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CodeGear Delphi 2007 Review

First, lets dig for a bit of history.

Background

Back in late 1980’s, I was working with several programming languages. Those were GWBasic, C and Turbo Pascal. I witnessed the evolution of these languages over the time.

GWBasic became QuickBasic, QuickBasic became Visual Basic for DOS, Visual Basic became a Windows tool, and now it is one of the major languages inside .NET. I always liked Basic in general, but the lack of good design and speed made me search for other languages.

Pascal evolved a bit differently. I met this wonderful language with the release of Turbo Pascal 3.0. Its clear, powerful language and ease of usage really hooked me up. Pascal always provided strong features, and kept it simple. I could play with CPU registers, write TSR (Terminate and Stay Resident) programs, add inline assembly instructions, access memory locations and vice versa with ease. In those days, afaik only 3 languages had those features: Assembly, C and Pascal. Although QuickBasic had some of these features, it was certainly limited.

With the release of Turbo Pascal 5.5, Borland added OOP (Object Oriented Programming) extensions to Pascal, called Turbo Vision. Borland later released Turbo Pascal 6.0 and Borland Pascal 7, with the ability of writing Windows programs. They were the best Pascal compiler for DOS and Windows those days. People loved it, and thousands of programs are created with it. Its Turbo Vision, which will be base for VCL in the future, is enhanced greatly in this version.

Visual Programming Era

At 1991, Microsoft released Visual Basic. It was the easiest language for developing Windows programs. It went 4 versions with a great community. I used every version until Visual Basic version 5.0.

Launch of Delphi

When Delphi 1 is released in 1995, most of Windows programs were being written by either Visual Basic or Visual C++ compilers. Delphi quickly gained a huge fanbase because of its quality and features: OOP. Database connectivity, SQL Links, Expandability via VCL, clear and detailed help system and much more. These features gave Delphi users unlimited possibilities. People are addicted to Delphi, including myself. I still think that, even Delphi 1 is far superior from all Visual Basic versions.

Every Delphi release after that had superior features compared to other products. Borland was leading innovation at programming tools sector. Delphi was shining with its brightness all over the place, until, well.. .NET.

The Fall

And the bad days started. Microsoft announced .NET framework. Borland released Delphi 8 with .NET support. Unfortunately, the product was not usable. The bugs and overall quality of product prevented its success. This failure had lots of reasons, but the main reason was Borland, which gave most of its resources to ALM (Application Lifecycle Management) business. Some of Delphi users called it as “Avoid Losing Money” strategy of Borland.

The brightness of Delphi has gone forever. Following the release of Delphi 8, Delphi 2005 and Delphi 2006 are released. Delphi 2006 was a bit stable, but the fanbase are pissed about the previous releases, and it is not welcomed into community. Also, most of the Delphi programmers switched to Visual Studio bandwagon between Delphi 7 and Delphi 2006, so instead of trying to code under a buggy platform, they choose their way.

After several failures, Robert Coates tried to buy Delphi from Borland. Borland’s response was interesting:

“Delphi is an important part of our success, and it is not available for sale.”

More interestingly, after 6 months, Borland announced the developer tools section are now available for sale. After several months of no progress, Borland decided to seperate its developer tools section as a new company. Community was a bit skeptical about this new company, because of the previous broken promises and unstable products. Anyway, this new company made lots of new promises to community, and raised hopes for future of Delphi.

CodeGear Factor

I’m following this new developer company (DevCo) since the beginning. The organization of the company, its interaction with community was really worth the attention. Personally, I made lots of responses to blog posts. I admit that, most of them was negative, because I was passionate about Delphi, like most Delphi developers. CodeGear started by redesigning their site. Almost every CodeGear employee created a blog at CodeGear blogs. They’re making everyone aware of developments in their products. These are some very really good steps to gain some attention.

They indicated their reason of existence with,

“Where developers matter, really.”

We Delphi developers felt in dark for a long time, but this was a good start. Did they achieve what they said?

Honestly, I was a bit skeptical about the release of this version. I followed almost every discussion about feature set and overall roadmap of Delphi 2007. Although it is based on .NET, they promised quality and speed everywhere.

Now, let’s examine the results.

Delphi 2007

And here it is, CodeGear’s last gem: Delphi 2007.

