TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Jun 01 Cover Story

Volume Number: 17 (2001)
Issue Number: 06
Column Tag: Getting Started

REALBasic 3 - The Marriage of Old and New

by Erick J. Tejkowski

Old World Mac Development meets New World Features

Introduction

Coincidental with the release of Mac OS X, REALSoftware announced the latest edition of their popular programming environment — REALbasic 3. REALbasic, a visually based, object-oriented BASIC environment for Macintosh, has always amazed fans in the past. The latest version is poised to do the same. With the introduction of a new operating system like Mac OS X comes the need for applications — and lots of them. REALbasic gives you the chance to create such applications, while simultaneously affording you the opportunity to reach out to other platforms with minimal effort. This fact alone may reason enough to warrant looking into REALbasic, but REALSoftware has also loaded REALbasic with all kinds of other powers.

Something Old

REALbasic 3 continues along the path of earlier versions by providing an easy-to-use cross-platform visual programming environment for the Mac OS. The latest incarnation of REALbasic builds on previous versions (REALbasic 1 & 2), so you will be glad to know that your old code should transfer to REALbasic 3 without a hitch. All of the familiar commands, controls, and features are there for your instant programming gratification.

There are, however, a few changes you should note. For starters, adding a resource file to your project works just as it always has, but now it is quite a bit friendlier. Previously, you were required to give an external resource file the name Resources for it to be recognized in the REALbasic IDE. Now, you are not limited to one external resource file. Instead, you may simply add a .rsrc extension to any file and it’s fair game for inclusion in your project. Therefore, it is now possible to have multiple resource files in your REALbasic project. In the event that you mistakenly include multiple files with conflicting resources (i.e. the same type and number), REALbasic simply overwrites earlier resources based on the order in which they appear in the Project Window.

Another important function that carries over into the latest version of REALbasic is the Declare statement. The Declare statement permits you to access Macintosh and Windows Toolbox calls directly from you REALbasic code, something that once was only possible with a plugin. REALbasic 3 continues to give you this ability and ups the ante by additionally providing access to Carbon calls. This requires a few code changes on your part, but luckily, the transition is nearly painless. Whereas the Classic Mac OS toolbox calls relied upon an assortment of libraries, Carbon code typically relies strictly on one library: CarbonLib. Updating your toolbox calls for Mac OS X often merely entails a library name change. If the syntax of the Carbon call has changed from its Classic predecessor though, you will have to change it as well. (See Listing 1).

Here is what a sample routine might look like:

Listing 1: Declare statements in Classic Mac OS versus Carbon

The only difference between most Class Mac OS Toolbox calls and their Carbon counterparts is a simple library name change.

Declare Function SetSysBeepVolume Lib “InterfaceLib” 
                           (Level as Integer) as Integer

Declare Function SetSysBeepVolume Lib “CarbonLib” 
                           (Level as Integer) as Integer

Something New

In addition to updating existing features, REALbasic adds a host of new abilities. Some of these features ease the transition to Carbon, while others are there just to simplify your life and make the REALbasic experience more pleasant.

The IDE

REALSoftware has made some nice changes in the REALbasic IDE. For example, you may now save your REALbasic projects in one of three formats (see Listing 2).

Listing 2: REALbasic 3 File Formats

Save As enables you to save your REALbasic projects in one of a number of formats rather than only one like in earlier versions.

Standard Project — REALbasic 3 format
REALbasic 2.1 Project — Provides backward compatibility. Without this feature, you would have to 
rebuild your projects if you ever wished to migrate back to REALbasic 2.1.

XML — A new format for REALbasic. The Project saves as an XML text file to encourage REALbasic tool 
development.

Furthermore, REALbasic 3 adds a bit of automation by making the build process Apple-scriptable. This allows you to perform builds under the power of an AppleScript. Figure 1 shows the REALbasic AppleScript Dictionary.


Figure 1. The REALbasic 3 AppleScript Dictionary.

