It became even better with the updated one, where the nice codename Commodore for a 64 bit Delphi was introduced.
I first became a bit worried by a blogpost of Devexpress CTO Julian Bucknall who somehow managed to read between the lines. What he read was that C# Builder and Winforms support was dropped (Kaput as he says). His exact words:
There's no mention of the WinForms designer. Indeed, as I understand it, it's kaput. You should be using the forms designer that targets VCL.NET.
Huh? Let's take a further look at the roadmap, it says:
"Highlander" is a planned release that is both a major upgrade to Delphi .NET and a roll up of Delphi 2007 for Win32 and C++Builder 2007 into the complete 2007 RAD Studio. Highlander is planned to enhance Delphi's .NET support up to .Net v2.0 including both framework, design, and language enhancements.
Delphi developers will be able to develop rich, full-featured websites using RAD techniques and ASP.NET 2.0. VCL developers will be able to easily migrate code to managed code using VCL.NET. Delphi developers will also be able to use model-driven development to drastically improve their productivity.
Specific areas of focus under consideration for Highlander are: ... etc
OK search the roadmap for Winforms and, yes, it is not mentioned. But highlights in the above quote: major upgrade to Delphi .NET, enhance Delphi's .NET support up to .Net v2.0 including both framework, design, and language enhancements
Oh well Julian must be wrong, it will all have to do with C# Builder. Dropping C# Builder, hmmm I can imagine such a decision. Because C# Builder is in fact the Microsoft C# compiler and C# syntax = C# syntax.
Well he was not wrong, in fact he had it right. After reading this non.tech thread it was all clear to me, someone asks:
Will there continue to be a Winforms designer for Delphi for .Net? Because,
that's what our ECO applications are using and we are using DevExpress .Net Winforms components. Especially, after reading Julian's blog entry of
and Nick Hodges from CodeGear replies:
> Will there continue to be a Winforms designer for Delphi for .Net?
No -- we aren't going to be supporting Winforms going forward.
Shock, WTF, no more winforms support???
How can a roadmap talk about design enhancements, but in fact drop it?
Delphi .NET, the history
Before I continue it is good to take a brief look at the history of Delphi in the .NET world.
Delphi entered the .NET world, announced as a first class .NET citizen read about it here. First class with everything on it. It was a evolution, instead of the revolution, so Delphi developers could embrace .NET the easy way. Well it turned out that Borland/CodeGear had to play catch up with Microsoft. .NET 2.0 support is still not here.
I remember once at a Delphi launch, here in the Netherlands, that someone asked when will Delphi support .NET 2.0? The anwser: Within a few months after its release. OK we know that a few month became a few month more, but what the hack we can wait, we want to do Delphi, also in .NET!
Finally its there, but it is crippled without the winforms designer support.
What does this mean for Delphi.NET Winform developers?
This one is not hard to answer. Delphi .NET and C# programmers will have no form designer if they move forward to .NET 2.0 and beyond. Be assured you can manually code your design (Yeah, yeah I am looking forward to that...) and compile your code. So basically they are forced to move to either VCL.NET or VS. The first option, VCL.NET, is, imo, not a real option because the lack of thirdparty components. So the only valid option looks to be, to move on to VS. This will drive those developers away from Delphi, is that the goal? I doubt that.
What does this all mean for Delphi as a product?
Well I can only write down my own opinion here, but I think it is a bad mistake. Whether we like it or not .NET will become more and more the synoniem for Windows Development. Win32 will be supported for a long, long time but from a business point of view as well from a personal point of view (jobs) you can't deny .NET when you development has a focus on Windows. You just can't.
What for appeal has a .NET IDE with only ASP.NET support?
Personally I think it is more logic to have an IDE that support both.
Is VCL.NET a true alternative for Winforms?
I don't think so. I don't know if it is used often, but it seriously lacks thirdparty support.
I think that Delphi will continue to be strong on native Win32/64, but its .NET participation will decline.
What does this mean for me?
I always tried to pick the right tools for the right job. At this moment I do projects in Delphi 2007 Win32(60%), Delphi .NET(10%) and Visual Studio 2005 C# ASP.NET(30%).
In the long term I will probably move my Delphi .NET applications to VS C#. Fortunately they are not that big, but it will cost me some time. I think it is a pitty, because VS2005 has also it's quirks. Even now I find that Delphi .NET (the IDE) has some advantages compared to VS. (Still can't get used to the endless list of tabs in VS)
Delphi will stay to be my number one tool in the Win32/64 native development world, but on .NET it will be another story.
Nevertheless the roadmap has some great things for the near future (Unicode, Win64). However I find it a bad sign that the roadmap is not clear on the Winforms departure, which has great impact on the developers using it.
It seems that messages from CodeGear now, and Borland in the past, are still driving confusion, and that will affect its customers, and eventually CodeGear self.