Delphi’s quarter century has provided me with a great ride. Many hours of fun writing Windows applications, usually with a technical orientation.
I don’t develop desktop applications much anymore. But when I have the urge, Delphi remains my “go to” tool of choice.
My first efforts to write software began with Visual Basic and it’s plain Basic compiler predecessor. Visual Basic arrived in 1991, and provided me with a fast way to write Windows programs. On the plus side, you could drag-and-drop components into a window, creating your GUI quickly. On the negative side, interpreted VB programs ran slowly on the under-powered PC’s of the era.
Delphi’s quarter century started on February 14, 1995. For me, it changed everything. Delphi 1 did all the visual things VB had to offer, plus it gave me compiled applications that ran amazingly fast. My challenge was the requirement to learn a new language, Pascal, and its object-oriented extensions. Since by the Pascal had been around for twenty years, I found lots of learning resources at the university library.
Delphi was developed by a really smart Danish guy, Anders Hejlsberg, who had written Turbo Pascal for Borland previously. He guided Delphi for only a year, though, moving to Microsoft in 1996. If you are interested in these early days to software tool development, listen to this wonderful podcast with Anders.
My favorite versions of Delphi were 5 (1999) and XE2 (2011). Like each version of Windows, Delphi remains backwards compatible.
Delphi’s Quarter Century – Amazing Performance
Four features stand out for me. First, Delphi created great documentation, particularly in the early years. These included active user groups and some great third party books. I could also find tons of sample code. Most of the built-in Visual Component Library was written in Delphi and I could read the code to see how the developers had done things.
Second, a wonderful user interface (Integrated Development Environment) for visual development and code creation. I always felt powerful and in control. Particularly useful for me were all of the built-in debugging features.
Third was continuous extensibility. Many developers wrote additional components which I could just download and plug-in to my Delphi programs. These included the very useful JEDI Code Library.
Finally, Delphi gave me access to under-the-hood power of the Windows API and its standard performance.
I have been writing code through all of Delphi’s quarter century. This continues today with the Community Edition.