Continuing on the path to making your life easier, REALbasic 3 makes dramatic improvements to the Auto-completion feature. As you type, REALbasic presents you with a list of possible commands, objects, methods, and property names; usually by the time you have typed the second or third letter of the word (see Figure 2). As you type, you see ellipses appearing directly after the cursor. When this occurs, press Tab and a list instantly appears displaying REALbasic’s guess as to what you wish to type next. Select the one you want and hit Return. This is a gem for all those hunt-and-peck programmers out there.


Figure 2. The REALbasic 3 Auto-Completion Feature

The REALbasic IDE also has some subtle navigation enhancements worth mentioning. The Code Editor has been updated with a few interface widgets that help you get around the environment quicker. Located at the bottom left corner of the Code Editor (see Figure 3), four small buttons give you instant access to navigation functions. The first button opens the Window Editor belonging to the current Code Editor in which you are entering code. The second button lets you toggle between showing all events and only the event you are working with. The third button takes you back in time to the last place your cursor rested in the Code Editor. Like multiple undos (which REALbasic has), your cursor can continue traversing backwards in time. The fourth button, as you may have guessed, lets you go in the opposite (forward) direction.


Figure 3. The REALbasic Code Editor provides some navigation options.

Carbon

REALSoftware released the third version of REALbasic alongside another major product release — Mac OS X. This was no accident. Perhaps the biggest news about REALbasic 3 is the fact that it can now compile Carbon versions of your projects, often with little or no change to your existing code. Your applications gain protected memory, Core Graphics text drawing, and other Carbon technologies with no additional effort on your part. Figure 4 displays the new Build Dialog where creating Mac OS X compatible software is as simple as clicking on a checkbox.


Figure 4. The Build Dialog shows how easy it is to create Carbon applications — one checkbox!

Although most code works “as-is” in Carbon builds, there may come a time when you need to address some specific facet of Mac OS X development. For example, Declare statements often differ based on the intended target platform. (Classic Mac vs. Mac OS X vs. Microsoft Windows). To facilitate platform specific code with Mac OS X, REALbasic 3 adds the TargetCarbon directive. Listing 3 shows it in action.

Listing 3: Targeting Mac OS X code

The TargetCarbon preprocessor directive permits you to address Mac OS X — specific code.

#if TargetCarbon
Declare Function SetSysBeepVolume Lib “CarbonLib” 
            (Level as Integer) as Integer
#elseif
Declare Function SetSysBeepVolume Lib “InterfaceLib” 
                           (Level as Integer) as Integer
#endif

The Shell Class is another great new feature available in REALbasic 3 for the first time. With it, you can perform command line functions within your own projects. This creates all kinds of possibilities for enterprising individuals to create GUI-based applications for those command-line shy Mac users out there (and believe me, they exist). For Microsoft fans, this feature also works on Windows (DOS anyone?). Figure 5 shows the Shell Class in action and the pictured example is available on MacTech’s ftp site.


Figure 5. The REALbasic Shell Object in action.

Executing a shell script is as easy as creating a new Shell Object and sending it the Execute command. Listing 4 shows how to list the current processes in an EditField.

Listing 4: Executing Shell Scripts

REALbasic 3 affords you the chance to execute shell scripts just as you do from the command line. This example lists the current processes and the corresponding PID number.

Dim myShell as Shell
myShell = New Shell
myShell.Execute “ps -x | awk ‘{print $1} {print $5}’ ”
if myShell.ErrorCode = 0 then
EditField1.Text = myShell.Result
end if

iDisk

REALSoftware has always been a very open company when it comes to pre-release software. They have always believed that user should be able to take advantage of bug fixes and feature additions as they progress. As such, it is wise to chase down the most recent version of REALbasic, as it is typically quite stable and often provides useful new functions. Prior to REALbasic 3.1b7, REALbasic was only available online directly from REALSoftware. Now, Apple is offering the latest download of REALbasic on iDisk. With iDisk you do not even need a web browser to gain instant access the latest version of REALbasic. Just mount iDisk on the desktop and find REALbasic in the Software directory. Now, that’s cool!

