REALbasic vs. Revolution

Kevin Miller kevin at
Thu Oct 10 11:40:01 EDT 2002


There has recently been a discussion about Rev vs. RB on both the Rev and
the RB mailing lists.  Geoff Perlman posted this on the RB mailing list,
raising some good points which I thought I should reply to.  But I'd rather
not fan the flames of a large off topic conversation on the RB list, and I
know that anyone seriously considering Revolution vs. RB is likely to be on
this list, so it seems better to reply here.  (This discussion is officially
getting "off topic" now, so lets try to keep further replies reasonably

Recently, Geoff Perlman wrote:

> I'm sure I'm not the "real-world developer" type that you posed the question
> to but I'll give you some things to consider:
> I would look closely at the quality of the app each can produce. Is the
> interface a truly native interface or does it just try to look native?

The current version of Revolution isn't perfect, in particular the
development environment has not yet had enough work done on OS X, but the
apps you *produce* are very close.  In the next version, we've made
improvements in most of the handful of areas we are still lagging here.

> How big are the applications it builds?

To my knowledge, Revolution applications are either the same size or smaller
than the ones produced by RB.

> In other words, can you look at the app you build with it and tell the
> difference between it and other commercial software products created with
> other tools? This is important because the UI is what makes the first
> impression on your customers.

You can deliver professional applications looking any way you like in

> How rich is the framework provided? The vendor can only supply so much
> functionality. After that, you're going to want a rich set of third-party
> plug-ins to choose from. Which environment provides this?

Our built in functionality is very rich and capable.  Revolution is a little
behind in the 3rd party support area, but rapidly catching up.  The reason
for this is simply that we've only been shipping a year, whereas RB has been
shipping for several years.  The number of 3rd party tools and developers
for Rev is growing daily.

> How reusable are the skills you are going to learn? For example, REALbasic
> uses a syntax that is very similar to Visual Basic and Java. It's even
> somewhat similar to C++. So if you learn another language in the future, how
> will the language you are learning now help you?

Both Rev and RB are proprietary languages.  And yet both are also
programming languages, which teach you how to think like a programmer.  So
you can switch to other tools from either, but neither are going to come top
for this.  If transferable skills is your no. 1 priority, why not simply use
Java, VB or C++ to begin with?

If you're going to have a *proprietary* language, in this case either Rev or
RB, the better question to ask is: which is the more productive language?
RB is more like the lower level languages.   Revolution is easier to think
in, and easier to write.  Being English like it takes fewer lines of code,
and each one is very readable.  It makes a big difference, every day you
develop.  When it comes to maintenance, Rev is about as far away from a
"write only" language as you can get.  That code you wrote six months ago,
is English-like - some of our developers have called it "virtually self
commenting".  You can develop and debug that code on all the target
platforms too.

> What resources are available to help you learn? Magazines, Mailing lists,
> tutorials, enthusiastic customer sites? A good way to check this is a search
> on What books are available? The availability of books often is
> a good indicator of the success of the product. How well is the product
> recognized by the community?

We have a truly great mailing list here - which is very active.  The number
of 3rd party sites seems to grow all the time.  There is at least one book
in development.  Truly excellent for a product that has only been around for
a year.  That this stuff isn't available on day one is all just par for the
course, and buying into Revolution isn't buying into a dead end: all of this
stuff is arriving rapidly.

> How long has the company been around and do they have a good track record
> for delivering updates? This is important because you are going to invest a
> lot of time in the product you choose and if the company is not dependable
> (either because of the way their manage releases or they go out of business)
> that's going to have a big impact on you.

That¹s certainly very important.  Our company has been around for six years
(though we haven't been in this market for that period of time).  But we're
certainly a company with a well established track record.  The next big
release of Revolution is happening next month, and will be feature packed.
Look forward to unicode, a report generator, XML, an improved user
interface, macho compilation, and a whole lot more.  Then it should just be
a few months until the next major release, with equally exciting new

Kind regards,


Kevin Miller <kevin at> <>
Runtime Revolution Limited - The Solution for Software Development
Tel: +44 (0) 870 747 1165.  Fax: +44 (0)1639 830 707.

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