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!