BorCon: Delphi 8 targets .NET
- By John K. Waters
SAN JOSE, CA -- As Microsoft steers Windows development away from Win32 into a future of managed code running on the .NET
Framework, Delphi developers are about to find themselves
stuck with a skill set for building applications based on
what the Redmond software giant calls "aging" technology --
unless they picked up a copy of the latest version of
Borland Software's venerable Delphi IDE at its annual
developer conference, held this week (Nov. 1-5) at the San
Jose Convention Center.
Delphi 8 for the Microsoft .NET Framework, released at the
Scotts Valley, Calif.-based toolmaker's 14th annual BorCon
event, is designed to enable Delphi developers to create
.NET Framework-based applications and migrate existing Win32
Delphi applications to the .NET Framework.
"Microsoft has been very clear," Simon Thornhill, VP and GM
for the .NET Solutions Group at Borland, told Programmers
Report. "They're going to all managed code. There is an end
in sight for Win32. If you want to program as a first-class
citizen, you will be moving now to .NET. We're helping
Delphi developers to make that transition."
Delphi 8 features support for all .NET Framework classes,
Thornhill said, including support for Microsoft's ASP.NET
Web Forms and XML Web services, Windows Forms, Microsoft
ADO.NET, a .NET implementation of Borland's Visual Control
Library (VCL) and Borland Data Provider (BDP) for database
applications. Thornhill calls it "a turbocharge for Delphi."
"This opens up a much larger world for Delphi developers,"
he said. "You can now develop for the latest and greatest
Microsoft Windows .NET platform. You can tell your
customers, 'I can take full advantage of the .NET framework,
I can give you the benefits of managed code, all using my
skills as a Delphi developer.' This is a great opportunity
for developers to upgrade their Delphi investments for
Based on Object Pascal, Delphi first appeared in 1995 and
offered Windows developers an object-oriented,
visual-programming approach to application development, as
well as an alternative to Microsoft's Visual Basic. It
quickly drew a fiercely loyal community of users, many of
whom, Thornhill explained, were drawn to it as a means of
rapidly developing applications.
"There are more than 500 Delphi component developers out
there," Thornhill said. "Delphi has very good component
developers, and they have led the way in the market. Visual
Basic is just starting to catch up. So, for component
development, the state of the art was always Delphi. But you
could only share those components with other Delphi
developers. That left all these other Windows developers,
who couldn't join in on the productivity enhancements of
Delphi. With Delphi for .NET, you are now building .NET
components, so you can go out and share those with the
larger .NET world. A Delphi component builder in the past
could sell to the 2 million or so other Delphi developers.
If you're a Delphi component builder today, you can go sell
it to the 7 million-plus .NET developers."
Delphi 8 also features Borland's new Enterprise Core Objects
(ECO) technology for design-driven development. First
introduced in C# Builder, ECO automates several steps that
are manual in the MDA (Model Driven Architecture) process.
ECO is a key component of Borland's Application Lifecycle
Management (ALM) strategy, which seeks to help organizations
align business requirements and software capabilities.
The shift from Win32 to the .NET Framework is fast becoming
a serious issue for Windows developers. According to a
recent survey conducted by industry analysts at the Gartner
Group, by mid-2004 most mainstream organizations anticipate
undertaking serious efforts to migrate Win32 and COM
applications (another "aging" technology) that are expected to be in use beyond 2007 to the Microsoft .NET Framework.
John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached