In a manner reminiscent of List Processing (Lisp) or Forth, it's good REBOL style to extend the base language with domain-specific jargon that precisely expresses a solution. That's a dialect.
REBOL Technologies offers several dialects. REBOL/View is a GUI toolkit that's proved surprisingly popular and has several applications in production. REBOL/Serve manages the publication and distribution of information within an organization. The catalogue of dialects expands each month.
Almost all of the aforementioned features were in place by 1998. Since then, REBOL has been largely successful and has generally delivered on its promises to developers.
The company is now releasing a few important changes. In early autumn, the REBOL core will take on three of the most important enhancements since REBOL's first release:
- Shell access to external processes
- Simplified database-management system communication, starting with Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) and Oracle interfaces
- In-process connections to foreign libraries
Sassenrath has also been refining REBOL/View. He said proudly, "I really have strong feelings about it. It's the easiest way on the planet to create a [graphical] user interface. The power of dialecting in user interface systems is quite exciting."
Technically, then, REBOL is a hit: it has happy users, enough vitality to grow according to their needs, plenty of real-life applications, an interesting syntax, and even its own magazine, REBOL Forces. But is it sustainable?
Who's paying for all this?
Remember, REBOL is a proprietary language. Its long-term future depends on REBOL Technologies's revenue. As important as its technical advances have been, the biggest REBOL news of the last six months was on the business side.
REBOL Technologies was originally conceived as a tools company that concentrated on selling to developers, like ActiveState Tool or the old Borland. A base commercial license to work with REBOL is relatively inexpensive: only a few hundred dollars.
Regardless of REBOL Technologies's profits from sales of the language and various runtime and dialect licenses, its prospects have excited venture capitalists, who provide most of the company's resources. In 1998, a first round from Avalon Investments sustained it through the 1.0 and 2.0 releases of REBOL/Core; a second round will likely be complete by the time you read this.
Financing REBOL for the next couple years would be momentous. Even more significant, though, is the company's shift to a product orientation.