I have been a faithful REALbasic user for many years. It is such a wonderful development environment that I have staked my business on it for the past seven years. Recently REAL Software let go a couple of key employees. Additionally, while they put a good spin on it by saying “mini conferences around the country”, they have canceled their upcoming annual conference. The affects of the former are already evident in that the beta process has suffered. If this continues, the recent rock solid releases will suffer as well. The minds of its users will say that REALbasic is again buggy and it was due to the lack of man power.
However, I think that the affects of the decision to cancel REAL World 2009 is going to have larger repercussions than REAL Software expects. Closing down the conference, which is pure marketing, also crushes the perception of a viable product and company. Conferences are not meant to make money. They are there for the users. Us. The people who purchase the product and support the company that helps us make a living. This announcement will shatter the hopeful, if it hasn’t already. The conference is the only time I am able to sit face to face with many of my friends; I see them once a year. We get to take a week off of working in order to learn and have fellowship. It is a working vacation of sorts. I have already spoken to people who think the cancellation is just another nail in the coffin.
And finally, I have been waiting for years for the 3rd party add-on market for REALbasic to come into its own. I have two projects already developed and two more project partially developed. We recently ran a very disappointing 70% off sale (test) for one of our projects. The problem is that nobody is buying; REALbasic still has the hobbyists, and not the professional in its market. Hobbyists either want everything for free or cheap due to their limited funds (or mindset). Free doesn’t work for business unless it is to make people pay for the hell known as support. Cheap? Yeah, well, I have to feed my family, too.
Due to REAL Software’s layoffs, it was obvious that waiting for REALbasic to compile for the iPhone was unreasonable. We have to move on and continue to innovate. Pariahware is starting to develop in XCode for the iPhone. Dusting off the C files in our brains and getting up to speed with Objective-C is part of that plan. I don’t think 100% web apps are the future, but some mixture of desktop and internet applications is what is ahead. And the iPhone is part of that strategy.
I sure hope that REAL Software survives and that REALbasic lives on as a quality product. For building cross-platform applications, nothing can beat it. However putting all of one’s fruit in one basket in never a good idea so getting more familiar with XCode seems like the way to go.