DeXtrous Delphi with DavidI
Borland roadmap explained
Looking out beyond this, DavidI and Jason are still enthusiastic about Model Driven Development (in the form of the OMG's MDA). Delphi 2006 supports reverse engineering, rapid prototyping, and advanced IDE integration with UML modelling, requirements management, version control, bug tracking, and team collaboration. Jason doesn't see this as purely for big, enterprise, players: "Small organisations can better sell their services if they can prove their ability to deliver quality systems and frameworks" and models help them communicate better with the business.
This is a real issue today. We've met developer/consultants with an exemplary record of delivering working software who were sacked because after they'd helped make their organisation successful, its management then felt that a big system integrator (SI) would be more appropriate to their organisation's new status. And will the big SI deliver as reliably or cheaply? Borland promises to help the small developer demonstrate his/her capability to deliver, although that may not be enough, for some managers. According to Jason, this involves providing ways of saying (but perhaps not in the one sentence), "this is systematically the level of quality I have delivered, this is the resource that I've provided that's been vital to running your business over this period of time and here is why it's a valid resource and here is how it can be improved for less money than it would cost you anywhere else..."
DavidI claims that this is very much in the spirit of Borland's enterprise-oriented Together round-trip engineering tools (Delphi 2006 integrates with Borland's Together modelling). These let you start with code if you don't like modelling, or start with modelling, and end up in the same place (although we doubt that the thought processes of a modeller are ever quite the same as those of a coder). "Even if you only live in code, you can reverse engineer a database into an object model, generate some documentation, iterate between code and model views of, essentially, the same thing", DavidI says, also touching on Borland's ECO object-relational mapping and object persistence technology (which is available in Delphi 2006).
Nevertheless, although Borland is obviously thinking of model-driven futures and 64-bit computing, it still seems to be aware of development realities today. "It's interesting," DavidI says, "there are still customers in parts of the world on 16-bit Windows, and there are 8-bit DOS embedded systems, and for us, being in the developer tools business, we have to support these constituencies". There is no substitute for experience: "I remember the days when we moved from Turbo Pascal for DOS to Turbo Pascal for Windows," he continues, "and I said to Phillippe [Kahn], 'we're going to sell 100 thousand of these Turbo Pascal for Window 1.0 boxes in the first month everybody's going to go for this, it's got objects, it's got graphics, it's wonderful', and Phillippe just looked at me like I was nuts because he knew the inertia out there for people moving, even if it's just, basically, a recompile... I was surprised, but people simply hold off from changing working systems in local pharmacies, squash clubs etc."