Feeds

Ex-Borland's Delphi owner re-ignites cross-platform dream

Linux and Mac not ripe in 2001

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

Embarcadero Technologies, having itself been been bought by private capital in 2006, acquired Borland Software's CodeGear division just over a year ago.

CodeGear's developer products include Delphi, a RAD tool that creates native code Windows executables, and the JBuilder Java IDE now based on Eclipse.

These products have an illustrious past, but the deal had a strange smell to it: Borland had been looking to offload CodeGear for some time while database tools company Embarcadero brought a hint of the classic "yeah, we can make this work" VC attitude to the table.

So where are products now, and what's in their future?

Delphi is rolling on with a new release code-named Weaver that supports Windows 7 and a touch API in preparation for Microsoft's next operating system, but can it compete with Visual Studio? "We don't compete with Visual Studio, Visual Studio is a .NET IDE," chief executive Wayne Williams told me in an interview, dismissing Microsoft C++ as "not their focus."

Embarcadero is now betting on cross-platform for Delphi and its partner C++ Builder, which shares many of the same libraries. "The most important thing is native cross-platform, Mac and Linux. Some of our biggest customers have moved completely to Mac. Internationally we don't hear as much Mac interest, but Linux is really strong," Williams said.

Wasn't this tried before, at least on Linux, with a 2001 product called Kylix, which nobody bought?

"Two big differences," according to Williams, at least. "First, that wasn't a cross-compile approach. People are fine developing on Windows. I need to be able to debug against a remote machine, but I don't need the whole IDE over there. The other difference [is] they were too early as far as Linux goes, and from a visual standpoint now Mac matters. I've never been so sure about an opportunity."

Williams says cross-platform is now a higher priority than a 64-bit compiler, though both are planned, and that we will see the first cross-platform release next year.

Microsoft's commitment to .NET has left a niche for Delphi, but what about JBuilder? In the thoroughly commoditised Java tools market, does it make sense for Embarcadero to persevere?

"That whole market was disrupted by IBM's approach with Eclipse, which to me is nothing to do with open source," says Williams. "IBM bought OTI and wrote it off. In fact, Eclipse is slowing dramatically as IBM pulls its investment back."

"They're lopping heads out of Eclipse all the time, and it shows. They can't even get localization handled, we've been waiting years for localization. IBM pulled it. I think the shine has come off Eclipse, but the disruption that that acquisition and that write-off caused is still there and it's going to be there for quite some time.

"On its own, I would not be able to make a business case that we should go out and build a Java business. But we already have one, and All Access is a tool chest and Java's an important piece of that," Williams said.

All Access is actually two things: a subscription deal akin to Microsoft's MSDN, and a technology for no-touch deployment called InstantOn.

The latter is the more interesting aspect. Using application virtualization - which Williams says is "the worst name on the planet as it has nothing to do with virtualization" - InstantOn lets you run any of Embarcadero's tools from a USB stick or server without installing it locally and without elevated user permissions. Even the JVM and .NET runtime works, solving versioning as well as deployment issues.

But is Eclipse really slowing, as Williams claimed? I asked Eclipse executive director Mike Milinkovich. "There's no metric which indicates Eclipse is slowing," he says, though he agrees that there is "some amount of decrease" in the staff IBM has working on the project.

"Most people view the Eclipse project as largely stable and mature, so you're not going to get the same amount of investment," he added. " There's more investment leveraging the platform than there is in the platform itself... Key guys that worked on Eclipse like John Wiegand [IBM Rational chief architect] and Erich Gamma [co-author of Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software and the JUnit testing framework] are now working on Jazz".

Milinkovich conceded IBM is still far and away the largest contributor to Eclipse. The computing giant has more than 120 active committers, and so far in just 2009 they've contributed more than 10 million lines of code. "Our goal is to increase the diversity on the Eclipse platform, and that's happening. I can't fault IBM for any of their action," Milinkovich said. ®

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

More from The Register

next story
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer
Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.