Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Resources for Developers, Part 1

One of my goals as Developer Evangelist is to ensure that everyone can use Real Studio as effectively as possible. I'd like to cover the resources we provide to you. In Part 1, I am covering the free resources that are available to all Real Studio developers.

Obviously if you're reading this post you know about our blog. But take a moment to make sure you have subscribed to the RSS feed with your favorite news reader. I use Google Reader on my Mac and Reeder on my iPhone and iPad.

Blog RSS Feed: http://www.realsoftwareblog.com/feeds/posts/default

All our documentation currently resides on our Documentation Wiki: http://docs.realsoftware.com

The benefit of a wiki is that we can more easily update it.  Being web-based, you can also access it easily on your mobile devices.

For times when a local copy is more convenient, each release of Real Studio incudes a local copy of the wiki.  By default when you click on one of the Help topics in the Help menu of the IDE, you get the web-based help in the IDE's documentation viewer.  If you would rather see the local help, you can hold down Option (Mac-only) while clicking the menu.  There is also a Preference in the General section to select which version of the documentation you want to see by default.

Updating documentation is one of my primary responsibilities and you should see many changes in the coming weeks and months.

I realize that the wiki is not as usable as some people might like, but it still has a lot of useful content with more on the way.  I will be working hard to make the documentation as good as it can be.  If you do find problems with the documentation or have suggestions for improvement, please file a Feedback case on it the same as you would for Real Studio itself.

Example Projects
Many people prefer to learn from example.  Fortunately, Real Studio comes with a lot of example projects.  You can view all of these in the New Project window when Real Studio launches.  Expand the Examples item in the Listbox to quickly open any example project.

In the coming weeks, I wil be reviewing and updating all the example projects.  I also expect to add several new examples.  If you do find problems with the examples or have suggestions for new examples, please file a Feedback case the same as you would for Real Studio itself.

Community Discussion
Real Software has both discussion forums and a mailing list for our customers to communicate with each other. Personally, I prefer to use discussion forums rather than mailing lists, but we've kept both around because people often prefer one over the other.

You can visit the forums here:

You can subscribe to the mailing list here:

I will remind you that the forums and mailing lists are for our customers to communicate with each other. Although Real Studio employees often visit and reply to posts in both these areas, they are not official support channels. Personally, I try to read most forum and mailing lists posts, but I tend to post more on the forums than I do on the mailing lists.

Next Time
Next week, in Part 2, I will talk about our paid offerings that can enhance your Real Studio experience.

In the meantime, I'd like to point out that you can just ask me.  If you are evaluating Real Studio and have some questions, ask me. If you have a question about Real Studio, but don't think it's appropriate for the forums or NUG, ask me. Maybe I'll turn the answer into a blog post! If you need some help writing up a Feedback case, ask me. If you have an older version of Real Studio and are considering renewing or upgrading, ask me. If you have questions about consulting, ask me.



olivier said...

In user'guide: Doc concerning the WE should be collected in a separate guide.

Gerrut said...

I have been thinking about new developers resources for a while before I decided to answer. The point I want to make is that Real should actually also do something for the third party community. Of course, they are companies in their own right, and should provide their own resources in a readable way, but I do think working together might be good for Real as well as the third party developers.

For example, it is very important for some developers to know there is a plugin to build rich text fields (FTC), but not everyone will see it when they do a trial with Real. So it would be nice if Real could provide a tutorial on how to use this control. The benefits to Real are that programmers will see the opportunity for FTC and therefore will be easier to convert to Real. For True North the benefit lies in more customers and having a good tutorial so relatively inexperienced programmers will also be able to incorporate the control.

Another great sample are the controls by Christian Schmitz. Great controls, but his examples lack good tutorials. I could not get the Java-classes to work as the sample does not help me to understand why things are done in a certain way and how I can bend this to the Java class I want to incorporate in my program. A pity as I think this would be a much neater solution than using the shell. With some help from Real I think interest for his classes and for Real Basic as a programming language will increase.

What Real Basic is also missing in comparison to other languages are good books on how to program in RealBasic. The book by Matt Neuburg has been written a loooong time ago, but can still be read on Safari Books Online. Maybe a deal can be made to update the book? The basics are still solid, but some controls such as the EditFields he uses do not exist anymore, which is irritating. And new features have been added that should be explained.

And when I am starting on Safari Books Online: many books from Pearson have a code for a 1 month membership. Would it also be an idea to create something similar for new users of Real Studio? For example download credits for RB Garage and a free issue of RS Developer?

As you can see I am mainly thinking in collaborations to enhance the standard resources for RealBasic at a minimum of costs. However, there are also things that can be done by Real without help from third parties. Personally I would like to see some tutorials on the following subjects:
- using the canvas control
- vector images
- building buttons and custom controls from canvas
- using xml/JSON etc for communication with webservers
- how to improve your GUI (the standard buttons are a bit lacking nowadays)

If Real would be interested in creating new tutorials, we arrive at the question: what makes a good tutorial? Nowadays you see lots of video tutorials. I myself am not a fan of those as you have to watch the whole video before you know anything at all and can’t just read it/look up small bits of code at your own pace. Some people also think just providing a sample project is enough as a tutorial. Even though you can learn a lot about programming this way, for newbies this is not the way as they do not know yet where to start. Besides, a good sample needs variables that are easy to interprete and comments to show what is important and why you should do it this way.

Paul Lefebvre said...

@Olivier: We are considering ways to make the User Guide more useful for WE developers.

@Gerrut: I appreciate the thoughtful feedback. We are already looking into some of the things you've suggested, but you've given me some additional good ideas to add to my list. Thanks so much!