Today I am thankful for Real Studio.

Every now and then, I come across a product or technology that not only makes my life better, but it changes the direction of my career.

Real Studio, for those who don’t know, is a cross-platform development environment. I started using it when it was still called REALbasic, back around 2002 or so. I had been trying to get into computer programming for years before that, but it never really “took” with me. One day my friend (and boss at the time) Dave came into my office and said, “Have you thought about REALbasic?”

Dave and I were trying to come up with ideas for our own business, and one of those ideas was custom software. We began with FileMaker Pro, but we quickly hit the limits of what we could do with it. So I tried REALbasic, and it was like the heavens opened. Suddenly I could write my own software, and it was easy.

At that point, my career started to change. I had been doing mostly tech support, along with a bit of database work and some web design, up to that point. After diving into REALbasic, I started spending more and more time building custom applications, at work and at home.

I became very involved in the REALbasic community, which is a friendly and supportive bunch. I attended Real World, the developer conference for REALbasic programmers, five times. I even presented at the conference for three years in a row. Somehow I ended up as original board member of the Association of REALbasic Professionals (although I had to step before their public launch because of family issues).

At work, I developed Kodiak, a student information system that I built from the ground up to do attendance, discipline, grades, transcripts, report cards, assessment tracking, progress monitoring, and state reporting. Kodiak was retired in 2009, but I learned an amazing amount building it. I even built a parent portal using a different programming language: PHP, which is what I use every day in my job now.

At home, I wrote some shareware programs that mostly revolved around blogging. I never made much money from them, but I learned a lot, and I earned enough to buy a new computer (granted, it was a piece of junk white box from Tiger Direct, but still).

Learning REALbasic, later renamed Real Studio, gave me the confidence I needed to learn other programming languages. It literally changed the course of my career and my life.

Maybe I should write a book about it….

I am thankful for Real Studio.

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