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Developer Tool First Look: REALbasic 2005 for Linux is on the way...

Novell Cool Solutions: Feature
By Richard Smith

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Posted: 21 Jul 2005
 

Richard Smith
Developer Content Manager
Novell, Inc

REAL Software has announced that its flagship product, REALbasic 2005 will be available soon for developers on the Linux platform. REALbasic 2005 will allow developers who use Visual Basic 6 to migrate their development to Linux. REALbasic 5.5 has provided developers with a means to develop their applications on either Windows or Mac and compile those applications to run on Linux, but the Linux version of REALbasic 2005 will enable the use of a full-featured integrated development environment (IDE) on Linux.

REAL Software has also announced that the standard edition of REALbasic 2005 for Linux will be free. This will enable developers to build feature rich desktop applications in much the same fashion as Windows and Mac developers have been able to do for some time. As pointed out by REAL Software's president and CEO Geoff Perlman, "REALbasic 2005 for Linux provides a solution to two issues in the Linux market. First is the lack of a good Visual Basic-like development environment and the second is the lack of desktop software for Linux. We believe Linux users can benefit from using REALbasic's powerful, visual development capabilities."

Until the scheduled August release date for REALbasic 2005 of Linux, developers have access to an open beta. You can download the software at http://www.realsoftware.com/download/linux/. Here are a few of the highlights of what REALbasic 2005 for Linux will provide, as outlined on the REAL Software web site.

  • Visual rapid application development (RAD) environment.
  • Highly compatible with Visual Basic and includes a utility to migrate existing applications to REALbasic.
  • Modern, fully object-oriented language that compiles to machine code.
  • REAL SQL Database, a single-user database engine based on SQLite, a public domain database engine.
  • Low and high-level networking capabilities (UDP, TCP, HTTP, SMTP, POP3).
  • Industrial-strength XML parser and generator enables you to read and write XML data with a few lines of code.
  • Royalty-free software distribution.
  • Compatible with major x86 Linux distributions, including SUSE, RedHat, Mandriva/Mandrake, with GTK+ 2.0 (or higher), Glibc-2.3 (or higher) and CUPS (Common UNIX Printing System).
  • REALbasic is now made with REALbasic and is an excellent example of the kind of applications that can be developed with REALbasic.

Here are a couple of basic screenshots to show what the REALbasic 2005 for Linux IDE looks like running on SUSE Linux 9.3 Professional.

This is the starting screen for working with a new REALbasic project. As you can see, as with most modern IDEs the REALbasic IDE provides you with the basic components required for an application.

This next screenshot illustrates the beginning of a small application and show how the components from the Controls palette can easily be placed on your application window.

The window in the application in this case contains a listbox, a progress bar, a push button and two radio buttons. Placing these on the window was as simple as selecting from the palette and drawing on the window. REALbasic handles all the requirements and builds the foundation code behind each object.

So who should care?

REALbasic 2005 is targeted at developers who have applications created with Visual Basic 6 and want to either expanded them, migrate or port them to other platforms or who want a support development environment going forward. Microsoft's commitment to Visual Basic 6 remains in question and REALbasic 2005 provides a bit of comfort to developers that their development tool will be supported and continue to advance.

Also if you are looking for a way to easily support multiple platforms with your application, then REALbasic 2005 might be a good choice for you to use to begin your development.

Organizations with multiple desktops to support would also benefit since a single code base can be used to create versions of the application that will function the same on Windows, Mac or Linux desktops. This can not only simplify the development process, but also make ongoing support easier.

What might be an obstacle?

While REALbasic 2005 does, to a high degree, support Visual Basic 6 source code, this is still not 100% and it will take work to port your existing code. Remember, though, this is a one-time effort and the porting does extend your application to additional platform -- a definite bonus.

If you are not currently a VB or REALbasic developer there will be a learning curve. This is minimized by very good documentation and a lot of sample applications that will help you get up-to-speed. REALbasic has been around for a while, first on the Mac and later with the addition of a Windows version. The addition of the Linux version enables developers to build desktop applications which will support a very large percentage of the desktop market.

Conclusions

REALbasic 2005 for Linux brings a much needed development environment to the Linux desktop. For years Visual Basic has ruled as an excellent tool for quickly building applications for many businesses and institutions. REALbasic 2005 now enables those types of applications to be built to support multiple platforms, not just Windows. This will enable these businesses to have choices now regarding desktop solutions.

Check back here on Cool Solutions for Developers for an in-depth look at REALbasic 2005 for Linux after it ships in August. In the meantime, get ahead of the game and go grab the Open Beta. It will be worth your time.

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