Something Borrowed

Existing REALbasic developers will be glad to know that it continues to support a vast collection of technologies, even within Carbon applications. QuickTime and AppleScript support are there like before, but don’t forget that REALbasic can take advantage of the many new features inherent to both of these technologies. Its like getting bonus features free!

Furthermore, REALbasic 3 supports MIDI, MP3, and MPEG files using Windows Media libraries now. Previously, you were required to use QuickTime. Despite QuickTime’s popularity, more Window’s users take advantage of the Windows Media Player technologies, so this feature is a welcome addition.

Something Blue

Everything is turning blue! No, you do not need a new pair of glasses, it is just the Aqua interface you are seeing. Along with Carbon compatibility, REALbasic makes the switch to Aqua painless. REALbasic 3 uses the Aqua interface under Mac OS X. It also permits you to build applications using the Aqua interface. This all happens transparently to the user. Build projects like you always have; they instantly acquire the Aqua interface when using Mac OS X. REALSoftware has made the transition to Aqua beautifully, although, on occasion, you may need to resize a button or two to deal with the different sized fonts on Mac OS X. Figure 6 shows REALbasic in all its Aqua glory.


Figure 6. REALbasic 3 is Aqua all over.

After the Honeymoon

REALbasic, like Mac OS X, is in a bit of a transitory state at the time this article was written. At this point, everyone is expecting an update to Mac OS X in the near future. REALSoftware is following a similar path by readying REALbasic 3.1. The Beta versions of REALbasic 3.1 are publicly available (see the URL list at the end of this article). Because Carbon is in a state of flux, REALSoftware recommends checking the Beta version of REALbasic should the REALbasic 3.0 version lack some feature you require. Keep in mind that Apple released the final Carbon libraries only shortly before the release of Mac OS X. Once it did, REALSoftware began revising REALbasic to reflect the changes therein. Thus, the Beta version of REALbasic 3.1 provides a glimpse into the latest work coming out of REALSoftware’s Austin offices.

Avoiding Divorce

Some programmers may be wondering what value there is in purchasing a programming environment like REALbasic when Apple gives away free tools with Mac OS X. This is a valid question, but not necessarily a good assessment of the situation. Although Project Builder is essentially free for Mac OS X users, it relies on the more complex Objective C and Java languages for all coding. It does not permit BASIC source code, an undeniably easy language to learn. Moreover, REALbasic provides the only cross-platform visual development environment on the Macintosh. Project Builder doesn’t do Windows! Finally, REALbasic also provides some features unavailable to Project Builder users. For example, REALbasic comes stocked with a database engine, a sprite engine, XCMD support, and more. Sometimes, you truly get what you pay for.

Conclusions

In this article, we took a brief look at the new and updated features of REALbasic 3. Although much of it appears similar to past versions, it is clear that much work has gone into its development. Not only does it make improvements to existing technologies, but it also manages to make it easier than ever to produce quality Macintosh and Windows software. Creating software for Mac OS X has never been easier either. REALSoftware made the transition as painless as Apple made the 68K to PPC change nearly a decade ago. All of your old code works just as it always did, but now on Mac OS X.

References

If you haven’t already registered for an iTools account, do so immediately! With the account you get a 20MB partition (called iDisk) that allows you to publish to the web directly from your desktop. You can download the latest version of REALbasic from it as well.


