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First Look: Revolution 3.0, cross-platform compiler

updated 03:30 pm EDT, Fri September 12, 2008

Revolution 3.0

Almost everyone has had an idea for a computer program, but trying to convert those ideas into a working application has usually meant using confusing, complicated tools and learning cryptic programming languages such as C++. To make programming more accessible for novices and more productive for veteran programmers, Runtime Revolution offers a unique cross-platform development tool dubbed Revolution 3.0.

The most unique feature of this program is its cross-platform capabilities. Not only can you write programs on Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux, but you can also create applications for each operating system as well. Write a program once on your Mac and with a click of the mouse, you can create three different versions of your program.

Each time you create a program for a specific operating system, your program takes on the native appearance of that operating system. That means a Windows version of your program won't look like a poorly ported version of a Mac version of your program and vice versa. By freeing you from dealing with the quirks and complexity of each operating system, this tool lets you focus on making your program work.

Besides wrestling with operating systems, most programming tools also force you to learn arcane language commands with rigid syntax rules. Omit a single character such as a curly bracket or a semicolon and your program will refuse to work. As a result, it's nearly impossible for novice programmers to create any but the most trivial programs.

In comparison, this tool uses an English-like programming language based on the Mac's own AppleScript language. To display text on the screen, you might use a simple, English-like command as follows:

put "My message" into message

Such intuitive commands make writing a program easy, but also makes understanding and modifying a program later just as simple too. Of course, one problem with learning an AppleScript-based programming language is that there are few books or training classes available. To overcome this lack of training, this program includes plenty of online tutorials and documentation such as a language dictionary that organizes commands into different topics.

Learning this English-like programming language isn't difficult, but if you're already familiar with traditional programming languages such as C++ or BASIC, this unconventional programming language may prove initially confusing. However, if you're already familiar with AppleScript, you'll have no trouble programming in this language right away.

Writing language commands can make your program work, but you still need to create a user interface. Like most modern development tools, this one also includes a way to draw your program's interface in a window and customize the different parts.

Creating a menu bar with pull-down menus is just as simple. Just type in your titles, create a list of commands that appear under each title, and you'll create your application's menu bar. Then you'll just need to write commands to make your menu options actually do something.

With plenty of tutorials and sample programs, Revolution 3.0 does its best to guide novice and experienced programmers alike into using this unusual development tool, which models itself on Apple's antiquated HyperCard program. Like HyperCard, Revolution 3.0 allows non-programmers to write their own programs with little formal training.

If you're willing to learn its programming language, Revolution 3.0 will reward you with a development tool that makes it easy to write programs faster and easier, for multiple platforms, without any extra effort. Revolution is available is three versions: Media ($49), Studio ($249), and Enterprise ($499).

by MacNN Staff



  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Correction and Endorsemen

    The language used in Runtime Revolution is not based on Applescript. Both it and Applescript are loosely based on Apple's HyperTalk, which is the language used in HyperCard. So Rev and Applescript are somewhat like siblings.

    The best part about RunRev is not any of the in-product features, but an extremely friendly, calm and supportive community. So if there's even the most basic problem for beginners, they should feel free to ask any question on the mailing list or in the forum. As a long time User, I can of course heartily suggest this tool.

  1. mpetrides

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Rev is great!

    I've been using Revolution since 2000. It is terrific way to create very professional looking and functional software quickly. I've used it to create two major pieces of educational software that have been published by the American Association of Blood Banks--and I've done so in my spare time from my full-time job.

    The cross-platform features work seamlessly. I create software on a Mac and then deploy it on both Mac and Windows with little additional effort (mostly having to do with font differences between the two platforms).

    The new multidimensional array support in Rev 3 is an really welcome addition! And the price drop makes Revolution even more affordable than it was before.

    All in all, I think it's hard to beat the features, ease of coding, and price of Revolution. RunRev even offers full-featured demo versions that you can try for 30 days before buying, which is how I ended up purchasing Revolution all those years ago. Check it out at:

    And NO I do not work for RunRev but I am a very satisfied long term customer.

  1. Buttercup

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Rev -- It's for Everyman!

    Are you a real Geek? Plenty to love here.

    Are you SO not a real Geek but want to ditch PowerPoint? This is SO your product.

    In between the two? You'll fit right in. Don't worry.

    There's a product line for every price point; an educational component (video, book, user list) for every ability. A nicer, more welcoming and helpful support list cannot be found.

    Try it for 30 days... imagine writing code once, then compiling for three separate platforms! Hah! Where else can you do that? And with a high-level language? Right.

    EDUCATORS: DITCH POWERPOINT and try this product out. Now.

    (I don't work for Rev either but highly recommend their product).

  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Nice product

    If you're an old HyperCard user like I am, you will absolutely love this thing. It's like HyperCard for any OS, with ten times the features and hundreds more commands. It sucked in all my old HC stacks and let them run on both Mac and Windows. Amazing. I'm going to move them to Linux next.

  1. mattpat

    Joined: Dec 1969


    "Cool," but...

    I understand that it's always convenient to be able to write once, run anywhere, and for many corporate, in-house projects, this is undoubtedly a huge asset. But don't expect to write the "next big thing" on a Mac with something like this.

    No cross-platform framework can create an app on the Mac that feels as native or as usable as a Cocoa app, and the lack of attention to detail shows (ever used a Qt or Java app on your Mac? you should know what I mean). Windows users don't really care what interfaces look like if their applications work, but the Mac is a totally different ballgame. Great for novice developers, but I call shenanigans on "more productive for veteran programmers."

  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969


    No Tables

    I LOVE Hypercard programming, so imagine my joy when Revolution came along. Imagine how much more excited I was that the apps I build look and feel like the apps on the native platform you compile them for! And imagine how thrilled I was when I discovered they dealt with the old Hypercard bugaboo, which was handling large datasets by using SQL for a backend database!One little problem for me though, is their absolutely abysmal Table object. It is nothing more than a glorified tab delimited text field with some display features to make it look something like a table, but it does not act that way by any stretch of the imagination. Some have actually done a great job using Revolution elements and some very clever scripting to make very usable Table objects, but the issue with those is handling large amounts of data. I have been after Runrev about this for some time and they don't seem to think Table objects are a big priority, but for ANY database app, table objects are a MUST HAVE! And for my money, it would be AWESOME to be able to link table objects to arrays or even better to an SQL query, in such a way that updates to the table do real time updates to the SQL database. Obviously this would have to be optional, but THAT would be a HUGE selling point IMHO.

  1. FourthWorld

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Highest ROI yet

    We've developed with a great many tools over the years, from Think C to XCode and a dozen scripting languages in between. No other tool has delivered the strong ROI for the software we produce than Revolution.

    I saw a comment earlier about native appearances. Not sure what that's about, since our apps have thousands of happy Mac users who thank us for the native look-and-feel of our multi-platform products on OS X. In fact, reviewers at Mac journals give our Rev-built products 4.5-out-of-5 reviews, so something must be working well. :)

    Overall our customers and clients have been quite pleased with what we can deliver with Rev.

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