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October 13, 2006

The Alternative Delphi Roadmap (by Simon Kissel)

Simon Kissel has published a very interesting proposal asking DevCo to invest in the Delphi Win32 (and Linux) more than in the .Net side. Very interesting appraoch.

First of all, I suggest you to read Simon's proposal, The alternative Delphi roadmap to success. (You can also see his original post in this thread).

What do I agree with? Well, most of it. I'm doing 40% win32, 40% Kylix (all my web stuff), 20% .Net (mostly Compact Framework), but I don't this reflects the average Delphi usrs. 90% of the companies I do training or consulting for are Win32 shops. Most of those 10% doing both Win32 and .Net use Delphi for the former and Visual Studio for the latter. And (with the exception of one company) they use only the ASP.NET part of .NET

What I do not agree with? I think we have to take more into the picture different types of development, in particular server side web development, which is growing at a very steady rate (AJAX, Ruby, PHP... not only ASP.NET). I consider .NET mostly a server side development system: is ASP.NET is much more relevant than WinForms, both for Visual Studio and for BDS developers. Is this going to change with Avalon (or WPF)? I doubt. My impression is that Avalon (now known as Windows Presentation Framework) is mostly targeting Flash and Web users, and in the words of Microsoft experts, it is not suited for the user interface of business/database oriented applications.

In other words, Delphi Win32 is still the best tool for client side (standalone utilities) and client/server (business data base apps). In this realm, Delphi for .Net and Kylix are much less relevant.

But if the world is moving to the web: has Delphi anything to offer? It might become an ASP.NET tool, but only if they can avoid following Microsoft at a distance, which is pointless. It might become a way to build PHP modules, as Simon suggests. I have my own idea (which will soon come out in another post). In any case, this is the area Delphi suffers and is loosing developers. Not in the user interface side (at least if you don't consider the CF, which seems still a minor platform).






 

15 Comments

The Alternative Delphi Roadmap (by Simon Kissel) 

I think it would be (another) huge mistake not to 
support .NET, or to support Win32 or Kylix over .NET, 
it has been proven that Kylix has little (to none) 
business value (since Linux people expect free open 
source products)

many people have already moved away from Delphi 
because it didn't support .NET (Delphi 8 doesn't 
really count and D2005 took a long time to get it 
almost right)

Delphi is the King of Win32, no arguments there, but 
the world is moving away from Win32 and Delphi has 
always been platform dependent, if MS Windows moves 
on, Delphi would have to move on to have a chance

what are you thinking for the new generations?, teach 
Win32 programming with Delphi? those jobs are going 
to be extinct by the time they graduate

from the original post:
"72% of people interested into Turbo Editions are 
interested in native development. "
for me that means more like 72% of the Delphi users, 
use Delphi for Win32 but most likely C# for .NET 
development

another point which was probably ignored (didn't read 
the whole thing) is that a lot of the downloads were 
just that, downloads, it didn't even get installed, 
so that would throw the numbers off

it also sounds like most Delphi users are old people 
=o( who are not willing to take the .NET wagon

"Borland can no longer afford investing more and more 
time, energy and money into visions instead of actual 
customer requirements. "
Sigh... forget about Borland...

Has Delphi anything to offer?
I hear a couple of people scream ECO... other than 
that... ?
Comment by Eber Irigoyen [http://ebersys.blogspot.com] on October 13, 03:15

The Alternative Delphi Roadmap (by Simon Kissel) 

Simon is absolutely right.  If I were Borland, I would
change the roadmap based upon his advise!   Trying to
match Microsoft on .NET is a death sentense.  As far
as .NET is concerned, I would include ASP.NET 2.0
support and then add Mono support.  Resurrect Kylix
and focus 75% of your R&D resources on native code
compilers for Win32, Win64 and Linux for Pascal, C++
and maybe even Java.  Go NATIVE baby, go native.  Get
an Australian Aborigal and/or some aboriginal art for
the next advertising campaign!
Comment by on October 13, 05:59

The Alternative Delphi Roadmap (by Simon Kissel) 

Read this link for a radical strategy for Borland,
Win32 and .NET

 http://shortcircuited.wordpress.com/2006/10/08/borland-adapt-or-perish/
Comment by M [http://thinkersroom.com/blog] on October 13, 11:48

The Alternative Delphi Roadmap (by Simon Kissel) 

Eber: right now Borland failed to support .NET. MS 
easily outpaced them, because they control the 
platform totally.
They already lost customers to VS anyway. BTW, it 
happend with VC++ and C++ Builder about fifteen 
years ago. MS started to deploy new features and 
Borland was unable to catch up in time. They didn't 
learn.