Erick Tejkowski is the author of REALbasic for Dummies published by Hungry Minds. You can reach him at etejkowski@mac.com.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Vivaldi 2.6.1566.49 - An advanced browse...
Vivaldi is a browser for our friends. We live in our browsers. Choose one that has the features you need, a style that fits and values you can stand by. From the look and feel, to how you interact... Read more
Capo 3.7.4 - Slow down and learn to play...
Capo lets you slow down your favorite songs so you can hear the notes and learn how they are played. With Capo, you can quickly tab out your songs atop a highly-detailed OpenCL-powered spectrogram... Read more
Daylite 6.7.3.1 - Dynamic business organ...
Daylite helps businesses organize themselves with tools such as shared calendars, contacts, tasks, projects, notes, and more. Enable easy collaboration with features such as task and project... Read more
Firefox 68.0.1 - Fast, safe Web browser.
Firefox offers a fast, safe Web browsing experience. Browse quickly, securely, and effortlessly. With its industry-leading features, Firefox is the choice of Web development professionals and casual... Read more
Dashlane 6.1927.0 - Password manager and...
Dashlane is an award-winning service that revolutionizes the online experience by replacing the drudgery of everyday transactional processes with convenient, automated simplicity - in other words,... Read more
BetterTouchTool 3.153 - Customize multi-...
BetterTouchTool adds many new, fully customizable gestures to the Magic Mouse, Multi-Touch MacBook trackpad, and Magic Trackpad. These gestures are customizable: Magic Mouse: Pinch in / out (zoom)... Read more
calibre 3.46.0 - Complete e-book library...
Calibre is a complete e-book library manager. Organize your collection, convert your books to multiple formats, and sync with all of your devices. Let Calibre be your multi-tasking digital librarian... Read more
DEVONthink Pro 3.0beta4 - Knowledge base...
DEVONthink Pro is your essential assistant for today's world, where almost everything is digital. From shopping receipts to important research papers, your life often fills your hard drive in the... Read more
Adobe Creative Cloud 4.9.0.512 - Access...
Adobe Creative Cloud costs $20.99/month for a single app, or $52.99/month for the entire suite. Introducing Adobe Creative Cloud desktop applications, including Adobe Photoshop CC and Illustrator CC... Read more
Chromium 75.0.3770.142 - Fast and stable...
Chromium is an open-source browser project that aims to build a safer, faster, and more stable way for all Internet users to experience the web. Version 75.0.3770.142: Release notes were... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Void Tyrant guide - Tips and tricks for...
Void Tyrant continues to get a lot of play in these parts. Probably because the game is just so deep and varied. The next stop on our guide series for Void Tyrant is class-specific guides. First up is the Knight, as it’s the first class anyone has... | Read more »
Summon beasts and battle evil in epic re...
Imagine a tale of conlict between factions of good and evil, where rogueish heroes summon beasts to aid them in them in warfare and courageously battle dragons over fields of scorched earth and brimstone - that's exactly the essence of epic fantasy... | Read more »
Upcoming visual novel Arranged shines a...
If you’re in the market for a new type of visual novel designed to inform and make you think deeply about its subject matter, then Arranged by Kabuk Games could be exactly what you’re looking for. It’s a wholly unique take on marital traditions in... | Read more »
TEPPEN guide - The three best decks in T...
TEPPEN’s unique take on the collectible card game genre is exciting. It’s just over a week old, but that isn’t stopping lots of folks from speculating about the long-term viability of the game, as well as changes and additions that will happen over... | Read more »
Intergalactic puzzler Silly Memory serve...
Recently released matching puzzler Silly Memory is helping its fans with their intergalactic journeys this month with some very special offers on in-app purchases. In case you missed it, Silly Memory is the debut title of French based indie... | Read more »
TEPPEN guide - Tips and tricks for new p...
TEPPEN is a wild game that nobody asked for, but I’m sure glad it exists. Who would’ve thought that a CCG featuring Capcom characters could be so cool and weird? In case you’re not completely sure what TEPPEN is, make sure to check out our review... | Read more »
Dr. Mario World guide - Other games that...
We now live in a post-Dr. Mario World world, and I gotta say, things don’t feel too different. Nintendo continues to squirt out bad games on phones, causing all but the most stalwart fans of mobile games to question why they even bother... | Read more »