1. Installation (10/10)

It was the most painless Delphi install I ever had. Just run it, everything installs automatically. Although I still can’t stand crap like .NET and J# SDK with my precious Delphi IDE, they are installed automatically without user interaction. Of course, you may select only the features you want while going next steps. I must also indicate that, overall design of installer rocks. We have missed the Athena for a long time now, and an art design including her pretty face on Delphi installer was priceless. I already liked the progress indicator on the setup screen. (Sources, anyone? :P)

This new installer certainly deserves a shiny 10 out of 10.

2. Startup (8/10)

The splash screen of Delphi 2007 is one of the best Delphi splash screens I have ever seen. I must also say that previous two versions of splash screens (Delphi 2005 and 2006) were really badly designed. Speed of starting Delphi 2007 and waiting for IDE to appear takes some time though (it was 17 seconds for me, where Delphi 7 starts only in 5 seconds). Of course, loading time can be shortened by reducing amount of packages and the features which IDE loads. But the default time required was really adequate for a rich development environment like Delphi 2007.

I give it a 8 out of 10.

3. Feature Set (8/10)

Delphi 2007 has everything to get you started, if you are a newcomer. If you are an expert, there are lots of new features to get your coding experience at another level. Automatic variable declaration for example, declare any variable in anywhere in the code space, and it automatically places the variable at the correct space. Although it would be good to see general variables that function has in some seperate section at IDE, this is really a good feature, which makes coding a breeze.

Here are some of the best features of code editor:

Block Completion
Delphi 2007 Block Completion

Live Templates
Delphi 2007 Live Templates

Sync Edit
Delphi 2007 Sync Edit

Overal, I give a 8 out of 10, and believe me, most of this 8 comes from code editor. Unfortunately, an IDE does not come with only an code editor.

4. Stability (7/10)

Actually, I really liked the overall stability of Delphi 2007. But there are still lots of annoying bugs. For example, create a new package, try to save it without an extension (trusting file type is already selected below at combo box), and you get an access violation. I got some really interesting errors while trying to do standard things. I hope these errors are resolved in the update package, but a “complete” product should not have these bugs.

Overall, I was satisfied, but it needs more work. 7 out of 10.

5. Responsiveness (5/10)

My eyes looked for responsiveness which came with Delphi 7. I can say that Delphi 2007 is a lot faster compared to previous .NET based Delphi IDE’s, but it is still behind good old Delphi 7 in terms of responsiveness. Creating a new application, a package, option windows, everything is a bit slow. We should thank Microsoft for creating a bloated framework for programming. I can’t blame them, because actually they are good at creating bloatware. But making an IDE which is based on .NET without some benchmark which compares native code vs .NET is plain wrong. An IDE should be fast, as we are already spending hours debugging and coding.

Help system is really good, first time execution is really slow. Also, sometimes it gives weird errors when it can’t find the requested topics. The guys at CodeGear made good improvements to help system, but it still needs work. My eyes want to see lightning speed help system like Delphi 7’s.

End result: 5 out of 10. It’s faster, but not fast enough for a development environment.

6. Look & Feel (7/10)

An IDE must be clean, minimalistic, and simple. These were the rules for a successful IDE. The irony is, Borland taught these to us, while Microsoft was producing complex-looking IDE’s. If you’re to gain some newcomers, the IDE should welcome starters. Delphi 2007’s IDE scares lots of people. Lots of helper windows are turned on by default, which gives a complex feeling.

What was in the IDE at previous Delphi releases? (Defaults)

– A form window.
– A floating code editor in the background. (This was also giving us the opportunity to write code while looking over component names on the form with mouse)
– Main menu with integrated component palette.
– Object Inspector
– Structure View.

Now let’s look at Delphi 2007 (Defaults):

– A huge fullscreen window
– Menu window
– Object Inspector
– Structure View
– Project Manager (with Model Viewer and Data Explorer tabs – Seriously, what is the point of having a model viewer if my project is not based on models? Or a Data Explorer if my project doesn’t require a database?)
– Component Palette in a separated window.

I suppose you got my point. Delphi 2007, like previous .NET based IDE’s, lacks the simplicity and overall feel of a good IDE design.

I gave it a 7, out of 10.

7. Conclusion (7.5/10)

Delphi 2007 is the best product in .NET based IDE line so far. If the guys at CodeGear keep going this way, it will be the best developer tool in the world again. Although not a “must buy” release, it is really promising for the return of Delphi.

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  1. June 12, 2007 at 7:23 am

    Nice writeup. Seems very fair.

  2. June 13, 2007 at 5:10 am

    Great write-up. I think your review is deep, fair and balanced.

  3. June 13, 2007 at 5:12 am

    Sorry for the double (now triple) post, I’m not sure what happened I think I got caught in the Session Saver FF addin and double posted. My bad.

