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Issue 2.1


REALbasic and the Penguin

REAL Software announces Linux strategy

Issue: 2.1 (August/September 2003)
Author: Marc Zeedar
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 4,923
Starting Page Number: 11
Article Number: 2108
Related Link(s): None

Full text of article...

REAL Software has unveiled plans to add support for the Linux platform into REALbasic.

The plan is for the next major update to REALbasic, version 5.5, to support compiling to Linux from both Mac and Windows IDEs. Eventually a Linux IDE will also be available, but the timeline for that is undecided.

A beta of version 5.5 should be available in the fourth quarter of 2003, with a general release planned for the first quarter of 2004. This means that by next year you'll be able to create software for Linux as well as Windows and Macintosh.

"Our goal is to create a product that will allow users to leverage their REALbasic skills in as many ways as possible," said REAL Software CEO Geoff Perlman.

Why support Linux?

REAL Software believes there's a significant growth market in Linux. Currently Linux is extremely popular as a server environment, but as more desktop apps are released for the platform, it is becoming a viable alternative to Windows. Companies looking to cut costs are finding Linux an attractive option.

Research shows that many Visual Basic users would like to be able to cross-compile to Linux but can't. Corporations often have critical custom applications written in Visual Basic and that dependency locks them in to Windows.

"By converting projects to REALbasic, those developers can move their apps to Linux and Macintosh with minimal extra effort," added Perlman. "REALbasic opens a whole new world to them."

Current commercial REALbasic developers are also eager to expand their products to the third platform. Steve Bannerman, President of Cast:Stream, enterprise-level collaboration software written in REALbasic, says "We think it's paramount that we be able to deliver our software on all the platforms our customers use -- that means Windows, Mac, and Linux."

Also, there is no comparable product to REALbasic on the Linux platform. Darryl K. Taft wrote in eWeek in January 2003, "An IDE could be the missing link that's keeping Linux from being widely

deployed in the enterprise."

How will it work?

One question that many developers want to know is how REALbasic for Linux will work.

According to REAL Software, the initial release will be targeted for the x86 Intel platform, primarily Red Hat and Yellow Dog Linux installations (which are the most popular). Other installs should work as well, though they'll require testing to determine compatibility.

The Linux applications REALbasic will create will use the GTK+ widget library which is the basis for the popular GNOME (GNU Network Object Model Environment) graphical user interface (used by Red Hat and others).

Why GTK+? "It's open source," said Geoff Perlman. "If we run into a problem with the library, we can fix it ourselves without waiting for another developer."

With Sun Microsystems set to make GNOME the default interface for Solaris, there's even the possibility of REALbasic eventually supporting other versions of UNIX in addition to Linux. Other processors might also be supported, though it's far too early to speculate when that might happen.

How difficult will it be to port your project to Linux?

"It depends on what your application does," said Perlman. "Some projects will require no changes; others may need to be rewritten. It will be very similar to supporting Mac and Windows in the same project now."

There are significant differences between Mac and Windows now, and Linux adds a new complication. For instance, while QuickTime is available for both Windows and Macintosh, it isn't available for Linux and there isn't a comparable Linux product. Therefore some features Windows and Mac users take for granted just won't be available under Linux.

What does this mean to you?

If you're a current Mac or Windows user, does this mean REAL Software is abandoning you?

"Absolutely not," assures Geoff Perlman. "Supporting Linux will strengthen the REALbasic product by making it even more useful."

REAL Software has plans to significantly enhance the Mac and Windows products for version 5.5, and will continue with their policy of supporting each platform fully.

For users of the Standard version of REALbasic, supporting another platform won't change anything. Professional users will be able to ship software on an additional platform and generate additional revenue. Visual Basic users will be able to convert their VB projects to REALbasic and compile for Windows, Macintosh, and Linux.

End of article.