Strategy RPG Brown Dust introduces its b...
Epic turn-based RPG Brown Dust is set to turn 500 days old next week, and to celebrate, Neowiz has just unveiled its biggest and most exciting update yet, offering a host of new rewards, increased gacha rates, and a brand new feature that will... | Read more »
Dr. Mario World is yet another disappoin...
As soon as I booted up Dr. Mario World, I knew I wasn’t going to have fun with it. Nintendo’s record on phones thus far has been pretty spotty, with things trending downward as of late. [Read more] | Read more »
Retro Space Shooter P.3 is now available...
Shoot-em-ups tend to be a dime a dozen on the App Store, but every so often you come across one gem that aims to shake up the genre in a unique way. Developer Devjgame’s P.3 is the latest game seeking to do so this, working as a love letter to the... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Weekend Deal: 2018 13″ MacBook Airs starting...
B&H Photo has clearance 2018 13″ MacBook Airs available starting at only $999 with all models now available for $200 off Apple’s original MSRP. Overnight shipping, or expedited shipping, is free... Read more
Apple has clearance 10.5″ iPad Pros available...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2017 10.5″ iPad Pros available starting at $469. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each iPad, outer shells are new, and shipping is free: – 64GB 10″ iPad Pro... Read more
Apple restocks refurbished iPad mini 4 models...
Apple has restocked Certified Refurbished 32GB iPad mini 4 WiFi models for $229 shipped. That’s $70 off original MSRP for the iPad mini 4. Space Gray, Silver, and Gold colors are available. Read more
Apple, Yet Again, Is Missing An Ultraportable...
EDITORIAL: 07.19.19 Prior to the decision made by Apple earlier this month to retire the thin and light MacBook model with a 12-inch retina display, the Cupertino, California-based company offered,... Read more
Verizon is offering a 50% discount on iPhone...
Verizon is offering 50% discounts on Apple iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus models though July 24th, plus save 50% on activation fees. New line required. The fine print: “New device payment & new... Read more
Get a new 21″ iMac for under $1000 today at t...
B&H Photo has new 21″ Apple iMacs on sale for up to $100 off MSRP with models available starting at $999. These are the same iMacs offered by Apple in their retail and online stores. Shipping is... Read more
Clearance 2017 15″ 2.8GHz Touch Bar MacBook P...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2017 15″ 2.8GHz Space Gray Touch Bar MacBook Pros available for $1809. Apple’s refurbished price is currently the lowest available for a 15″ MacBook Pro. An standard... Read more
Clearance 12″ 1.2GHz MacBook on sale for $899...
Focus Camera has clearance 12″ 1.2GHz Space Gray MacBooks available for $899.99 shipped. That’s $400 off Apple’s original MSRP. Focus charges sales tax for NY & NJ residents only. Read more
Get a new 2019 13″ 2.4GHz 4-Core MacBook Pro...
B&H Photo has new 2019 13″ 2.4GHz MacBook Pros on sale for up to $150 off Apple’s MSRP. Overnight shipping is free to many addresses in the US: – 2019 13″ 2.4GHz/256GB 6-Core MacBook Pro Silver... Read more
AirPods with Wireless Charging Case now on sa...
Amazon has extended their Prime Day savings on Apple AirPods by offering AirPods with the Wireless Charging case for $169.99. That’s $30 off Apple’s MSRP, and it’s the cheapest price available for... Read more

Jobs Board

Geek Squad *Apple* Master Consultation Agen...
**702908BR** **Job Title:** Geek Squad Apple Master Consultation Agent **Job Category:** Services/Installation/Repair **Location Number:** 000360-Williston-Store Read more
Best Buy *Apple* Computing Master - Best Bu...
**711023BR** **Job Title:** Best Buy Apple Computing Master **Job Category:** Sales **Location Number:** 000012-St Cloud-Store **Job Description:** **What does a Read more
*Apple* Systems Architect/Engineer, Vice Pre...
…its vision to be the world's most trusted financial group. **Summary:** Apple Systems Architect/Engineer with strong knowledge of products and services related to Read more
Best Buy *Apple* Computing Master - Best Bu...
**696259BR** **Job Title:** Best Buy Apple Computing Master **Job Category:** Store Associates **Location Number:** 001076-Temecula-Store **Job Description:** The Read more
Business Development Manager, *Apple* Globa...
Business Development Manager, Apple Global Tampa, FL, US Requisition Number:73805 As a Global Apple Business Development Manager at Insight, you proactively Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.