Return to Delphi!

I couldn’t help myself using this very title to welcome you all back to my new website, due to recent blog posts that caught my eye on DelphiFeeds.com.

Some of you already have noticed that my activity in the community has increased recently. I spent the last couple of weeks setting up a new web page with this very blog. I was never really gone, I just have not been focusing on blogging or providing content myself in the last couple of months… years, actually.

Time flies is all I can say. It feels like yesterday when I walked into a hotel bar in the Netherlands and met Nick Hodges, Bob Swart and DavidI in person for the first time…. people I only knew from the forums. That was in April 2005.

Back then all hope was lost. Microsoft had just released Visual Studio 2005 Beta 2 and everybody was yapping about the fact that the future for Delphi was not very good. Some companies already made migration to other languages their main area of expertise. Native code was not going to be around for much longer and Microsoft supplied C# to fill that gap. They even designed a language called J# to gain interest from the Java community. People relying on native code were panicking as they were unable to transfer time-critical applications to .NET or Java. Web development with ASP.NET was “the thing” in the .NET world and insiders already knew that forms were going to replaced with XAML and a new approach to GUI design very soon.

At that stage Visual Studio did not have any Express editions yet. Those were released in January 2006 — and yes, I had to look that up. Times were turbulent back then, but that made it interesting at the same time.

Granted, many things have disappeared from the Delphi world since then: ECO was discontinued first, then VCL.NET and then there was no longer a .NET compiler or support for ASP.NET for Delphi. I was (and still am) a huge supporter of model-driven development. Application design with a well-typed data model and a formal query language in place made things so much easier. However, the learning curve was very high and it was hard to integrate into existing projects as it was a completely different approach to software development. I also prefered VCL.NET to Winforms, which is still around these days.

So, ten years later we should have surely forgotten about native code and everybody should have switched to C# or any other .NET language. Especially as Microsoft announced back then that the next operating system would no longer allow for native code to be run at all….

Oh, how things turned out differently….

Delphi is still 100% native code. We still have the VCL. The language has gotten a decent refurbishment with a compiler that allows for 64-Bit development. Furthermore, multi-platform development has been made available by a new framework called FireMonkey that has huge similarities to our good-ol’-pal the VCL.

There is no sign of Delphi not being prepared for the next years to come. None whatsoever. An update has just been announced which is going to take the next step to map FMX controls to native controls on other platforms. Believe me, I had my fair share of fights with TableView Controllers in iOS (their grid/list control) — I will gladly use a TListView or TStringGrid that handles all those chores for me.

Interestingly, .NET changed a lot too at the same time. Most of it has become open-source and Microsoft is making an effort for multi-platform development as well (“Hello Linux!”). J# has been discontinued. Winforms was never replaced by XAML. ASP.NET was completely rethought…. I guess, looking back, picking the best tool for the job you can work most efficent with was key back then.

Putting trust in Delphi was never a wrong decision and there will always be people fearing the worst.

So, it is good to be back. Let’s hope for another 10 years just as exciting as the last!

(Technical topics will follow from now on…promised.)

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