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any opinions on RealBasic?

the description sounds like the next best thing since sliced bread. Or maybe it would have been best if it could be seamlessly generated from a C-style language source. Of course the VB syntax looks ugly, that goes without saying.

Anyway, does anybody have more substantive opinions based on real world experience with this thing? Can you use it as easily as C# or Java for decent desktop apps? Are there any skeletons or vengeful ghosts hiding in the closeted subfolder?
Michael L Send private email
Thursday, April 30, 2009
The problem I see with RB:

1. It's originally Macintosh sofware ported to Windows, instead of a purely Windows product from the start. Experienced users will tell you if it shows in the programming experience and output EXE

2. It's a closed product, by a small company. What happens if it goes out of business or doesn't move in the direction wanted by users? Will people have to find yet a third solution after MS killed VBClassic?

Too bad the PowerBasic people didn't take this opportunity to come up with an object oriented VB.
ZeFred Send private email
Thursday, April 30, 2009
I am looking at realbasic myself at the moment and almost despite myself I am getting seriously beginning to think about migrating my vb6 product to it.
I like that it produces native executables.
I like that it's reasonably priced, about half that of Delphi which, however is a more complete windows development product .
I like that it's got a very active support forum for users.
It's obvious from reading the forum that there are many advanced-level users of the software there but despite that it comes across as a very welcoming place for novices. In other words it's just the sort of forum where you'd feel comfortable whatever your skill level because there's a rich mix of users. (At Delphi, one of the problems I have with the newsgroups is that the atmosphere there comes across as a bunch of hardbitten old guys who wouldn't be  too patient with a clueless rookie asking dumbass questions. That's my perception, maybe it's wrong).  Realbasic has more of the feel of the visual basic community about it.
The fact that Realbasic compiles several platforms is not of interest to me as for the forseeable future I'll be windows based.
Overall I like that Realbasic is a small company, if you send them an email you get a quick response, as I have.  They come across as efficient in that regard.
They have a 3 monthly release cycle which some users like and others dislike as they feel it makes the product more buggy. There's mucho bitching about RB on their forums which I actually find reasssuring.
If they were to go bust (and I know they've taken steps to cut costs recently which is a bit concerning because 2 well known engineers have been let go) then I think it may be even more likely than with a big company that the product would be resurrected. Having said that, I have no reason to think it's any more likely to go out of business than any other company, apart from microsoft. look at the endless  palaver of takeover/unloved child of an ALM company/name changes that Delphi has endured.
Sorry that I keep mentioning Delphi, but I have looked at both products as a replacement for classic vb.
RB ticks a lot of my boxes, it's a small but not too small and has a cohesive community and company.
The IDE is easy to learn and use, admittedly partly because it's not as fully featured as visual studio or Delphi.
Overall I really like it to the extent that when I started developing my product I wish I had done so in RB rather than vb6 (with all the angst that's brought since MS pulled the plug.)Back then I'd never have thought I'd be safer going with a small outfit from Austin rather than Microsoft.
Drummer Send private email
Thursday, April 30, 2009
well it may be me. but when RB was first mentioned on JoS (2005 was it?) they surprised a lot of programmers.

they even gave me a full version of RB at some point. because *cough* *cough* i was a former VB programmer. i still have that one on cd.

and then, they stopped. just like that. no more surprise or amazement. cross-platform has become cheap. people moved on to the Web. and RB still doesn't want to surprise us.
Victor the Python Artist Send private email
Thursday, April 30, 2009
I tried RB back in version 5, then version 2005.

I expected their update cycle to be like Visual Basic 5 and 6 -- once every three years or so.  Instead, they updated every 3 months, and not for free, either.

Their GUI did odd things with 'inherited' classes -- it was not always easy to find out what was inheriting from what.
AllanL5 Send private email
Thursday, April 30, 2009
I use REALbasic all the time.  Nearly all of my consulting work is done with it.  I create a wide variety of Windows, Mac and even some Linux desktop apps.

The IDE is wonderfully easy to work with.  I find it works better on Mac OS X or Vista than it does on XP.  Cross-platform development works really well using the remote debugger.

The object-oriented language is very similar to VB.NET (the other technology I mostly work with); in fact REALbasic had extension methods long before VB.NET and C#.

REALbasic is lacking a good reporting tool, but some 3rd party solutions are starting to appear.  It currently only creates Carbon apps for Mac OS X, but Cocoa support is coming this year.  REALbasic also doesn't provide access to every native control that is available on each platform, but there are plugins and such that help with that.

All in all, REALbasic is a wonderful solution for creating desktop applications.  If you have more specific questions, I suggest you ask them in the REAL Software forums ( ) or the ARBP ( ) forums.
Paul Lefebvre Send private email
Thursday, April 30, 2009
I looked at RB a few years ago. I even talked to the President at the first BoS conference. Very nice, bright guy.

My issues:

- Small ecosystem of developers, 3rd party tools, etc.
-Difficult to find developers because of the above.
- No true intellisense autocompletion. It'll show you *all* the possible choices to complete a command over variable but it doesn't do it intelligently and show you only the *valid* ones.

However, I did find it very similar to VB6 and it does produce those small static-linked EXEs  and doesn't require a framework,etc. (I.e., true "xcopy install".

Yes, they do seem to have a rapid release cycle. In fact, that's what their talk at BoS was about (how that can make you money<g>). But I didn't see any actual desired (by me) features coming out with that rapid release cycle. I.e., when you ship a new version there needs to be a compelling reason (for me) to upgrade.  No new controls. No improvement in the above things. But that's just me.