To support .NET somehow, without the resources, 
using a "me too!" approach, and displeasing the 
current loyal base, they lost customers, and didn't 
get new ones. It's a lose-lose move to me.

Kylix was a mistake because of the Borland approach. 
It was stupid to try to sell Kylix to Linux 
developers. The GCC/vi guy was beyond their reach 
(it won't use only Intel servers), and the LAMP guy 
not interested. The right move would have been to 
sell Kylix to Windows developers to port their 
server products to Intel/Linux - maybe bundling it 
with the Windows version, and not selling it as a 
separate product.

I'm one of those who will buy a *working*, *fully 
interoperable* and *supported* Kylix. We already use 
a lot of Linux servers, and we'd like to port our 
server apps to Linux without rewriting them in C++.
Comment by Kent Morwath on October 13, 13:05

The Alternative Delphi Roadmap (by Simon Kissel) 

M: read my comment about that "radical" strategy. No 
one would buy a Delphi add-in for VS. Period.
Comment by Kent Morwath on October 13, 13:06

The Alternative Delphi Roadmap (by Simon Kissel) 

The post seems to suggest that DevCo can't do a better
job of .NET than Microsoft. Aren't we using Delphi
because we think they already make a better job of
doing the native API than Microsoft? I think the
abstraction of the VCL is the biggest advantage that
Delphi offers.

The future? Well, AFAIK the first Borland windowing
framework was OWL. The framework allowed folks to
migrate from DOS to Windows. Then Borland moved to
Delphi and the VCL was born. Perhaps it's time for a
new framework that's multi-platform and makes it easy
to do WIN32, WIN64, .NET and Linux? There are other
players here, but the success of Delphi was that one
company controlled the framework, the language, and
the development IDE. This allowed Borland to modify
whichever element of the tool chain was most
appropriate. This would still seem to be a unique
position.

However, is this a viable market? Most users don't
need a multi-platform tool? However, I think there is
a group of developers that would like to use a tool
that doesn't lock them to a particular platform, even
if they do end up only using a single platform. For
example, I liked the idea that my tool of choice
(Delphi) had an option to switch to Linux (Kylix) even
though I haven't actually done any Linux development.
So for me, Kylix added to the benefits of Delphi even
though I hadn't used that option. Similarly, knowing
that Delphi supports .NET is a good thing even though
I still target native Windows. Realistically, I doubt
I'd be interested in a tool that didn't target .NET.

The downside is that a multi-platform tool might take
a lowest common denominator approach that means it
isn't good enough for any particular platform;
obviously that's not going to work.

So, is it a viable market? I really don't know how the
size of that market can be determined, so I don't know.

Some other quick notes.

1. Won't most users use the .NET platform to move to
64bit, rather than the native API?

2. I'm not yet targetting .NET yet but I've been
giving serious consideration to moving to C#. Why?
Well, for new projects, I can't see any benefit to
Delphi. Does that mean I think Delphi should stop
supporting .NET - no, absolutely no! However, it means
that it needs to have a significant advantage. Is ECO
the advantage? - I don't know but it has the
potential. However, I do think it's inevitable that
I'll move new projects to .NET so I'll be looking for
a .NET tool.

3. Yep, I'm a non-upgrader; I'm still using Delphi 5.
It simply does what I need it to do and some of my
projects are still used on NT, so an older version
works fine. Also, my users are internal and I don't
need to keep up with the latest Windows look and feel.
When I do, that's probably when I'll make the switch
to .NET. It's also relevant that I'm also doing much
less development than I used to and the upgrade costs
became an approving problem. I like some of the new
IDE features but there's nothing I can't live without
and not enough to justify the cost of changing
(including the hassles of components, etc).
Comment by Bruce J Clark [] on October 13, 13:17

The Alternative Delphi Roadmap (by Simon Kissel) 

Bruce: 64 bit early adopters will be those looking for
raw power and large memory space. Those who see VMs,
p-code (even jitted one) and garbage collectors as
obstacles, not features. One day everybody will move
to 64bits, even database frontends and web pages...
Comment by Luigi D. Sandon on October 13, 15:14

The Alternative Delphi Roadmap (by Simon Kissel) 

I sort of agree to Simon’s article even if I find the 
analysis a bit light I have to say that unfortunately 
this is true for Borland. I know it's true because I, 
like many others, was part of the people loving 
Borland tools because of the spirit, the great 
community, the excellent components (free wit source 
in many cases)...

Now I to say that I was forced to live the Delphi 
world because my company switched to .net/C#
What was my surprise to see that visual studio.net 
became an excellent IDE comparing to VS6

I kept doing Delphi coding on my free time and 
starting from that moment I started to dislike Borland 
products. And I hate them now. Why is that you may 
ask? I worked on big projects in visual studio (about 
200 projects in my solution) and you could hardly make 
something crash! It was rock solid... Comparing to 
what was happening on the Delphi side: using Delphi 7 
in a medium sided product using projects and packages 
I had to restart the IDE several time a day...

Besides of all that, I could see big Delphi gurus 
leaving for C# or java because they could not stand 
the Borland tools any more.
Big components vendor started to get out of business.
The Borland newsgroups, Borland advocacy and TeamB 
started to get arrogant and didn't seem to care about 
people complaining about the quality of the products 
they loved. Borland itself got arrogant (the 
commercials at least). I can tell you a story about my 
contact in Borland. We switched to C#/VS but I was 
still interested in keeping an eye on Borland 
products. So I kindly asked my contact if he could 
keep me on the Delphi beta list and hand me some CDs 
when something came out... But no!!! He didn't want 
to... He (implicitly) said that because we where no 
longer paying customers he was not willing to loose 
some time with me... Even when I was his only chance 
for Borland to step in our company again some day.

It is so hard to be part of the beta program. Borland 
had it all wrong. When you could just download the 
entire visual studio beta that you wanted, for free! 
No wonder that because of the small number of people 
that tried the product before it went final that it 
was that crappy and buggy...

Ok, sorry, I could elaborate so much longer about how 
sorry I feel about what is happening to the Delphi 
product line... For me it's simply dead...

What could bring me back to Delphi is certainly more 
Simon's roadmap then devco's

What I want is "simple":
*change your attitude, open your mind and listen to 
your customers
*stop to run after what MS is doing, you always only 
come second like that
*find your own way. If I want to do .net 2.0 or .net 
3.0 stuff I will use visual studio (is there a chance 
you might wanna take a look at the prices or your 
products comparing to VS? What are the features you 
offer that are worth the price?)
*remove passwords from everywhere and offer beta 
products for everybody. You should have noticed that 
your tentative to look your customers in your world is 
a failure
*hire a real professional to draw your product icons 
and graphics. Admit that it's not a coder's work. Let 
him decide what the color palette should be. Ask him 
to take some time to redesign the various Borland 
sites, BDN and QA for example. Have you heard about a 
site called MSDN? Don't be ashamed to inspire from it 
(I won't tell any one). The point is that when I moved 
to the MS world I was so sorry for the people still in 
the Delphi world just because of the way the BDN site 
looked and let's not talk about its content. Most of 
the articles are poor (when you can call them 
articles) (sorry, I couldn’t resist)
*stop adding countless "new" products doing the same 
things. Focus on one line and make it rock solid. Fast 
to code and even faster to debug (have you tried to 
debug a project heavily using interfaces at the same 
time then packages? I nearly felt asleep last time I 
tried to hit F7...
*Stop adding language features to the Delphi language. 
They are more hacks then real OO... Ok, I would take 
the iterators in the win32 world
*smaller updates, more often updates

And now the concrete part, more objective...
I only have two big wishes...

