REAL World 2008, Day One

Today started off with a nice breakfast, followed by the REAL World 2008 Keynote. Right off the bat, the projector was causing trouble. After a few moments of watching the Omni staff fuss with the set up, Geoff quipped, “If I was Steve Jobs, people would be getting fired right now.”

Once the equipment was up and running, Geoff began by talking about the past year. He said that their platform distribution is evening out, with Mac users still commanding 44% of their sales, followed by Windows at 34%, and Linux at 23%. Both Mac and Linux sales are growing, though. In particular, their Linux user base is up 48%. That’s pretty impressive. In addition, their revenue is up by 43%. That’s encouraging news to hear about a company to whose fate you have hitched your proverbial wagon.

I did get some Cocoa news, but only as much as this: the Cocoa transition plan has resumed and will be worked on this year. Here’s hoping.

Then Geoff gave us some statistics from their surveys. 99% of their users are male. No great surprise there, at least judging from the demographics I see at REAL World each year. The number one reason for using REALbasic that people listed was developing cross-platform applications. Number two was building database applications. A full 66% do both. Perhaps not coincidentally, my two sessions today were on Cross-Platform Interface Tips and Understanding SQL.

Next up was REAL SQL Server news. Some great new features coming up include LifeSaver (which is essentially Time Machine for REAL SQL Server), client messaging (which can be server-to-client, client-to-server, or client-to-client), server plug-ins (which allows you to put your business logic in the database itself), and multi-version concurrency control (which you have to be a database nerd to understand, so I’ll just link to a description). Cool stuff.

As Paul surmised, 2008 looks like it will be the Year of the Database for REALbasic, which tickles me pink, or at least peach. Geoff showed off some upcoming database features that will be rolled into REALbasic. The first was connection sets for databases: connecting to different databases for development, testing, and production. The second was more exciting: automatic data models, based on the schema of your database. In other words, REALbasic looks at your tables and creates classes for each one, with properties representing the table’s columns. Very, very cool.

After a short break, Inspiring Applications (comprised of Brad Weber and Joe Strout) took the stage and announced Yuma. I’m so freaking excited about Yuma that I can barely write about it. It’s an HTML preprocessor like PHP, but with REALbasic syntax. This is good because PHP is nasty. It’s powerful and ubiquitous, but it looks like someone with a mouthful of punctuation sneezed all over my screen. Yuma appears to be powerful, flexible, and reasonably priced. Kudos to Inspiring Applications on this one. I think I heard Swordfish die, only to be reborn in a new form.

Lastly, the three keynote contest winners gave their talks. First up was Paul Lefebvre, who gave us all a much appreciated reminder on the value of simplicity. Paul is the Community Evangelist for REALbasic, and I was glad to hear him speak on simplicity. I’d heard one of his sessions at REAL World before, so I knew I’d enjoy his talk. Next was my boss and friend David Mancuso, who talked about how REALbasic has transformed how we do things at Etown. David is a great presenter and spent a lot of time talking about how awesome I am, so two thumbs up! Lastly was Jay Jennings, the man with the mohawk, who gave me a much needed kick in the pants about marketing my stuff. His best line: “I went to get a PCjr in 1984 but went to the wrong store and ended up buying an Apple II by accident.” Hehe.

After the morning keynote a nice lunch, we began with the breakout sessions. I attended Version Control and Team Development by Jon Johnson and then Internet Classes by Andrew Bredow. Both were very good. Then I taught my two sessions, which I think went pretty well.

And then there was dinner. Wow. They took us to the Alamo Drafthouse, which is a movie theater and a restaurant. They bring you the food right in the theater seats. Then they showed Back To The Future complete with MST3k-style commentary from Master Pancake Theater, three very funny guys. I mean very funny. My face still hurts from laughing. The food was good, too.

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