August 21, 2012

JT on Delphi XE3 and Beyond

Delphi Product Manager JT has posted a very significant update of the current "mobile plans" for Delphi.

Delphi Product Manager John Thomas (better known as JT) has posted a very significant update of the current "mobile plans" for Delphi. You can read it online at  http://blogs.embarcadero.com/jtembarcadero/2012/08/20/xe3-and-beyond/ . The announcement is very significant, and it is worth dissecting it and commenting on it.

The core idea of the article is that there will be a focused, specific, and complete Delphi mobile development solution for both iOS and Android. But that won't be part of the coming XE3 release. Let me first focus on the stated goals of this project, according to JT:

  • "A brand new set of technologies and products that bring Delphi and FireMonkey to mobile"
  • "Will be the first and only native development solution for both iOS and Android that share a common codebase"
  • "Mobile specific features include native iOS and Android UIs with pixel-perfect native looking controls and behavior"
  • "A service framework for hardware sensors, such as GPS, accelerometers, gyros, and cameras, and OS services such as location, advertising, and in-app payments"

The overall goal is not small, but "a revolutionary solution", to #34e JT again. But given there isn't currently anything similar on the market, with each vendor focused on its own platform (Google, Apple, Microsoft) there is certainly a very interesting opportunity here for Embarcadero with Delphi (and C++Builder alike). The announcement bring over also a few technical elements, hidden among the "marketing jargon":

  • "A new Delphi toolchain (frontend, backend, linker, debugger, run-time library, etc.)."
  • "New Delphi mobile backend is designed to create highly optimized ARMv7 binaries"
  • ""The Delphi language is being enhanced by adding memory management features such as automatic reference counting"
  • "A mobile targeted version of the FireMonkey framework and RTL "

This is quite a lot, although some of the elements have already been mentioned here and there, like the interest in ARC (automatic reference counting, the model used by Apple's ObjectiveC).

For all those always happy to criticize, yes, it seems there will be close to nothing in XE3 in terms of mobile support. Actually it is quite clean from JT words that there isn't even what was in XE2 (still, if you buy XE3 and skipped XE2 you'll get that included with your license, as it has become standard over the last few versions of Delphi). We'll have to wait for the first stop of the World Tour (today in Germany!) before really knowing what's in the XE3 product, as JT mostly told us what won't be in it but it planned for a later time.

Too bad no timing is given for this mobile solution, which seems to be an add-in to XE3 ( Access to mobile beta requires an active XE3 Professional Edition or higher ). We'll have to wait to see how XE3 and this mobile framework evolve and whether existing and new users will jump on them or not. Let us Delphi fans keep our fingers crossed, hoping Embarcadero delivers what they are promising. Which is really a lot!





 

10 Comments

JT on Delphi XE3 and Beyond 

I'm pretty sure this will be another step to nowhere,
cause any new platform needs people developing with
it. if we are now only a few that keep working with
Delphi, my feeling is that this new framework will not
be able to get enough amount of users to keep it alive
(no matter how amazing it will be). 

I think it is a little late for this tremendous (and
exciting) task.

I honestly think that Embarcadero has to take their
chance and try. Maybe I'm feeling low today or maybe
the last ten years perspective. 

Thanks Marco.

Comment by Jackoman [http://www.jackoman.es] on August 21, 11:46

JT on Delphi XE3 and Beyond 

Wow. To me, this reads as "forget about XE3, XE4 is the 
tool you are waiting for." 
Comment by Leonardo Herrera on August 21, 14:14

JT on Delphi XE3 and Beyond 

Regarding availability - of course when it is ready.  
Everyone that upgrades to or purchases XE3 will be 
invited to an exclusive early beta test.

Several great things about our mobile plans:

1) one code base to develop iOS and Android 
applications
2) one tool chain
3) one framework that supports the specifics of each 
platform's hardware and software services and sensors
4) you can integrate the mobile support into a RAD 
Studio XE3 IDE and build desktop and mobile 
applications
5) you can have a development environment and tool 
chain for mobile without ever having to build desktop 
apps

Regarding the wonderment or fear about being too late 
to the mobile development space - the industry is just 
getting started with devices and tablets.  More is 
happening and will continue to happen for decades to 
come.

With our solutions for desktop, mobile and enterprise 
you have one codebase to develop for all.
Comment by David Intersimone "David I" [http://blogs.embarcadero.com/davidi/] on August 21, 15:05

JT on Delphi XE3 and Beyond 

Delphi has lasted a lot longer than most and languages 
have fragmented again given there are so many to choose 
from these days. While Delphi is currently at the back 
of the pack, no reason to believe a decent IDE that 
could produce iOS, Android and Win8 apps wouldn't be 
welcome. Their ability to deliver is somewhat 
questionable but for now I am going to give them the 
benefit of the doubt.
Comment by Cameron on August 21, 15:52

JT on Delphi XE3 and Beyond 

Is that not apologetic of the Product Manager who has
to talk about what is coming in XE4 at the time of
releasing XE3? He is just giving a positive spin on
what is missing in XE3.
Comment by Karu Kaarigar [] on August 23, 05:15

JT on Delphi XE3 and Beyond 

Is XE3 another sleeper product that I will have to hit
the snooze button on.  I was counting on some level of
Linux support and some type of  support for Android. 
Now I see that even Android is not ready. and you have
to purchase XE3 to be able to access to beta for
Android (possibly).  I think that the VC mindset of
under delivery is going to cause me to not purchase
this product either.  Show me the software!!!  Do I
need to wait for XE4?
Comment by Al Nickels on August 27, 13:41

JT on Delphi XE3 and Beyond 

"Will be the first and only native development solution for both iOS 
and Android that share a common codebase"

Simply not true, there are already cross mobile tools that allow you to 
target both iOS and Android. They typically use Lua but they do 
deliver on the cross platform promise:

Corona SDK
Gideros Mobile
Moai SDK

Plus all the mobile frameworks which you can turn into native apps 
using appcelerator or phonegap and there is no real killer feature.

I'm quite interested in how good the HTML5 support is in XE3.

Gary 
Comment by Gary Kind on September 3, 21:11

JT on Delphi XE3 and Beyond 

 "Mobile specific features include native iOS and
Android UIs with pixel-perfect native looking controls
and behavior"  

Which means that once either iOS or Android changes
their controls by a pixel in a future release, the app
will no longer be "pixel-perfect". It'll stay at the
old look until 1. Emba updates and then 2. the
developer updates. And if there are devices with
different OS versions out there, you'll never be
"pixel-perfect" on all at them at once - since they
are "native looking controls", not "native controls". 

At least it's nice that they publish this a year
ahead. This means we can fully concentrate on other
solutions and have no further excuse to wait for XE4 :)
Comment by CCRDude [http://ccrdu.de.] on September 10, 12:28

JT on Delphi XE3 and Beyond 

It seems Emba doesn't want to listen what we Delphi 
developers say: this native-one-for-all thing its not 
gonna help until they understand this simple concept: 
every product needs documentation/books/tutorials done 
by creator of that product. It doesn't matter if you 
make the best multi-platform dev tool (which I doubt 
it), someone should know how to use your products from 
some resources. At the moment, how many young developers 
knows about XE2, XE3, XE4 or ... ?

My current problem after more than 15 years of using 
Delphi is how to find my next contract job, I really 
don't care any more how EMBA is going to sell their next 
products to the few Delphi developers left, 
unfortunately including me.
Comment by Sam on December 20, 05:53

JT on Delphi XE3 and Beyond 

Anders Hejlsberg & Borland, please come back !
Comment by Nostalgic for the old days on February 5, 10:03


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