*Give me a new kilyx version that is fully compatible 
with the current possibilities you find in the win32 
part of delphi2006 (except native features of course). 
CrossKilyx should be supported...let me port my 
windows application to linux. I don't care building 
linux specific apps (maybe later)

*about the .net part... All my projects are in Delphi 
win32 but I would like to start adding .net modules. 
So just let me use managed dll from a win32 host and 
also let me use a win32 dll from a managed host. 
Managed meaning Delphi.net but also C# and the like.
Delphi can already do it why not but there is only one 
small sample showing how it works. Publish it, talk 
about it, document it, give us samples and give us 
some tools to help us on that (import/export managed/
unmanaged components). Also make this happen for 
kilyx.

You heard about Chrome ? Hydra ?

http://www.remobjects.com
(Im not related to them, do I really need to say this
 ;)

Good luck DevCo...
ps: You will need more then luck...
Comment by jonx on October 20, 16:06

The Alternative Delphi Roadmap (by Simon Kissel) 

Jonk,
  I approved your post, even if with some doubts, as
there are many statements I deem false:
- "Restart the IDE several time a day" may be your
experience, but not of everyone. I hear the same
complaint for VS. Very subjective.
- "Big Delphi gurus leaving for C# or java because
they could not stand the Borland tools any more." Who?
They moved because they had good job opportunities,
many with Microsoft, not because they "hate" the
tools. I know many of them, I don't think you are
interpreting them correctly.
- "Big components vendor started to get out of
business." Also many .NET component vendors have
problems, and some who moved from VCL to .NET later
switched back... or kept devoting time to the VCL
again as it is still a good revenue stream.
- "It is so hard to be part of the beta program." Not
everyone has Microsoft resources. Is this looking for
betas of for free products? Get the Turbos!
- "Stop adding language features to the Delphi
language. They are more hacks then real OO". Should
they leave all new feature to C#? If
private-that-works, operators overloading, class data
are not OOP features, what are they?

I have to say I appreciate and agree with some of the
other points (Kylix, not running after Microsoft...).
Also, I agree on mixing managed and non-managed code.
Do you know Delphi has "managed exports" built into
the language? But you are right, should be a more
prominent feature!
Comment by Marco Cantù [http://www.marcocantu.com] on October 21, 01:30

The Alternative Delphi Roadmap (by Simon Kissel) 

The logic of Delphi was that it depended on nothing 
other than the product, as experienced by most 
users.  The primary logic of using Delphi is for the 
users.  

It was/is a way of communicating that allowed users 
to experience an application, allowing the developer 
full control of the user experience without a hidden 
layer of the OS.  In a way it was rebellion, that 
then led into Kylix, maybe a flawed business model, 
and less effective on Linux than Windows(Delphi).

Simon Kissel is correct in his analysis not just for 
the 'Roadmap' (economic reasons) but also because 
Delphi was an intellectually profoundly independent 
product.  It gave (gives) developers freedom to 
deliver/deploy apps that are unique in that they give 
the user the experience that the developer intended 
with no overhead.

Don't forget the user.  The beauty of Delphi is that 
the user believes that the app provides him/her with 
freedom. dotNet does not do necessarily do this for 
an average user.

As with many companies Borland is loosing its focus 
on the 'bottom end', arguably the most 
important 'end' of its market.
Comment by Angus Jack [http://www.bre.co.uk] on October 25, 16:53

The Alternative Delphi Roadmap (by Simon Kissel) 

I need fast and native RAD Delphi Win32/Win64 IDE 
with good unicode supprot. I do not need any ".NET" 
crap. I also need only command line Delphi compiler 
for Linux, but I can use free pascal for this target. 
So Borland please focus on native Win32/64 and throw 
away ".NET" and Linux.
Comment by Simon Bodrov on October 27, 11:18

The Alternative Delphi Roadmap by Simon Kissel 

 Here's a really stupid idea - have the
CodeGear/Borland team sponsor freepascal to do
bsd/linux development and stop fighting - keep fpc as
a separate compiler and make money through
Borland/Codegear consulting for Linux.

Keep sales of the windows IDE going.. but try and make
friends and not fight on the linux front.

Flamebait? Possibly. Study IBM and linux though.
Comment by L505 [http://z505.com] on July 25, 10:47

The Alternative Delphi Roadmap by Simon Kissel 

I love delphi, but I need to do program in other
platform too. 

I will keep Delphi for my Microsoft customer ( for now
) as one of my IDE beside the origin VS.