  4. Excessive
    June 13, 2007 at 8:24 am

    Hey, thank you very much for your comments.
    Don’t mind the post count πŸ™‚

  5. Javier
    June 21, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    Thanks for post. great work

  6. Zaimuddin H
    July 12, 2007 at 5:17 pm

    “The splash screen of Delphi 2007 is one of the best Delphi splash screens I have ever seen”

    Whoops, update your D2007 with Update 1, then install a few packages that stamped their names on the Delphi splash screen when they loaded (like JCL and JVCL, DDevExtensions, CnPack Wizards, ModelMaker addins, Castalia and so on, you get the trial version) and let’s see CODE GEAR name (in red) being stretched.

  7. Excessive
    July 19, 2007 at 11:23 am

    Friend, I didn’t say it’s bug-free. It is beautiful with its default settings, and I just indicated my feelings on that line.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  8. vinay
    July 31, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    a beautiful discription… i got wat i wanted ..

    thanks a lot…
    vinay

  9. August 6, 2007 at 11:16 am

    Nice review,

    but I want to add that Delphi IDE isn’t .Net based IDE, it’s still win32 IDE, but some new featuers require the .Net like refactoring and Together support

  10. Excessive
    August 6, 2007 at 7:31 pm

    Thanks for correction. This mess is going to hell forever, since the next version of Delphi drops .NET dependency πŸ™‚

  11. Alan
    August 28, 2007 at 4:09 pm

    I remember commenting on Borland’s bad direction when they first proposed Delphi 8 and all the nay sayers said win32 was dead and .net was going to takeover. Kind of a ‘either with us or against us’ attitude. I couldn’t believe the stupidity of it all, of course the clique news group community that kissed Borland’s arse thought the same and you weren’t welcome there unless you had .net running in your veins it seemed.
    Well it looks like Borland eventually shot themselves in the foot and this review doesn’t exactly show D 2007 as being enough of a carrot to draw the once loyal crowd back.
    I don’t know how the software price can be justified when it appears to be so slow and buggy. I always preferred D5 over 6 and 7, it’s still the fastest and most stable version they made.
    Maybe Codegear could do well to listen to their prospective buyers by not doing as Borland did in telling their user’s how they should develop and actually stick with what the user wants. Lesson learned? May be too little too late.
    Cheers

  12. WannabeLinuxFan
    September 28, 2007 at 10:43 am

    Yes, agree. Even D7 had issues. D5 is indeed the best release.

    I have D 2007 but weird things like variables highlighted as not defined (they are) and lack of intelligent auto-indenting (compared to where Microsoft is today) makes the additions to me a “nice-but-not-quite-caught-up-yet” experience.

    The ever-larger executable size also nullifies the rationale for using Delphi 2007 (compared to D5 – which already was quite big), so perhaps the classes need splitting up.

    I also find stuff that worked in D5 (specifically: turning code optimization off) now works differently or not at all.

    Also, some courage will be needed to do things like allowing in-code variable declaration as in C-syntax. Yes, I know the philosophical arguments behind Var, Const and Type sections, but we are all adults now and should be allowed to take responsibility for our own programming style decisions.

  13. ROBIN ROCAMORA
    October 28, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    Any Borland Product or Delphi itself is the Best Programmers Language Choice in Writing Utility Tools.

  14. Jeff
    December 3, 2007 at 8:48 am

    It sad but Delphi spirit will not comeback folks, They had their time, now is done. The new wave is the Dynamic scripting languages as Python, Ruby, PHP or enterprise languages as Java or C#.

    The visual paradigm is dead, We don’t need anymore fancy Gui Builders, we need more powerful IDE’s with UML support from the start, Agile methologies, Refactorings and good editors for this languages and not just for 1 language, have to be multilanguage, for example with Eclipse I’m using the Java editor with the Javascript for Ajax and the Python for testing in the same time. 80% of the jobs or contracts required Web development and distributed or web services also just few projects required a thick or thin client but is not as before as in the 90’s everything it was desktop or client/server. Delphi is dead folks, face it, Borland did know that was coming and I think Borland didn’t mistake it was fault of Microsoft introducing a false new programming tools and platform that it didn’t do what they promised and broked all the tooling products as Borland and others.

  15. John
    December 16, 2007 at 2:20 am

    To:Jeff

    What’s the purpose of web applications or web development when we get computers with more and more cores? Do we need web applications to run them on a 32-core processor? The future is to parallel programming and fancy GUI. Web applications and Java is just marketing.

