Delphi - the developement system
 

Today RAD (Rapid Application Development) systems are the only way to face the complexity of software development for GUI (Graphic User Interface) operating systems (the most common one is Microsoft Windows). There are a lot of RAD systems on the market today for Windows. A famous one is Microsoft Visual Basic, Microsoft’s “official” software development system for Windows. PowerSoft has its own RAD, Power Builder. Borland has its own, called Delphi.

This article tries to be a brief description of Delphi. It tries to answer some of the most common questions about Delphi: what is Delphi, is it really so great, what does it offer, etc.?

Borland described Delphi as “the only Windows  development tool to combine the Rapid Application Development (RAD) benefits of visual component-based design with the power of an optimizing native code compiler and scalable database access”. It was pointed out that Delphi represents the next generation in performance, with the world’s fastest compiler, in Rapid Application Development via visual Two-Way-Tools, in Component Reuse, being a true object-oriented environment and in Scalable Database Access with the fast track to client/server. Delphi received a lot of industry awards like BYTE Best Technology of Comdex 1994 for best development/system software, PC/Computing Excellence Award, Ziff-Davis Cannes Software Excellence Award for Overall Technical Excellence and for Languages and Tools, etc.

Delphi is a RAD and a powerful native code compiler, having Object Pascal as the underlying language. Object Pascal is an extension of the object-oriented Pascal found in Turbo/Borland Pascal starting with version 5.5.

The Delphi compiler is a fast optimizing native code compiler, that compiles Windows applications at more than 350,000 lines per minute on a Pentium 90mhz. It produces highly efficient executables (EXEs) that run up to 15 to 50 times faster than interpreted p-code (generated by Visual Basic or Power Builder). Delphi executables are immediately deployable and require no runtime interpreter Dynamic Link Library (DLL). The optimizing 32-bit native code compiler creates executables that are up to 300 to 400% faster than 16-bit Delphi applications.

Delphi contains a comprehensive suite of visual design and debugging tools that will accelerate development so you move seamlessly from prototyping to deployment. You can create high-performance applications in record time with the gallery of reusable forms, project templates, programming experts, and context-sensitive intelligent help.

With Delphi you can reuse components to maximize productivity. The comprehensive Visual Component Library (VCL), a collection of more than 75 objects such as dialogs, buttons, and list boxes, includes a host of additional reusable objects including database controls, notebook tabs, grids, multimedia controls, and much more. The 32-bit VCL includes new Windows 95 components, like tree and list views. You can easily modify and reuse Delphi components and OCX controls, saving time and productivity. Of course you can easily create sophisticated components of your own and reuse them between multiple projects.

The underlying Object Pascal language is a complete and powerful object-oriented programming language, enhanced to fully support exception handling. It offers all of the benefits of a structured programming language and a true object-oriented development tool, including polymorphism, inheritance, and encapsulation.

With Delphi you can create DLLs and use them with C++, Paradox,(R) Visual
Basic, and other tools. Delphi also supports OBJ files and COM objects.

Delphi gives you the control and flexibility you demand with complete access to the Windows API. Delphi now fully supports OCXs, COM and ActiveX.

A frequently asked question is how tough is it to learn and use Delphi. If you have a little Visual Basic experience than you are ready to use the visual development system. If you don’t it doesn’t matter: you can learn it very easily anyway. Another issue concerns the Pascal programming language. It would be better if you already know the language but of course you can also easily learn it from scratch (it is a very natural and easy to learn language). A little knowledge on object-oriented programming  and event-driven programming is also required if you intend to develop non-trivial applications.

Delphi is my favorite software development system for Windows. I chose Delphi because I need something very easy to use to help me develop Windows applications. I could have chosen the famous Visual Basic but I needed something more powerful than a BASIC-family language and interpreted code. I needed the power of an object-oriented language and of an optimizing compiler. I needed an easy way to develop my custom controls and reuse them between multiple projects. I needed an exception handling that would make my program recover from any error condition instead of crashing. I needed a compiler that generated a high-performance EXE file that can be easily deployed and did not require any run-time libraries.

For non-trivial applications I needed Delphi.
 
 

Bibliography

· Delphi Fact Sheet, Copyright © 1996 Borland International, Inc.
· The Delphi for Windows 95 and Windows NT Fact Sheet, Copyright © 1996 Borland International, Inc.
· An Evaluation of Rapid Application Development Tools for Windows: A Comparison Between Delphi and Visual Basic, Copyright © 1996 Borland International, Inc.
· The Delphi FAQ, maintained by Graham Mainwaring

Article by Horatiu A. Tanescu
The author can be contacted at t-horatio@usa.net
 
 
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