DeXtrous Delphi with DavidI
Borland roadmap explained
Borland is famous for confusing its loyal fans; well, it sometimes confuses us. So, we asked David Intersimone and Jason Vokes to guide us through its roadmap, with particular reference to Delphi.
Delphi was originally a very strong competitor for Microsoft's Visual Basic Rapid Application Development (RAD) environment. David Intersimone (VP of Developer Relations at Borland) is usually known as DavidI and has been Borland's developer's mentor and friend for years. Jason Vokes is European product line manager for Borland's RAD products. Together, they were extremely positive about Delphi's future, starting with Delphi 2006, codenamed DeXter. However, Delphi, as a separate purchase is on the way out – next year, you'll buy Borland Developer Studio and download the language you want, and one of the options will be Delphi (others will be C# and C++).
There are now two Borland developer streams, DavidI explains. One is for small teams and individual programmers, built on Borland Developer Studio (BDS) and is where Delphi 2006 lives now. It apparently has a "long future". It's available for Win32 and .NET 1.1 this year, and for .Net 2.0 and Compact Framework next year. 64-bit support is also promised next year (C# has it already) and in another two years, we'll get native 64-bit Delphi (and C++) for Windows 64.
DavdI sees abstraction as key to moving developers into the 64-bit world. "Things like VCL [Visual Component Library] and database layers hide the details of 64-bit Windows programming," he says, "so we've put VCL on C++ and Delphi 32, and now on .Net. Next year we'll put it on compact framework and .Net 2.0. When Windows Vista Avalon comes out, we'll have VCL for Avalon and 64bit VCL for Windows 64."
Borland's other development stream is Core SDP, built on ECLIPSE. This is for multi-language, multi-platform enterprise development environments starting with teams of about 20 people (it's really aimed at much larger, distributed, teams), where people start differentiating themselves into development roles such as: Analyst, Architect, Developer, Tester.
In a small team people take on multiple roles and individual developers just dabble in UML modelling, and the BDS environment, with Delphi, C++ Builder and C# Builder, is appropriate. Nevertheless, Delphi extends its reach now with plug-ins for CaliberRM requirements management etc because, says DavidI, "at some stage you need true enterprise computing, multiple languages across multiple back-ends". So, BDS starts with products focused on coding, and just a little change management and modelling. It also includes (for example) a Star Team server with a license that can be added to, ending up with a comprehensive software change and configuration management tool supporting large, geographically distributed, development teams – when, or if, you need it.