I will do Linux on someting else. 
There is a lot going on in this area too and I think
it's wrong to blame Delphi not to compete in this
area. It's their wright to be just 'Another Microsoft
Tools'.
Beside there is no standard gui / not as good as
Microsoft did in windows. So, the move will be so
difficult and money / time consuming. Face it. It's
just impossible.

But market is market, and my customer don't care about
that, they just want linux, so I have to made 
software on something else ( realbasic or maybe RIA )

I think Codegear should not put the Motto 'A new
organization 100% dedicated to the Developer Tools
Market'. It's just doesnt fit, maybe put a word
Microsoft will do. : 'A new organization 100%
dedicated to the Microsoft Developer Tools Market.'

Hmmm ...yes that's wright.

sweet dream.





Comment by dreamer on October 17, 06:26

The Alternative Delphi Roadmap by Simon Kissel 

Oh, forgot something.

Read Delphi road map has 'compile for another os
platform' ( afer commodore, last thing they will do ? ).

Should we wait for theme ....? Are they serious ?
Hearing from what they have said in various
discussion.... hmm I don't think so. 

CG should remove it from the road map if they don't
mean it. please don't make false promises to people.!
let them go guys, let them go. they also need to make
a living.

sweet dream.
Comment by dreamer on October 17, 06:40

The Alternative Delphi Roadmap by Simon Kissel 

I would have to say, that whatever parts of the
proposal are right or wrong, I would have to say that
he hit the nail on the head almost all of the way
through it.

I say that because as I'm reading it I'm thinking,
yeah, that is what I want. I mean really, price of
Kylix was bad, didn't want to author code under a
Linux GUI, and Borland always seemed to be late to the
table with the features that would make me buy.

Really to me there are largely two "factions" in the
Delphi software development world (that I have seen).
There are those that develop software for internal
use, and there are those that use it for products they
sell.

The internal users have less of a demand for Linux
desktop apps and more of a use for server-side
programs. The software vendors that develop generic
vertical or horizontal applications are more the ones
that want cross-compilation to other platforms. That
is natural as it immediately increases your audience.

RealBasic is a good example of what I want. From a
main menu of the application you simple select to
compile the application for Windows/Mac/Linux.

Does nobody at CodeGear take notice that
FPC/CrossKylix/Lazarus have grown so much. I mean,
really, keep in mind that the group of people that
will explore these options instead of just going over
to VS.Net or Java are devoted Pascal lovers.

CodeGear Execs can say what they like. History is
being written, and the consensus is that
Borland/Inprise/CodeGear has been dropping the ball
consistently since the Delphi 5-6 era. That not just
my opinion, I hear that in nearly every conversation I
have that approaches the Delphi/Borland subject.

Its always comments about how great the tools are/were
and how badly they were marketed/supported.

It makes me soo frustrated that the tools are awesome
but the company is single handedly destroying a great
legacy. Its like they just have closed meetings and
discuss direction without having a good understanding
of the users.

Marco, I don't know how you feel about it, but its my
opinion that CodeGear should take some SERIOUS time to
rethink their angle.

I would say you along with Simon Kissel, maybe Bob
Swart, Zarko Gajic, and a few others should be
consulted on a good direction for CodeGear and Delphi
in general. 

Server-side, I want cross platform with database
connections to MySQL/Postgres, and ability to natively
compile Apache modules.

On the desktop side of things, I want to be able to
compile for as many platforms as they can fit under
the hood, including .Net, and I want to do it with a
unified VCL environment. 

Thats it.

Right now I work in a $7B Fortune 1000 company that
has been forced through the various "We're selling our
code tools" announcement to migrate everything in
Delphi to Java within 2 years. Execs, Directors, and
PMs all the way up the chain want to dump CodeGear
tools because of massive fear of a soon to be
discontinued product.

Surely someone in CodeGear is willing to listen to
something other than the sound of their own voices?

Marco, I'm interested to hear what your perspective is
on why CodeGear is on such a downhill slide?

Thanks for your many years of great (and the best)
books on Mastering Delphi, they have truly been my
tutor for all-things Delphi.


Comment by Angus McGinnis [http://www.surevital.com] on January 11, 02:54


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