Aquarium Blog

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Delphi Roadmap

I found today the Product Roadmap for Delphi, through a post in Julian Bucknall’s blog (Julian is the CTO at DevExpress) .

There seem to be some good news, but it still feels like everyone is avoiding the sad truth: The declining relevance of Delphi in the market.

I happen to be a .NET developer that holds some remote but very nice memories of coding on Object Oriented Turbo Pascal and Delphi.

I respect Delphi. I appreciate the importance of the existing codebase and the skill set of Delphi developers. I admire the people that worked on its design and the people that are working on it now. Like so, I believe in Delphi as a language and in Delphi as an “ecosystem”. I want those things to remain relevant. Actually, I think those are the core assets CodeGear still holds.

I don't really know if it is possible to build a sustainable business model solely on those essential values, but once you have this, next step would be to listen to what really make sense for developers.

My personal take: I believe in managed code and I could not care less about Win32. On one side, I see all sorts of cool things happening around the CLR. On the other side, the latest incarnation of the main Win32 vehicle, that is, Windows Vista, now comes with .NET 3.0 installed.

You may not completely love Vista, but no doubt that in a couple of years, most Windows computers out there will have at least .NET 3.x installed. Win32 is just a necessary evil, and perhaps it is not even so necessary!

The thing I love the most about .NET is the amount of existing code I can use and extend, regardless of the language it was originally written in. I also like the way it works with Unicode from the beginning. I love the way it helps me move to 64bits almost seamlessly. These things are mentioned in the Roadmap, and Julian mentions them as big issues (breaking changes for existing code).

I believe in the value of Visual Studio. I like using the designers: Windows Forms and WPF, the new Web Designer, WF, DSL, Team System, and the bunch of new things that will come in VS 2008, just like the new features in C# and VB.

Visual Studio may be not perfect but there are plenty of excellent third party extensions filling the holes. I would love to be able to use things like Refactor Pro! or ReSharper with Delphi.

Even further, it would be sweet to be able to use Delphi with NAnt, MbUnit, NDepends, Windsor, TDD.NET and the whole ALT.NET stack.

It would be awesome to run Delphi on Linux via Mono.

It would be fantastic to run Delphi code on a Mac via Silverlight.

It would be great to run ASP.NET AJAX applications on any browser, powered by Delphi code on the back end.

So, this is my wish list:

0. I said once I wanted Microsoft to buy Delphi from Borland. I think cannot count on this anymore, but what the hell...

1. I would like to see CodeGear to focus on Delphi the language, basically making it really fly on .NET 3.5 as soon as possible, complete with generics and LINQ.

2. I would like to see someone (CodeGear or else) write Visual Studio bindings for Delphi, and shipping Delphi on the Visual Studio 2008 Shell.

3. I would like to see someone (CodeGear or else) to take charge of a good compatibility/migration story for VCL.

4. I am cool with CodeGear wanting to continue the development of Win32 Delphi, to keep their C++ and IDE business, and to make a new Ruby on Rails IDE. I guess they, better than I, can assess if they are contributing anything really new and significant in those areas.

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