Been awfully busy at work this week ("big" workshop based on an app I've written most of late this week), but I did have some time to play around with REALbasic (the "Mac version of Visual Basic") yesterday on my iBook when work was done.

Though I was a little put off initially with how much different REALbasic is from Visual Basic where it really didn't need to be, within an hour I was enamoured. I managed to proof-of-concept everything I'd need to make a Quake 1 server pinger (something missing in OS X land right now) in minutes, something that took me a several hours to do in Java a while back.

What's more, the GUI was incredibly more responsive than anything I'd made for OS X with Java, Swing or AWT. The build for Mac OS 9 made a similarly good looking app without changing a line of code, and even the Windows version looked great (see a very non-impressive screengrab here).

All the advantages of Visual Basic were right there... on my iBook!! There was a quick IDE (move over, Netbeans) with something like "Intellisense", a GUI RAD (on the Mac!) like you wouldn't believe, and, after getting used to the new object model, a very Visual Basic-like experience that makes creating (if not coding) utilities with a GUI for Mac every bit as easy as VB utils for WinPC.

Disadvantages include a nearly 800 Kbyte app on Windows (VB equivalent was 20kb, but that's not counting the vb virtual machine dll) which grew to 1.7 megs in OS X. It's also awfully expensive to make Win softare -- $100 for Mac-only builds and $300 for Mac/Win dual build. Sheesh!

But I have to face facts -- if you want to target the Mac, REALbasic blows the doors off of Java, at least for simple apps. If you want to target a specific platform, which I do with many of my ideas for utilities, you should use platform specfic tools, I'm afraid. If you don't have a reason to use the Java platform any stronger than, "I'd like to hit a niche platform Java provides me access to", you're better off picking another, more specialized tool.

Next is to figure out how to use REALbasic's "interactive shell" to open pipes to Java (and other) code. Just wrapping a REALbasic GUI over xplat code would do wonders for perceived performance.

In other news, I found out that "Alt-Print Screen" take a picture of the active window in Windows so I can finally stop grabbing the whole screen and cropping that pic in IrfanView. Idiot! :^)