Embarcadero unveils big plans for Delphi

Former Borland technology will get cross-platform, 64-bit capabilities to run apps on Mac OS X and, eventually, Linux

Delphi, the Object Pascal-based development language and framework that Embarcadero Technologies inherited from former Borland subsidiary CodeGear, is poised to get cross-platform and 64-bit capabilities in 2011.

Embarcadero, which acquired CodeGear in 2008, is set to extend Delphi beyond its roots as a language for building 32-bit Windows applications. Developers will be able to leverage 64-bit systems and run applications on Mac OS X and, later on, Linux and other platforms. Company officials discussed plans for Delphi at the Delphi Live conference in San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, stressing the new technologies would be released in 2011 only if they are ready by then.

[ Also at the conference, Embarcadero touted its RAD Studio XE technologies. | Keep up with app dev issues and trends with InfoWorld's Fatal Exception blog and Developer World newsletter. ]

Cross-platform support means developers can use their Delphi skills for other platforms, beginning with Mac OS. "We're not building Mac deployment capabilities for Mac developers. Our customers are all Windows developers," said Michael Swindell, senior vice president of marketing and product management for Embarcadero and a holdover from Borland.

Developers would be able to build native Windows applications, then have them compiled for the other platforms.

The addition of 64-bit capabilities recognizes a need to address more than 4GB of memory space, Swindell said.

"[Customers] want to start planning for 64-bit," he said.

In use by 1.7 million developers and other persons, Delphi has offered rapid application development capabilities, database connectivity, and a host of prebuilt application components for purposes ranging from data connectors to bar-code scanning.

"There's tens of thousands of prebuilt components available for Delphi," Swindell said. Delphi has been popular with ISVs building packaged software, he said.

A Delphi developer at the conference welcomed Embarcadero's cross-platform efforts.

"I'm definitely excited about having the capability [to run on] Linux since we do have some Red Hat systems," said Joseph Trapani, programmer analyst for Rockwell Collins. He lauded Delphi's rapid application development capabilities.

In addition, Embarcadero plans to enable Delphi systems to take advantage of input technologies such as biometrics and speech input. Later this year, the company also anticipates introducing starter kits to entice neophyte developers to the company's Delphi and C++ technologies.

Delphi applications are natively compiled to Windows; the Delphi Prism variant takes advantage of Microsoft's .Net managed code platform. While native compilation can offer better performance, managed code can offer a safer environment because developers have less access to the underlying hardware, Swindell said.

Delphi Prism applications can get 64-bit capabilities from .Net, Swindell said. ISVs wanting higher performance, however, might prefer the native Delphi development option, Swindell explained.

Delphi Prism also can put applications on MacOS and Linux via Novell's Mono technology.

This article, "Embarcadero unveils big plans for Delphi," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in business technology news and get a digest of the key stories each day in the InfoWorld Daily newsletter.

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