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REALbasic is an easy-to-use cross-platform development environment that lets anyone create applications for the Mac ? and if you wish, for Windows. Being able to write an application that supports both platforms is a big plus.
REALbasic supports the majority of the high-end technologies and open standards in the industry, such as SQL, ODBC, Visual Basic, TCP/IP and QuickTime. When making a stand-alone application, what you build is a single file with no player, run-time engine, DLL, extension or plug-in to allow it to run.
The programs are written in the Basic language, that now has an object-orientated flavour to it, complete with classes, methods, properties and inheritance. Though the object-orientated route can be skipped, if you?re not comfortable with the features of (OOP) Object Orientated Programming, just ignore them. To begin building a program?s interface, drag control objects ? such as buttons, dialog boxes, edit fields, list boxes, scrollbars ? from the tools palette into the Project window to create anything from a small utility to a large application.
The Window Editor is used to design the user interface for a window in a project by drag-&-dropping controls such as fields, buttons, and pop-up menus from the Tools Palette into the window.
The Code Editor window is used to edit programming code controls such as the buttons and windows. It has a browser that makes it easy to locate a control and see all the events that the control can receive; code is then entered to customize the operation of each event of an object.
The Menu Editor is used to set-up the menus and menu items that will be displayed when the application is running. The REALbasic application builds the Apple, File and Edit menu automatically. On the Mac, keyboard shortcuts can be assigned to menu items as well as hierarchical or sub menus being able to be displayed.
All of the windows, menus, pictures, sounds, QuickTime movies, database controls and plug-ins that make up an application are stored in a project document. A project can contain AppleScripts, Apple Event templates, favourite XCMD?s and XFCN?s from your HyperCard days, as well as resource files.
More powerful features include the RB3D space control that is used to display animation in a 3D space. REAL also introduced, at the same time as RB3D space control, RBScript, a simple modern dialect of basic. You pass it REALbasic code, and let it execute the code via the interpreter.
A move that will help to make REALbasic popular with those who develop for the masses is the introduction of Microsoft Office Automation, which provides access to every aspect of Microsoft Office for Mac and Windows that can create and modify documents and components in Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
With the Standard Edition, applications can be compiled without restriction, royalty or licensing fee, and no time limit for OS 8.1 through to Mac OS X 10.2. It also includes additional Professional Edition features, except they run only in demo mode. Demo applications run for only five minutes at a time, and after 30 days will not run at all. Databases are also restricted, allowing access to only the first 50 records.
The Professional Edition includes a Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000/XP cross- compiler that will create a stand-alone, double-clickable application to run under Windows. The Windows applications have native Windows controls as REALbasic asks the OS to draw the controls, instead of doing each control itself.
Since many applications require some form of databasing, REALbasic provides a built-in single-user relational-database engine. For the pro user, Real has extended the possibilities of database connectivity. REALbasic can connect to 4D Server, Oracle, MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server, OpenBase, dtf, and PostreSQL, as well as an ODBC-compatible database engine. REALbasic?s database controls and commands, and SQL implementation work with all supported databases. This approach allows you to build database applications that can easily be switched from one database engine to another, without any change to the code.
REALbasic 1 was popular, but it really took off with version 2, when the ability to create native applications for Windows was added. The major goal for versions 3 and 3.5 was OS X compatibility. Versions 4 and 4.5 have addressed a long list of specific requests from the user community, not least the continual eradication of bugs that has led to a stable development environment.
In terms of power, REALbasic is way-ahead of programs such as Revolution and SuperCard, and is much easier to use than tools such as CodeWarrior for making robust commercial applications. It?s a strong contender for wearing the mantle of ?programming for the rest of us? that used to belong to HyperCard.