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What is the future of Delphi

Posted on 2008-10-09
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Last Modified: 2012-05-05
I have an opportunity to do some development work in Delphi.  
I have done a little research and I am concerned because I think I see signs of a dying product.
- Spinning off from Borland
- Bought Up by Embarcadero
Most forum and newsgroup discussions are years old with little activity over the last two years.

My question to the community is this:
Am I reading the tea leaves correctly?  
Is Delphi worth investing the time needed to become skilled in the language and the price of purchasing the tools.
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Question by:j-a-c-k
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Expert Comment

by:Geert Gruwez
ID: 22684876
Depends which direction you want to go ...

Are you going the .Net way, C# is allways slightly ahead

Or are you doing machine software like PLC ?

and what newsgroups are you looking at ?
Have you checked the activity for Delphi here ?

Or tried the following sites to see what components you can get ?
http://www.devexpress.com
http://www.tmssoftware.com
http://www.torry.net

etc.etc.

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Assisted Solution

by:BigRat
BigRat earned 50 total points
ID: 22686808
It is really a shame the way TurboPascal has been messed around with. It was from gthe beginning a far, far better language than C and when object orientated mechanisms were built in (around 1990) it was far, far better than C++ - and in my opinion still is.

The real problem came with the Borland/Inprise mess. The company wanted to sell databases and sold Delphi as a database tool. I remember getting sales crap on Delphi about a year after buying TurboPascal for Windows. I could not make head nor tail about what they were going on about. Why change the name?

The next mess was with Kylix. Why Kylix what not just Delphi? First they never saw the need to port to different platforms - which of couse gives you problems with the VCL. Second the Kylix never really got off the ground. And thirdly they managed to get all their units mixed up - not only between Linux and Windows but also in the various Delphi Versions. I bought Delphi 3 and had a hell of a job moving from TurboPascal. Then I bought 5 and had to report again, although with less effort. I have since then resolutely refused to upgrade again.

Now there is the FreePascal community, and so far my Delphi code compiles seemlessly with FreePascal, although I don't use much in the VCL and the UnicodeSynEdit components I use I use only on Windows. This gives me programs which run on Windows and on Linux. On the other hand the IDE for FreePascal is called Lazarus (why?) and seems to go off in its own direction. At first it was very buggy, but these days it has settled down a bit.

So if Delphi dies I shall switch completely to FreePascal.

On the other hand Java which came after Delphi is a very good language, but unfortunately Sun refused the standardisation. Furthermore I was shocked to find out, on the first Windows NT platform, that the Widget library was not Unicode enabled, although the language was, and that this was because there were some undocumented Sun classes doing the dirty work.

I came as no surprise then that MS invented C#, which is so near Java as to be a copy. So MS is now programming in a modern proper lanuage and not that C++ mess.

I recently downloaded a bit if open source code which compiles in g++ on SUSE Linux 9.2 I tried compiling on SUSE Linux 11.0. No way! All sorts of include file problems.

The open source community, although very good, free and these days of quality, does NOT understand what MS understands that we developers need stable and reliable tools and lots of information. We don't want things "changed for the better" when they cause incompatibilites.

So quo vardis Delphi. Sorry but nowhere, unless it ends up open source and gets ported around and somebody finally understands that all change is not always for the better.
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Author Comment

by:j-a-c-k
ID: 22686901
Geert_Gruwez
Thanks for the input.  I will check out the sites you recommended.
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Assisted Solution

by:moorhouselondon
moorhouselondon earned 50 total points
ID: 22695403
I use Delphi and have no plans to change (Delphi 2007 Enterprise, upgraded from v6 a year ago-ish).  Delphi is very reliable - I can leave a project that I'm working on open for days on end, compiling, testing, editing, with never a need to reboot.  Portability when deploying apps is crucial, with Delphi the only "baggage" needed depends purely on the database technology in your code, that's a third-party issue that will arise with any dev tool.  

