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First Look: REALbasic 2007 Gets Linux Support

REAL Software has upgraded its alternative to Microsoft Visual Basic, and added support for Linux OS Ubuntu version 6.06. The new REALbasic 2007 Release 4 is a programming language and integrated development environment (IDE) that allows programmers to write true cross-platform applications in a language similar to Microsoft Visual Basic 6.

Visual Basic has long been a language known for its ease of use and quick learning curve, compared with other languages of its time, such as C or C++. REALbasic retains much of Visual Basic's ease of use and offers viable options for developers who wish to port their old VB6 applications.

I use Ubuntu Linux on a daily basis for nearly everything, so I was eager to give this a try. I downloaded the Ubuntu package (.deb) and installed it. Several years ago, I had built a few Visual Basic 6 projects for my own use, so I was eager to see how this IDE compared with the Microsoft Visual Basic 6 software I had used all those years ago. Although my VB6 skills were quite rusty after so many years of coding in other languages, I was able to figure out how to build a simple "hello world" application in only a few minutes.

The product interface is very clean in its appearance and function, compared with the more cluttered VB6 development environment that I had previously used. I especially liked how the most important buttons, "Run" and "Build" are very large, visible and easily accessible on the toolbar, unlike the MSVB6 equivalents that managed to hide in a series of drop-down menus and cluttered toolbars. Equally impressive was how the IDE categorized my test program into several tabs: Project, Window 1's UI, and Window 1's code. This helps to keep a project organized in a more logical way. I remember having to toggle between the code and UI of my projects in a drop-down menu in MSVB6, so this was a welcome change.

REALbasic is not so much a replacement for Microsoft's newer Visual Basic .NET product as it is an alternative. REALbasic readily accommodates and is compatible with old VB6 code and user interface (UI) forms, unlike VB.NET, which often requires significant changes or even a complete rewrite of a program's code for it to be usable in the .NET development environment.

REALbasic 2007 also features faster Open Database Connectivity (ODBC). A press release issued by REAL Software cites testimony from Frederick Roller of F.W. Roller & Associates that his "test code now runs 23 times faster than it did before" with the new OBDC plugin.

REALbasic 2007 standard supports Real SQL Server (a proprietary implementation of SQLite). REALbasic 2007 Professional supports other database interfaces in addition to REAL SQL Server, such as Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, PostgreSQL, FileMaker Server, Sybase, Openbase, Frontbase, or any other ODBC data source.

REALbasic 2007 Professional is also a truly cross-platform development IDE, meaning that a developer would have to write code only once for deployment of the same program on Windows, Mac and Linux. REALbasic is available for Linux as a Red Hat/Fedora package, an Ubuntu Package and an installation shell script for any other Linux distro.

The Linux standard version is currently free, while the Linux professional version costs $500. The Windows/Mac standard version goes for $200 and the professional version sells for $500. If you always liked VB6 and have ever wanted to code cross-platform without having to do a lot of extra work, then the professional version of this product is definitely for you.

About the Author

Will Kraft is a Web designer, technical consultant and freelance writer. He can be reached at will@willkraftblog.com. Also, check out his blog at http://www.willkraftblog.com.

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