A First Look at Delphi 2005

Delphi has been always a very capable product. From Delphi 1 to Delphi 2005 we witnessed 10 years of RAD compiler releases that truly changed the landscape of Software Development for millions of developers. Even those who did not use Delphi found their tools influenced one way or another by this remarkable product.

Unfortunately, I was not very fond of Delphi 8. With all due respect to my friends and colleagues at Borland, it was behind, for the first time, the equivalent Microsoft technology. In particular, it was not as good as Visual Studio.NET 2003. Delphi 8 had serious problems with its ASP.NET implementation and in the IDE features it provided.

I have been using Visual Studio 2003 and 2005 for most of my work this year. My customers pay me a lot of money to help them make the right decisions regarding software development and the choice of the development tool they use. I could not choose Delphi 8 just because of a sentimental attachment.

Delphi 8 for me was not satisfactory. I found its support for ASP.NET applications was weak, and I found the VS IDE a lot richer and more powerful. Of course, the VS IDE is not perfect, but it was clearly better than Delphi 8.

I knew that Borland could not allow the next version of Delphi to be a flop. It could not be a “me too“ version, it had to be an “Oh yes, we can do that and then some” version.

BorCon 2004

At BorCon 2004 in San Jose, CA, the Delphi team made everyone feel really good at the “Meet the Team“ event. They showed a number of great demos and made everyone feel that they had an excellent development tool on its way for all developers, whether they use .NET or Win32.

I remember attending Microsoft’s .NET events in 2001 and 2002 and watching incredulously as hundreds of people’s jaws would drop with a collective “WOW“ as the MS product team members demonstrated features Delphi has had since 1995. Looking around the room I wanted to shout, “Yes, it is called Delphi, it has been doing that since Bill Gates was in high school!”

The Shipping Version of Delphi 2005

I just received the shipping version of Delphi 2005 Architect and I installed it right away. I will be playing with Delphi 2005 for the next few weeks. I have to admit, I have missed using the product over the last year!

When I got my hands on the shipping version of Delphi 2005, I dug into it with considerable interest. A lot was at stake with this release, and I was anxious to see how it would turn out. In the next two sections of this article I will give you my preliminary report on what I have found so far.

Delphi 2005: The Good Stuff

  • The ECO stuff just amazes me! It is a technology that I believe everyone should spend time exploring. Over the next few weeks and months I will provide some articles and maybe some Free Videos here on Codefez that demonstrate the power of this interesting technology.
  • The compilation of Win32 and .NET applications in the same IDE is wonderful. Delphi 2005 is the only development tool providing this capability as of today.
  • The refactoring tools are awesome.
  • The ASP.NET Deployment Manager appears to be pretty cool.
  • Being able to develop in Delphi and C# in the same IDE (same solution even) is very nice.

All of these features are significant and represent important steps forward for Delphi. The team should be proud of their work in these areas.

Delphi 2005: The Not So Good Stuff

But not all the news about Delphi 2005 is good. Here are a few of the problems I noticed in my preliminary examination of the product.

  • The installation took a long time to finish (~35 minutes not including the Uninstall which takes almost 1 hour) on my P4 3.2 with 1 Gig RAM.
  • After installation, the Delphi IDE took 2 minutes and 45 seconds to load.
  • I have XP SP2 installed. Upon loading Delphi 2005 for the first time, I received the warning Dialog below when trying to open an HTML file.

I created a default Win32 VCL application. It took 1 minute to load and the main form flashed 3 times. I expected it to load quicker; loading the IDE itself took such a long time I thought it was pre-caching these kinds of things.

  • In the toolbox I filtered on “b“ to get a list of all components that start with that letter. From the resulting set of controls, I dragged a TButton and dropped it on the VCL form. This action created 2 buttons on the Form instead of 1. This behavior occurs only when the toolbox is filtered. Unfortunately, I prefer to work with filtered lists.
  • The most annoying problem I think was the warning message I got every time I placed a “.” after an object name to bring up code insight. When I did this, a dialog like the one below showed up.

For information on a couple of these problems please read Allen Bauer’s comments on what happened and why at http://blogs.borland.com/abauer/archive/2004/11/04/1754.aspx

I have not yet done an extensive examination of Delphi 2005. But as you can see, so far I have found some very good things, and some things that are not so good. I expect to have several articles about my findings here in the next few weeks. I am particularly interested in the following areas which I will report on: ASP.NET, .NET Remoting, Component Design, Component usage, ECO and WebServices.

So expect me to be publishing a fair review of each one of these areas very shortly. Till next time, have fun!

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