The future of Delphi looks brighter than ever before

  

A few weeks ago I was invited to a meet and greet in Brussels with David Intersimone, better known as David I in the Delphi Community. David was going to tell us something about the future Roadmap for Delphi.
The last 10 years I have been developing software using Borland Delphi (later on CodeGear, and now Embarcadero), and this was the perfect opportunity to get some ‘behind the scenes’ information.
Delphi Everywhere
The message was very clear, but it came somewhat as a surprise to me when David I mentioned the Mission Statement : Delphi Everywhere. Later on during the session he even said Native Delphi Everywhere, mentioning Mac OS X, Linux, but also mobile devices. He even hinted at possibilities to build phone (even iPhone) applications using Delphi.
At that time I didn’t really know what to think about it, but the possibilities of developing applications for Mobile Devices sounded, well … to be honest, it sounded like a dream. But during the course of the other presentations, I noticed that they might actually be pretty close to fulfilling it !
Delphi Touch
Well, they actually called it Delphi Natural Input to be correct. The goal is to allow delphi and it’s VCL components to interact with many different forms of input devices ranging from touch screens, surface tables, accelerometers, GPS, Speech, WebCams, …
All these features will get included in a future version of the Delphi VCL. Since I am working on a Mac, and am using an iPhone, I had a pretty good idea about the possibilities, but I never thought it would be possible to achieve something like that in Delphi. Well, David I showed us a demo, and proved me I was wrong …
The demo was actually pretty simple, and didn’t require any programming at all. All you had to do was add a new GestureManager component to your application. The next step would be creating the gestures or using one of the many predefined gestures already available in the Gesture Manager. The only thing you had to do was add some code in the OnGesture event and execute some code based on the Gesture that triggered it.
For those who have been developing in Delphi, you could actually compare it to a TActionList in which you can add some default actions, and add your own custom actions as well.
At this point it became clear to me that the possibility of creating applications for Mobile Devices using Delphi wasn’t just a dream. Apparently they have already spent quite some work on it, and the whole Gestures thing demonstrated that it could actually be done.
The Delphi Roadmap
I was glad to see that de team behind Delphi is very busy working on the next releases of Delphi. Apparently de developers have been divided into several teams working on a few bug projects. I will give you a brief list of those projects and what they will be focusing on. Don’t ask me about release dates, since they didn’t mention any. As David wisely said : There are 75 or more ways to ask us when it will be shipping, and there is only one right answer “When it’s ready”
Project Weaver
Project “Weaver” will mainly be focusing on larger and smaller IDE enhancements, improved usability and productivity.
Added support for Natural Input devices like Touch, Gestures, …
Improved documentation and increased Team Productivity
DataSnap with HTTP support, built in REST server, and .Net proxies for DataSnap
IDE Insight ™ – Keyboard access to everything
Windows 7 API support and Direct2D
Enhanced RTTI Support
Source Code Control with a new Open Tools API interface that provides support for Source Control Management (Weaver will have some Subversion Implementation)
.Net Aspect Oriented Programming (this seemed quite impressive to me)

Project Delphi X
Cross-platform Windows, Linux and MacOS
Some other features under consideration :
Cross-platform component library
DataSnapX with the ability to create both the Server and the Client on Windows, MacOS, Linux and the Web
Project Chromium
The main thrust of Chromium will be quality, quality and quality…
Focus on developer productivity (Enhancing usability, Remove long-standing issues, Focus on closing as many bugs as possible, Setting a new standard of reliability …
Lightweight O/R mapping
Documentation of the OTA
A new Databinding model allowing binding to almost any property on a control.
More integration with the database tools
Project Commodore
Bring native 64-bit development to Delphi, C++ Builder and the VCL
Some other features under consideration :
Full compiler, RTL and VCL support for native 64 Compilation
Multi-Core / Multi-Threaded applications
Support for parallelization in the RTL
And much more to come
It looks like there is a lot more to come, and some projects might come in Parallel. Sadly, no information was given on when a specific product would be available to the public. The only thing David I mentioned was that the plan is to get a new version of Delphi each year.
TMS Smooth Controls : TAdvSmoothListBoxTMS Smooth Controls
Here in Belgium we have quite a few Delphi developers, and we also have companies like TMSSoftware who are developing some very nice components. There were some a few people from TMS Software in the room, and they gave us a brief demo of their TMS Smooth Controls Pack which is a set of feature-rich, sophisticated looking & smoothly animated controls.
The controls really looked impressive and immediately gave me the impression you would have when using an iPhone application. The components looked clean, pretty, had lots of animations.
Those of us who have been using an iPhone know what I am talking about. When navigating from one page to the other on the iPhone’s applications screen, you get a smooth animation instead of simply repainting the whole screen. Well, the Smooth Controls did exactly the same thing on Windows. This gave everything a smoother and more visual look and feel
Conclusion
I actually missed the first part of the day due to traffic, but I gladly got there in time for the Delphi Roadmap, and I must say, it looks impressive. There have been times when we didn’t know what to expect from Delphi, and some people even thought the good old days were over for Delphi. For those of you who are still hesitating about the future of Delphi, … well, … let me tell you :
The Future of Delphi looks brighter than ever before !

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