REBOL/Core Alpha to be Released

The Alpha-test version of REBOL/Core is in its final stage of development and internal testing. Over the last month the software has become stable enough to use for important jobs, such as running our email list server (Rebot) and converting our reference documentation to HTML. Over the week ahead we will be finishing a few important documents and will begin to distribute the main program, documentation, and examples to the people on our Email Announcement List who have asked to test it.

Why just an Alpha Release?

This release of REBOL/Core is packed with many useful datatypes and functions; however, we consider this to be an Alpha because some of the main concepts are still evolving. We need the freedom to continue to improve REBOL's core technology without concern for compatibility of an application base.

In other words... function names and operations are subject to change as testing proceeds. (Prototypes testers should expect that the Alpha will be different from the earlier versions.) In addition there are a number of crucial features that are not currently implemented that we would like to include in the Beta release.

REBOL on Multiple Platforms!

During October Carl ported the REBOL/Core to a few other platforms, primarily as a test of kernel code computability. The Alpha version now runs on the Amiga, Linux (X86), PC, and Macintosh. All of these will be available for Alpha release, and we expect to add other platforms in the months ahead.

How to obtain REBOL

REBOL is not yet available for general distribution. However, if you would like a private copy of the Alpha release for testing, join our Email List for information and instructions.

What Does it Cost?

We are planning to release REBOL as shareware ($50 US) for private non-commercial and educational uses. This will be a fully enabled version, with no sly shareware limitations, tricks, or gimmicks. Commercial, packaged, and licensed versions will also be available for businesses, institutions, and government use. However, we remain open to your comments on this topic.



What is REBOL?

REBOL is the Relative Expression-Based Object Language designed over several years by Carl Sassenrath, the software architect known for the Amiga multitasking operating system.

REBOL offers an easy way to share and exchange information and functions between computers and applications. It is designed for organizing data and executing simple tasks. REBOL is meant for users, hobbyists, educators, web writers, multimedia authors, technicians, experimenters... anyone who seeks solutions to various problems that they face in the modern world of network computing.

If you've written HTML or shell scripts, you can write REBOL. It is a messaging language, not a programming language. In essence, REBOL scripts treat the Internet as if it were your own personal computer. Messages can be transferred using existing Email, Web, and FTP (file transfer), but it will also allow direct communications through a new type of message port. Messages can be as simple as a single line or as complex as a mini-application.

How is REBOL pronounced? We say it as in the noun rebel, which means "a person who resists authority, suppression, or domination". (And, a lot of people like to add the words "of Microsoft" to the end of that definition.)

REBOL Examples

A few examples will quickly provide you a general sense of how REBOL can be used. If you want to print text, you can do so with a single line such as:

print "Hello World!"

or, if you want to send that text as an email message to a friend:

send friend@domain.com "Hello World!"

To execute a REBOL script stored on a web site:

do http://www.rebol.com/scripts/address-book.r

or, from an FTP site (anonymous login used here):

do ftp://rebol.com/scripts/address-book.r

If you want to grab a web page and save it as a file, you could write two lines:

file: load http://www.cnet.com
save %cnet.html file

or just the line:

save %cnet.html load http://www.cnet.com

But, what if you need to send that page to a friend:

send friend@domain.com load http://www.cnet.com

Or, maybe you want to examine your email, but you don't want to remove it from the server quite yet:

foreach message mailbox [print message]

However, suppose you need to do a few, more sophisticated operations, like getting information from your friend's address book application:

info: ask rebol:domain.com/friend/address-book [
    find-name "billy"
]

which you're going to store in your own address book application running as a separate program on your computer:

send rebol:/address-book/new-entry info

Another friend wants you to email all the files in your current directory:

files: load %*
foreach file files [send ami@there.net load file]

or, perhaps all the files should be sent as a single message:

message: ""
foreach file files [copy tail message load file]
send ami@there.net message

In thinking about it, you decide now would be a good time to send your broker that stock transaction (which her computer receives and auto-executes):

send broker@sell-it-now.com {
    Company: "Microsoft"
    Symbol:  MSFT
    Shares:  1000
    Price:   132.54
    Action:  sell
]

Your boss wants several web pages emailed to him at 10:30AM each morning for the next ten days. So, you fire up a separate unattended REBOL task:

bossy: make task! [
    pages: [
        http://www.cnet.com
        http://www.rebol.com/docs/doc.html
        http://www.news-wire.com/news/today.html
    ]
 
    loop 10 [
       wait 10:25AM  ; (boss likes stuff early)
       foreach page pages [send boss@work.net load page]
    ]
]
do bossy  ; (make it happen)

Or (this one is "complicated"), your friend is going to send you an email with a REBOL script that you need to execute as soon as it arrives, then send the result back to her:

wait mailbox
foreach message mailbox [
    if ? find message hillary@wh.gov [
        send hillary@wh.gov do message
    ]
]

You get the idea! But, how would you ever know it could be this easy? To start, we will provide 101 basic scripts on our WWW.REBOL.COM web site. In addition, we will archive thousands of scripts written by others... as source code that you can use to create your own messages and scripts.

REBOL v.s. Java

They are totally different. REBOL, as was said above, is for sending messages, organizing data and executing simple tasks... and, it is meant for users, hobbyists, educators, web writers, multimedia authors, technicians and experimenters. The examples above give you an idea of how it can be applied.

Java is an advanced object-oriented distributed programming language meant for software engineers and application designers. It is very good... what C++ should have been ten years ago. In Java the "Hello World" example above would be:

class HelloWorld {
    public static void main (String args[]) {
        System.out.println("Hello World!");
    }
}

To those who understand object-oriented programming, Java is good stuff. Programmers love it! But... more casual users might want other choices too.



Other Information

Contributions!

If you like what you see, you can contribute in a several ways:

1. Send us a $50 contribution (we need it!)
2. Tell others about REBOL or ask them to visit WWW.REBOL.COM
3. Join our Email Announcement List
4. Add web links to WWW.REBOL.COM (banner: jpg gif)
5. Test REBOL Alpha and send us comments and bugs
6. Translate documents into other languages
7. Help write examples and documents about REBOL

The development of REBOL has been our full-time occupation for more than a year now! There is no other funding other than from you! This is a "do it or bust" vision, and we need your support. Contributions can be made from anywhere in the world with First Virtual or send it directly to us at:

Carl Sassenrath
PO Box 264
Calpella, CA 95418
USA

E-Mail Announcement List

If you would like to be kept informed of REBOL news and releases, please send a message to our REBOL "BOT" (written in REBOL of course):

To: rebot@sassenrath.com (yes rebot, not rebol)
Subject: Add

You will receive a confirmation that you have been added to the list, and you can remove your name at any time. More features will be added to Rebot in the future, such as allowing you to request documentation, examples, program updates, registration, applications, etc.

Reference Manual Changes...

Due to a shortage of resources, the REBOL Reference Manual previously published on this Web site has fallen behind actual changes. Although the basic ideas remain the same, a few of the details have changed and new concepts have been introduced (many aspects of the system have not yet been published, e.g. the concepts of Paths, Ports, and Tasks). We will be publishing the manual again, once it has been updated.



Copyright Carl Sassenrath 1997
REBOL is a Trademark of Carl Sassenrath


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