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REALbasic 2006 for Linux Product Review

REALbasic 2006 for Linux Overview

Developing desktop applications on Linux has traditionally been a task for either very skilled C/C++ developers or for simple applications, scripting developers. There has been something of a void in the middle ground, an area where both Microsoft Windows and Apple Macintosh have provided many viable options for development. Quickly and effectively prototyping and building desktop applications has been much easier on these two platforms than on Linux. Until now anyway…

Late in 2005 Real Software released REALbasic 2005 for Linux and developers who wanted to build desktop GUI application quickly had a very viable option.And to top it off REAL made a bold move by providing the Standard Edition of REALbasic for Linux for free. REALbasic 2006 Standard Edition for Linux only supports building of applications for Linux ( standard editions on all platforms only support building for the host platform) so if you plan to build applications for Windows or Mac you’ll need to obtain a license for the Professional Edition of REALbasic 2006. Along with multiple platform targets, the Pro version also adds additional support for databases, remote debugging on the other platforms, console applications, ServerSocket Control and the AutoDiscovery Class. Details on the additional Professional Edition features are available at the REALbasic for Linux Professional Edition page.

As they continue to follow their Rapid Release Model, REALbasic 2006 Release 1 became available early this year (Release 2 will likely be published by the time you read this article.) and they continue to advance the state of desktop application development on Linux.

Obtaining and installing REALbasic 2006 for Linux

Getting started with REALbasic 2006 for Linux is as simple as visiting the REALbasic for Linux download page and selecting the Linux version for the Novell Linux Desktop and downloading the RPM file. You should also look over all of the additional resources that are provided on the download page. From documentation to the Visual Basic Conversion Tool to the Remote Debugger Stub, there are a number of resources available here that will further enhance your development with REALbasic 2006.
Once you’ve downloaded the file simply use the rpm command line utility and you’ll have REALbasic 2006 installed in no time. You’ll find a menu link to REALbasic 2006 under Applications->Development->Integrated Environment on your desktop menu. Launching the program puts you right into the IDE and ready to create your application.

Developing with REALbasic 2006

The REALbasic 2006 for Linux IDE

From this project screen you can then edit the various aspects of your application and by double-clicking on the Window1 selection you’ll open the window layout editor which allows you to create and configure the graphical look and behavior of your application. REALbasic 2006 ships with built-in controls for everything from an HTMLViewer control to pushbuttons and checkboxes.

The REALbasic 2006 Window Editor

Additional add-on controls are available and you can create your own. Controls can easily be added to the window layout and configured using the properties panel on the right side of the IDE window. You can set properties here or programmatically within your application. And coding in REALbasic 2006 has been made very easy also. By selecting the “Code” window (Illustrated below, marked by the arrow) you can attach code to the many events that each control supports.

Accessing the Code Editor

To add code to an event simply select it and enter the code you wish to execute when the event fires. In the illustration below we have set the window’s title to “My Window” when the window opens.

Adding code to a REALbasic control event

REALbasic 2006 has all of the debugging features you expect from a full featured development product, including the ability to remotely debug applications on platforms other than your development platform (Professional Edition feature only). This can be very useful if you plan to deploy your application on more than one of the three platforms that REALbasic 2006 supports.
After all the work of adding controls, configuring them, writing the code behind the controls that make your application do what you want and debugging, all that is left is to build your application and distribute it. REALbasic 2006’s build options include the ability to create applications for all of the target platforms at one time (Professional Edition feature only).
When you are done with all of the tweaking required to get things just the way you want, you can “Run” your application from within the REALbasic 2006 IDE and see how it looks and functions. REALbasic 2006 provides all of the tools you expect for dealing with problems during execution such as breakpoints, stepping through code and doing code edits while debugging.

Running an application within the REALbasic 2006 IDE

Conclusions

So where does REALbasic 2006 fit in the sea of development tools available? If you are new to software development, REALbasic 2006 offers you a great way to get started, at a low cost with an easy learning curve. You can get productive quickly, but with REALbasic’s depth you’ll also have the tool for development of nearly any kind of application, from database front-ends to console applications.

If you need to quickly prototype or develop desktop GUI applications then REALbasic 2006 is right on target for you. Also, if you have legacy Visual Basic 6 applications that are needed for business reasons and a complete re-write is not an option, REALbasic can provide you with the solution. A Visual Basic Converter is available from REAL Software that will do a large part of the conversion for you. It can be downloaded from the same download page where you got REALbasic 2006.

REALbasic 2006 can fill nearly any role in your development process and really excels at ease of use, while retaining the power of a full-featured development tool.

Additional Resources

Along with all of the goodies to download on the page listed above here are few places to get additional information regarding REALbasic 2006.

REAL Software Home page

REALBasic Forums

Excellent White Paper on porting VB apps using REALbasic

Cool Solutions article on porting a VB app

Linux University for Developers Tutorial

The LU4D Tutorial as an Article

 

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