tool that does Desktop, Mobile and Web apps? Why would you use anything else?

Reporting tools, new controls etc... can be left to third party developers (improving the third party community of RB is another topic).

Just my 2 cents :)...

MGV said...

And then perhaps borrow some money and put that also into iPhone app development suite.

I find the whole objective c environment not nearly as nice as real basic.

Just my 2c worth

Unknown said...

Good news. Can't wait to see Cocoa Support.

@Toro: While the iPhone has existed for 2.5 years the app store and true SDK has not. Remember at first Apple had only the ability for 3rd parties to write web apps for the iPhone. I think the App store has only been around since July of 08. Even though there are 100k apps, that doesn't mean you cannot make a groundbreaking app or companion to an existing RB app. Competition is good, it inspires innovation.

face said...

long terms means 1 year or more ?
Actually Apple seems not to allow third part companies to create tools for develop application on iPhone, is it correct ?
How do you'll solve that ?
Anyway, thanks for the great news.

Anonymous said...

Sounds good following the announcement of flash developing apps for the iphone in 2010.

Anonymous said...

This was a good post. I like hearing the roadmap, and knowing you have one. And you can do that without having to pin yourself to dates - we're your customers and we want RealBasic to be successful, too.

The Cocoa migration is key. OSX is here for awhile, and you'll be ready for whatever comes next.

But... I still don't get RealServer. How are you planning to differentiate it meaningfully from MySql?

Steveorevo said...

Since interface and xcross platform is in RB's box of fortes. How about aiming towards being a suitable replacement for Adobe's ill-marketed and positioned 'Director'.

Sprite-based, behavior OOP development and their timeline analogy lends itself well to game development (as Flash has proven with its self competing design). But Director (which is sorely supported and virtually abandoned by Adobe) has an underrated key position for kiosk, game, 3D, cross platform (as in just two platforms) development. RB is so much more, but absorbing these two features (sprite/timeline support coupled with 3D) would make it a perfect replacement. An even better replacement to Adobe Director.

Anonymous said...

Why not an application server? I would love to write RealBasic services for SOAP.

Vincent said...

Very, very late decision by RB. Too late IMO, a major strategic error to ignore the iPhone so long.

I've already switched to Mono Touch. They will have Basic support in two months and have C-sharp available now.

Ed said...

Meanwhile, Realserver (a server program) doesn't work on Windows 2003 server (a widely deployed server OS) and tech support is still "working on a solution"....

It's embarrassing to deploy a product, then tell your customers you have to un-deploy it because REAL never told developers that they are selling a product for Windows Server that "isn't working yet, but soon....."

Geoff Perlman said...

We are not ignoring the iPhone. We know how much people want to be able to develop for it with REALbasic. But Mono Touch is a more complex solution that we feel REALbasic users are looking for.

Anonymous said...

Hey, thank for the Mono Touch recommendation! I hadn't heard about that.

I would rather take three months to learn Mono Touch than wait two+ years for REAL to ship iPhone support. (Remember that Cocoa support was announced almost four years ago.)

Pharaoh Atem said...

Perhaps REALbasic should aim towards the game development market, REALbasic is relatively unknown and it would be easier to use REALbasic to develop games over C/C++ and other frameworks.

Of course this would probably warrant another edition of REALbasic that would include stuff more suitable for game development, but meh.

Sadly, there doesn't seem to be a lot of faith in you guys. The Cocoa situation seems to make people think that you guys aren't ever going to get anything you promised available....

Anonymous said...

Real Software is a good company, and they have delivered a consistently solid product for a number of years.

But are you really challenging yourself to be a great company?

The delays in Cocoa and iPhone are forcing even your loyal clients to look elsewhere. And Google's new Go language should be embarrassing to Real... four guys providing real and significant innovation, while Real Software continues to tinker on the margins.

I am a fan of Real. But I am also someone that needs solid tools to feed his family. Your desktop model is solid, but is really starting to show its age.

Are you going to run apps on iPhone and Android in 2010? What about Chrome OS? Will your UI model survive the transition to touch? How will RealBasic code run on 8 and 16 core systems, 64 bit, Atom processors?

Look, you need a roadmap that provides a 3 to 5 year plan for your customers. You need to step up to significant enhancements and stop playing in the margins (the "pair"? seriously, that was your big add for a release? geez).

Look, I've been a good customer for 4 years. But the industry is advancing and your product is not. If you're assuming our apps need a mouse in 3 years... you need to hire a new Systems Architect. Tomorrow.

Geoff Perlman said...

Multi-core support is a popular request and we have been looking into ways to support it that don't require our customers to be extremely careful so their apps don't crash. For those of you that haven't looked into this, you can't ask another core to do just anything. For example, the GUI layer of Mac OS X, Windows and Linux are not thread safe. So any code that deals with that can't run in a pre-emptive thread. The only code that can is the code that does your data processing. So we really need to make it so that the IDE helps you to make sure you don't do something that might cause your app to crash.

One way you can take advantage of multi-core today is to build your data processing logic in a console application (which you can build with REALbasic) and then use IPCSockets or the Shell to communicate with that application. The OS will hand that application off to another core if it's available. This is not as good as having a preemptive thread class built right in to REALbasic but it will get the job done.

Regarding 64 bit, in building our new Cocoa-based platform layer, we have made it 64 bit so that's a step. Eventually we will do this for Windows and Linux as well but just aren't getting requests for 64 bit like we do multi-core support.

Neil Curry said...

iPhone support would get my money on the table.

I tried to learn Objective C but I just can't grasp it.

HTML, PHP, MySQL and even a bit of JavaScript I can handle, even RealBASIC.

Sid said...

I agree with Paul. Ive been a happy user of Valentina Developer Network for REALbasic with Valentina Reports. All the Paradigma guys do is make an incredibly fast database that I can scale up. REAL should concentrate on making its core product better rather than competing with its own 3rd party developers. Check it out at

Tomas Sancio said...

Personally, I think Real is better off focusing itself as a competitor to the different back-end technologies such as PHP, Coldfusion, J2EE,, etc.

Apple and Adobe are moving too fast with their iPhone and Flash platforms for a smaller company to catch up with their front-end innovations. But on the back-end there is real value to be added with RB's TCP/IP and SQL capabilities. Your plugins are great for connecting to different types of databases and SQL commands are easy to work with. Everything is included to create a robust server that can sit on a Windows, Mac or Linux machine.

My other advice is to make the language (or a version of the language) less permissive. For example, not caring about caps and semi-colons used to be a feature for me, now I find it a bug since it makes it harder to move across different languages.

Congratulations for your product, the software I've developed with RB has fed my family for the past 5 years and I hope it will still for years to come.