If I needed multiplatform capability I'd consider RB and also Silverlight and Flash.
Mr. Analogy Send private email
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Mr Analogy
I understand from your previous posts that you've been looking for an alternative to classic vb and that you've considered delphi (and now RB too) and probably others.
Have you come to any conclusions or are you maybe even thinking of staying in vb indefinitely?
Apart from  "a compelling reason... to upgrade", have you found a compelling reason to migrate and if so to where?
Personally I sometimes find myself driving myself nuts about this issue.
Drummer Send private email
Thursday, April 30, 2009
I once developed an application with it. I needed to produce just a .exe and it was a cheap way to do it.

However, one part of the application involved a recursive call to a function and it was a real pain to debug because the IDE kept crashing time and again, so I ended up adding message boxes... well, you get the idea

They continually send me emails about new releases and I haven't tried the new versions of the product  because I swore I'd never do it again

Jorge Diaz Tambley Send private email
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Arguments against going with RB because they're a small company is ironic * on a site for mISVers

* Not guaranteed proper usage
Drummer Send private email
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Sorry I'll stop posting titbits now but just want to say that that last post was not directed at anyone in particular, it was as much a reminder to myself as anyone else. I come up against the problem myself all the time because compared to competing software I'm shrimp sized
Drummer Send private email
Thursday, April 30, 2009
sorry, but comparing RB to VB.Net (or .Net platform in general) is like comparing oranges to an... apple farm. RB has a lot of issues and Real Software need to focus on working out bugs in features that developers from other environments take for granted. Wait until you realize that you cannot programmatically rearrange z-order on a form, or have no control over paint event of most UI components. Want to have a checkbox with a blue background? think again. You end up using WAY too manuy hacks and workarounds to do things that are not event an after thought in .Net. There is a niche that RB fills very nicely, but definitely test it first if it will do what you need.
Maciej Gorny Send private email
Thursday, April 30, 2009
"Want to have a checkbox with a blue background? think again. "

It seems in RB that you can set the form backcolor to whatever you want and then the checkboxes etc follow suit. In vb if you change the form color then the boxes have to be altered too.
IMO being able to have a checkbox backcolor  different from the form backcolor is more of a nuisance than a help. Sometimes more is less.
Drummer Send private email
Friday, May 01, 2009
You may want to check out the newest version of PowerBASIC...things have changed a lot recently at Zale's place!
George Wenger Send private email
Saturday, May 02, 2009
please dont mention powerbasic. everytime i look at it, it got transported back in time.
Victor the Python Artist Send private email
Saturday, May 02, 2009

Any µISV that tried to sell a software product on which someone would build their entire business would face the same very legitimate question.

There's a huge difference between a product that is an ancillary tool you use and one on which you entire company depends.  I don't know of any ISV selling the latter, probably because no one would buy it.  (Of course ironically, IBM bought DOS from a micro ISV and the real problem there was that Microsoft did *not* go away :-)
Mr. Analogy Send private email
Saturday, May 02, 2009
@ Victor:

Sorry to not have been more specific - I did not mean to suggest that PowerBASIC was the same as VB in any way, but rather that it might be a viable alternative...version 9 for Windows is substantially different from previous versions in what it offers (i.e., native OOP, COM, more).

And yeah - working with it does bring "time travel" to mind, but its performance is very good nonetheless.
George Wenger Send private email
Sunday, May 03, 2009
More on-topic:
My experience with REALBasic goes back about 5 years, but I was unimpressed with the lack of stability in the IDE, and all-but-useless VB-to-REAL "translator", and the poor availability of tech support.  I hope they have cleaned up their act in the interim, but I cannot say for sure...
George Wenger Send private email
Sunday, May 03, 2009
I've been using REALbasic for about 6 years.  It is an incredibly useful and powerful tool that allows you to create native executables for Macintosh OS X, Windows and Linux using one code base.  Nearly 100% of my consulting is from using REALbasic.

One thing to keep in mind is that REALbasic is often a compromise between the three supported operating systems.  A listbox/grid on Windows has different standard features than a listbox/grid on Mac OS X and Linux.  This is true of most controls.  With a little work it's possible to make good native looking applications.

The third-party market for controls is small but it is getting better.  A year ago there was one commercial reporting solution and today there are several and I know of at least three others that are in development.  People wouldn't be developing solutions for REALbasic if it wasn't making them money.

Finding a consultant is easy and there are several ways to find them.  The first is to use the Find a Consultant program through Real Software.  You fill out a simple web form and an email gets sent out to everyone that's part of the program.

The other solution is to take a look at the Community Listing for RB consultants at the Association of REALbasic Professionals (ARBP) website ( or post on the Find A Developer page at the same website. 

The free Visual Basic Project Converter from Real Software was horrible!  I lobbied (successfully) to get it killed because it made any conversion process more difficult than it needed to be.  Since then there is a product called VB Convert! from AYB Computers ( that does a decent job of converting VB6 projects to RB.  There is also rumblings that RS will come back with another tool that works better. 

One should keep in mind that VB6 and REALbasic are completely different languages even though they have 'basic' in the name.  No converter will get it right 100% of the time - never.

The Rapid Release Model isn't as bad as some have suggested.  When you purchase RB you get all updates for free for the following year (or 6 months depending upon your upgrade package).  Yes, sometimes a bug is introduced but the quality of the releases has been pretty high for the past year and a half.  I would also say the experience is better on Mac OS X rather than Windows but then I spend most of my time on the Mac so your mileage may vary.

Full disclosure: I'm one of the founders of ARBP, write for REALbasic Developer Magazine and have a blog about RB at
Bob Keeney Send private email
Monday, May 04, 2009

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