Notes from the States – Day 4: REAL World First Day Proper

So yesterday was the first day of the whole reason I’m here, REAL World 2006 Users Conference.

As usual my body clock still thinks that 04:30 is actually 10:30, so I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep as much as I tried. Didn’t help when the room next door’s (there’s a locked adjoining door) alarm clock went off at 06:00, and then had two phone calls. So much for the early night and sleep through to 07:30. By the end of the week I might just be adjusted to this time-zone as I leave for home!

Knocked off a couple of support requests and stuff before heading down to registration. Saw Aaron Ballman in the restaurant getting grilled by a small group, so joined in! Learnt a few juicy things about input handling and the things they have to go through to ensure REALbasic works on the many different keyboards out there. Also confirmed some stuff I wanted to know about the IDE’s code editor, there’s functionality there that may one day be relevant to CaseDetective.

At registration got my t-shirt and badge like everybody else and then got stuck in to the pastries and coffee that was available, glad I didn’t order breakfast before, those pastries were yummy, I love that French custardy stuff who’s name I always forget (confectionary custard?). Briefly chatted to Brad Rhine, and saw many faces that I recognize from their blogs or from RBDeveloper profiles.

The keynote for me was all about one announcement, soon there will be the ability to save our projects out to multiple flat text files, so we can use any version control we fancy and get proper diffing and individual modifications tracking! Woohoo! There were a lot of cheers for that one.

But there were plenty of other things in the keynote:

* New regional REAL Software offices, e.g. European and Chinese offices.
* Over 100,000 customers so far, aiming much higher for the future.
* Stuff coming in RB2006r2 and later:
> Localization of IDE
> MySQL plugin supporting latest versions
> Support for Oracle Instant Client
> Improved ODBC
> Even better VB compatibility (e.g. With statement, Currency datatype, improved VB conversion)
> SSL Socket with proxy support (tracking OpenSSL)
> Plugin API for datatypes
* Definitely after RB2006r2:
> Mac Intel (Universal Binary)
> Compile to Cocoa, which means using standard edit field and therefore enabling in-built auto-complete, spelling and full contextual menu etc, core graphics and proper composite windows with optimized clipping and refresh and so on, all standard controls will use Cocoa base where possible but retain current RB functionality
* RB apps already work fine with Windows Vista (theme savvy)
* Swordfish … still working on it
* REAL SQL Sever
> One database engine, one source of support for your customers
> Easy to install and use (just drag binaries onto computer and run, has monitor app, backup etc)
> RB plugin, C and PHP clients (with more to come)
> it’s fast, across suite of tests was 2x faster than PostgreSQL, 4x faster than MySQL

My notes aren’t complete, there was plenty of other market information and other nuggets of information. I should warn that as my notes aren’t complete I may have got things wrong too, so take everything above as pure rumour and not fact.

Lunch was nice, met some great people and had some good discussions about many things, which is a theme that has repeated throughout my time here. Meeting people that I know from the NUG or forums or people I’ve never heard of before has been extremely valuable, the things you learn from just a 2 minute conversation can be very very enlightening.

After lunch I attended Aaron’s “A Deep Look At Threads” session. Great session, even though I’ve read the stuff on his blog and bought the two threading articles from I still learnt a couple of things, or rather had a couple of ideas verified by his talk and questions posed by other attendees. I really know the difference between preemptive and cooperative threading now, and why we’re really lucky to have cooperative.

Then I attended Jon’s “Mastering Declares” session, which for me was the best of the day. He succinctly explained how to construct declares and his examples were great. It was particularly useful when he showed how to use the new structures functionality with declares, and when he showed how easy it was to use an array in a structure I was over the moon! I just need to make sure I get the example code he wrote off him, I’ll have to chase him down for that stuff.

The final (2 hour) session I attended was the Cocoa one, where Jon showed off the Cocoa functionality that he’s been working on for almost a year now. Really good stuff, not particularly applicable to what I’m doing just now but very interesting all the same.

My mind was too frazzled to attend the coding contest, so I just did a bit of email and started to write this post before going down for dinner and drinks.

As mentioned earlier, these social situations are where attending these conferences really shows it’s worth. During the evening I got to chat, have a beer with and play pool with people that I never imagined I’d ever meet, people who’s products I use and were more than happy to discuss features, how they achieved them and many other technical and plain interesting things. It wasn’t all techy, it’s nice to just chat about life too.

It was a great evening that finished just past midnight for me, falling very quickly into deep and very needed sleep.