  16. AlexG
    January 6, 2008 at 3:26 am

    Thank you all guys: the article and comments provided excellent answers to the number of Delphi-related questions (well, at least for me): Delphi is not dead and knowing it will continue to pay back (unlike some other languages: from ancient PL-I to “modern” COBOL.NET)
    I truly appreciate everybody’s time and efforts; I mean it, really.

  17. KevinR
    February 13, 2008 at 11:08 pm

    I’m unlucky enough to work in a shop that has a lot of legacy Delphi code. I have to say that the recent versions of Delphi, 2007 included, are the biggest productivity killer I have ever experienced. Seems like every session of using this software I start getting weird external exceptions and have to kill the entire IDE through task manager. Since the thing is such a dog it and takes several minutes to restart this is quite frustrating. I can work in Visual Studio for hours without problems like these. Not that it is perfect but light years ahead of ChodeGear in stability.

    Caveat emptor.

  18. Marka
    February 26, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    I still believe in delphi return… hope on this year version. And I agree on review 100%. By the way, you can give some directions to CodeGear, by filling Delphi plans survey: http://blogs.codegear.com/nickhodges/2008/02/06/39020 . At least CodeGear is listening.

  19. Excessive
    February 26, 2008 at 8:14 pm

    Dear Marka, thanks for your comment. But good things are gone and they will never return again. They were listening before too, got 40 pages of feedback from customers, and they took the comments offline.

    I have lost my hope, and switched to Visual Studio 2008. You should try it too. Express edition is free for everybody.

    Keep coding πŸ™‚

  20. Ender
    March 19, 2008 at 6:40 pm

    After two years of work with D2005 and D2006 I do not care if they write entire IDE in NET and it will be slow, but I want stable IDE. I can buy better CPU and more memory for slow IDE but I cannot buy stability or instant bugfixes.

  21. Christian
    June 23, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    Need to let off som steam here, been strugling with Delphi2007 all day now!
    Please look beyond the spelling, english is not my native language

    Migrated from Delphi 6 to Delphi 2007, and all the bugs I was hoping would be gone are still there, pluss some new ones 😦
    I can honestly say that this is the worst GUI designer in any IDE released after year 2002. Since there is no undo on GUI(!!), you are basicly done for if you mess something up by accident; either painstaikingly reconstruct, or close file without saving.
    The look and feel of the IDE is that of JDeveloper from 5 years ago, and some things are just plain weird. For instance; why are some properties listed several times on the same object in the Object inspector?
    Or, why am I not allowed to see the Object inspector while debugging?

    Worst thing is though: if you open a big project,anything above 3-400 000 lines of code, forget invoking intellisense unless you have 5-10 minutes to spare (and this is on 2GB ram, intel centrino duo CPU). My workplace is of course partly to blame: we should have used smaller modules in the first place.

    Its not all bad; they have made the searching a lot better, simply by grouping the hits according to file.

  22. ReturnedToDelphiAgain
    July 22, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    To make Delphi 2007 (or Rad Studio 2007) fast and stable, do this:

    Steps to make Delphi 2007 fast and stable:
    1. Install “December 2007 update”
    2. Install the “April 2008 Hotfix”
    3. Install the “June 2008 Hotfix for ilink32”
    4. Install IDEFixPack 1.6 (or newer) – freeware from 3rd-party
    5. Install DelphiSpeedup 2.78 (or newer) – freeware from 3rd-party

    If you use the built-in help, then also install “May 2008 Help Update”

    Both DelphiSpeedup 2.78 and IDEFixPack 1.6 are must-haves for any Delphi user.

    ps

    Embarcadero (new owner of CodeGear) is a totally different company with no constraints from Borland. A fast and stable initial release of Delphi 2008 will be very welcome by Delphi 7 developers who felt betrayed by Borland.

    What better revenge than to buy a great IDE from Embarcadero and see CodeGear revenues top Borlands?

    I can only hope that all the new Unicode changes won’t introduce a million bugs to the IDE, RTL, and VCL. We’ll see if Embarcadero delivers a fast and stable Delphi 2008…

  23. ReturnedToDelphiAgain
    July 22, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    I just found this:

    Whats New in Delphi 2007 (since Delphi 7)
    http://www.codegear.com/products/delphi/win32/whats-new/

    The core language changes were the most interesting to me. Examples include:

    operator overloading
    strict private
    strict protected
    class const
    class var
    class property
    nested classes
    static class methods
    for-in loops

  24. Excessive
    July 22, 2008 at 10:08 pm

    Hello, and thank you for taking time to comment on my blog.

