Sunday, July 16, 2006

Native vs. .Net - My stake on it

My stake on Nick Hodges (the new Delphi Product Manager) blogpost Battle of the Heavyweights: Native vs. .Net.

If you want to build a .Net client -- you can do that with our tool. If you want to build a native client with an eye towards moving to .Net on your timeframe, then we let you do that. It's up to you to decide. We don't want to make that decision for you.

This shows the real power of Delphi. Where other tool vendors 'force' you to learn and build your applications with new technologys, keeping your exsisting code as legacy, Delphi keeps your existing code as much as possible available, and compatible, for the technologies of the future.
They have proved many times now that they can do that, and I'm sure they will, and can do that in the future. (Win16-Win32-Kylix-.NET)
In the 'every day' job this means that a decision between technologies like Native and .Net are not that important for a Delphi developer. I mean they are important, and have to be taken carefully, but whatever the outcome of the decision might be, the chance that it is the right decision increases dramatically compared to other other tools. (In some other tools you don't have choice)
By using good program skills, like seperating your GUI from you business logic, it can increase even more.
As an independent software vendor, building tools on customer specifications, that decision is either made by my client, or by me. If I have to make that decision (hack most customers even don't know what .NET is), I might choose for Win32 native clients, because of:
  1. 10 year or even more VCL Experience
  2. I still can build a Win32 client faster with standard VCL and Thirdparty components like Developer Express then using .NET's winforms

These are pretty much economic reasons, my clients wants me to build good applications as fast as possible. This does not mean that I don't do .NET clients applications, if the situation or a client demands it then that is the good decision and I build .NET clients.

Delphi helps you to make the right decision, and whatever you choose it is always the right decision!

So suppose I choose for Native:
In the worst case scenario where Win32 will not be able to run in the future (that truly would be the end of the world ;-) ) Delphi gives me the possibility to:

  1. Make a pure .NET application where I could use all my business logic units instantly and I only have to remake the GUI in whatever it is called by then. (Fortunately I have been able to built up my .NET experience even more by now, so that should not be a problem)
  2. Migrate to a VCL.NET application which would be, in the best scenario, painless if all the (third party) components I use would support that.

Not be able to look into the future, this (and of course Delphi's great history) gives me enough confidence to take such a decision.

Of course keeping it all compatible comes with a price. It demands more resources from "DevCo". For instance the Delphi developers can't use Delphi for .NET 2.0 Developement yet. (see the roadmap)
For me personally it is an overcoming problem, but I can imagine that for somebody else, building applications on client specifications, this might be a problem. If a client now demands .NET 2.0 Delphi is obviously not the choice. (and that would be a pitty, wouldn't it?)
I think this is one of the issues "devco" should work on: "keeping the timeframes as narrow as possible"

So Native vs .NET is no war for a Delphi developer, it is more a smooth evolution.

Just my 2 cents.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

.NET 2.0 for Delphi programmers - Book review

Last week I received my copy of ".NET 2.0 for Delphi programmers" by Jon Shemitz. The marketplace is not flooded with Delphi books, so every new book is intresting in it self. This book attracted my attention because of the .NET 2.0 part of the title.
The book is mainly about .NET and C# and what is in it for Delphi developers.

"Your Delphi experience makes .NET easy to learn"

The first part of the book gives an introduction to the .NET technologies like CIL and Managed Code, and how this is implemented/different from native Delphi. There are a lot examples in C# and Delphi to illustrate the different technologies.
Besides chapters dedicated to Delphi for .NET there are also chapters that are dedicated to C#. The last part of the book is about the Framework Class Library (FCL). The FCL is described in great detail.

"..learning the FCL is your ticket to learn once, work anywhere freedom."

This book shows both the real power of .NET and Delphi. We Delphi guys may consider ourself lucky because the Delphi language and C# are so remarkable alike.

IMO this book is a must read for Delphi programmers, even if you don't do .NET that much (yet), it gives great information for both sides of the fence.
It makes the complex things easy to understand to give you immediately knowledge of the material, even if you don't understand all the details yet.

I consider this book a tribute to Delphi!