First Codegear then Embarcadero names started being associated with the product recently I have been kept very well-informed of seminars, product upgrades, etc.  (I am in UK - we are often considered a backwater when new products come to market - or that's how it appears to me) Embarcadero look committed to the product.  Trouble with all technology is that it is moving too fast for its own good.  Pushing the envelope sounds good, but eventually you will look back and find the contents of that envelope strewn all over the roadway.  Security is the big gotcha because programmers using these tools assume that the code they are using is perfect in terms of security issues.  All the new stuff coming out: how secure is it?  Buffer Overflows, Cross scripting, etc.  Castles on sand might look impressive and clever, but regardless of the bells and whistles the user says he/she wants, reliability is the most important feature of all.  IMHO Delphi delivers that.

Coding-wise, if you need assistance with coding, eradicating a bug, learning new techniques you can get a "solid" answer if you ask in the right places (the Delphi topic area on EE is a good, up-to-date resource), there's not so much of the wishy washy uncertainty you get with other tools - Delphi engenders good programming practices. ...but then I'm biased... (I started with Algol, moved on to Coral, then Turbo Pascal, bought Delphi 1 as soon as it came out).
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Assisted Solution

by:Wim ten Brink
Wim ten Brink earned 50 total points
ID: 22701045
My two cents... Since I've been programming in Pascal since 1986 (Turbo Pascal 3 back then) and since I've played with every Delphi version ever since, I have to agree that the future of Delphi tends to be a bit worrying...
First of all, Delphi has absolutely no chance to survive on the .NET platform since it's dominated by C# and VB.NET. Delphi would always be behind the Microsoft languages. Embarcadero might continue to try and stay present on the .NET platform but it's competing against a colossal Giant that dictates what newer versions will be able to do. Do keep in mind that .NET was created so many different languages could be used to compile for this platform, yet only a few languages have become real popular.

However, Delphi will be the number one compiler for the WIN32 platform and possibly for the WIN64 platform. Microsoft is offering less support for native compilers and focusing more on managed compilers. Yet there will always be a need for native applications for performance issues and many other reasons. So there's a strong future for Delphi here. And if Embarcadero keeps bundling it's native compilers with their .NET compilers, they continue to be able to support the .NET platform somehow. Perhaps long enough for the Microsoft .NET domination to end. (Which it will, since users won't keep upgrading.)

Finally, it's a good move that Borland made the Delphi product part of a new company. Borland itself wants to focus more on the Business to Business markets, with their application Lifetime Management tools and whatever more. Embarcadero can focus a lot more on creating development tools and this company already has some very useful products that will now be combined with Delphi, creating an even better product. Embarcadero can listen more to the Delphi users and doesn't have to give those bigger B2B contracts more focus.

I also heard a rumour that CodeGear was bought by Embarcadero, but Embarcadero itself has been bought again by Borland and Borland is keeping this company separate from it's main business. This is still just a rumour, though. But it does explain why CodeGear was sold for such a low amount.
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Author Comment

by:j-a-c-k
ID: 22702329
Since this post was soliciting your opinions, I am not sure how to award points.  I will defer to the moderator for help on that.
All of your opinions were helpful; however, I have not found a compelling reason to either accept this project or to reject it.  I will have to invest my time prudently and see how it evolves.
Thank You all for your thoughts.
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Accepted Solution

by:
Johnjces earned 100 total points
ID: 22704084
Before you close this Q one way or another, here are a couple more links in which the "polls" are showing a great rise in Delphi use and popularity and showing a bright future.

http://delphibistro.com/?p=63

http://www.delphi.org/2008/10/delphi-language-of-the-year-2008/

http://www.monien.net/blog/index.php/2008/10/delphi-back-in-top-ten/

By the way, the moderators will defer to you in closing the Q or in months will most likly split points. If I were you I would split points among all decent answers.

John
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