    I am following Delphi IDE development closely, so I know most of them. But without a good appearance, these are not usable.

    Please do check the comments on “An open letter to Embarcadero” post.

    Keep coding!

  25. Juan Bautista
    August 11, 2008 at 2:08 am

    Do you Delphi users feel disappointed by Borland?

    Huh! So how we, C++Builder users, should feel?

    We gave up long ago and do our best to keep our code as far away as possible from Borland’s dependencies.

  26. Troodon
    November 9, 2008 at 9:02 am

    If Embarcadero do not abandon Delphi then it has a future because it has so many fans and because there is more to software development that what the industry wants. While it’s true that industry uses mostly Java and C++/C# these days (I wonder why) there is a lot of application programming to do in fields where people don’t have time to spend learning the latest gizmos and tricks. So they stick with what they know best and a lot of them have started off with Pascal, so Delphi is the natural way to pursue their interests. Besides, the Delphi paradigm is so powerful and the IDE, with patches applied, is quite stable. The interest in Delphi is actuall so strong that fans have developed an open-source “look-alike” called Lazarus that is pretty good, too.

  27. jfistere
    November 23, 2008 at 7:32 pm

    I’ve use Pascal/Delphi since my Apple II+ days with Pascal and a language card, up to Delphi 2007,and now I am ready to graduate from manipulating .csv files as text to actually connecting to Excel files for reading and writing.

    There used to be excellent Help available on that subject, but for D 2007, it looks like they are assuming everyone already know how to do it. The Help that is available seems obsessed with .NET and has very little on basic database programming.

    If anyone knows of a good tutorial on the subject, that would be great.

  28. December 13, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    Thanks!,

  29. June 4, 2009 at 5:57 am

    Net technology is Microsoft dependent and we all know how that turns out in the end.They are pushing enormous amounts of money to propagate the stuff but I think it is doomed allready.Net applications are history.Do you remember nice stories about network computers and similar crap.Net based applications?Network office? Network storage?Where are they now?Meanwhile they are trying to promote the Sliverlight in the same way to muscle out Adobe Flash.
    32 bit applications will be in use for many many years to come.
    Just look at the way users rejected Vista and stayed with XP.Not even Windows 7 will replace XP in a long time.Companies are not idiots with money to waste on fancy looking applications.
    My advice is to stay with Delphi.

    Yes .NET will die off. That is why Visual Studio is now losing the .NET name (next version). Too many companies adopted the .NET technology without understanding when it should be used.
    .NET just prepare for burial.

  30. Proud Mary Entertainment
    September 7, 2009 at 3:51 am

    Hello,
    New here. Thanks

    Mary Aloe
    Proud Mary Entertainment

  31. February 25, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    IMHO .NET is a born “Dead” Java-Clone. Read the ‘net and found out that M$ hired all ex-Java ex-Borland ‘rammers to create it…

    Besides all the good .NET brought, coding ease; extensive components; freeware as ‘express’; etc., can you answer WHY any vital application in Windows 7 is “NOT Written with” .NET or any other good M$ application? Think a little bit…

    .NET is Micro$oft’s part of “Embrace, extend and extinguish” (wiki it) for the naive. With bloat install size, no inter-version compatibility, whatever test shows otherwise “slower” compared to native, etc. .NET will never be my TOP choice unless Windows 8+ will be completely written with it (which will never be)…

    As long as Delphi/Builder/Borland/… only time will tell. I’m a small coder since the days the author mentioned, where he forgot the OWL from Borland. While M$ compilers were crawling Borland’s were running, times had changed cos the community is so IGNORANT as long as something came from M$. Is IE the best explorer? Is MSN the best IM? Are any program M$ included within Windows better than its rivals? Although they’re so so they’re the ‘most’ used since “we” are ignorant. IMHO M$ Visual C++/#/Basic/whatever case is not different either. THey’re “not” the best, they’re just from Micro$oft…

  32. Frankie Espinoza
    October 20, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    This is a great blog. Thanks for all your hard work and the info you give. I am hoping you post again soon.I wish u keep on.
    http://frankieespinoza.weebly.com/delphi-consulting.html

  33. September 14, 2012 at 4:20 am

    It β€” is impossible.

    P.S. Please review our icons for Windows and windows12icons.

  1. October 28, 2007 at 5:49 pm
  2. January 30, 2009 at 7:10 am
  3. September 3, 2012 at 4:05 pm

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