“A Day with Marco Cantu”
- Talk: Status of the Product – Marco will talk about the current Roadmap
- Talk: Deep Dive – Delphi Modern Language features
• Use in the product
• Real life examples
- Talk: REST with and without RAD Server
- Talk: FireMonkey – Confidence in deploying with target platform API versions (Apple / Android)
- Talk: Windows 10 (if time permits)
A “Delphi celebrity” day at the UK Dev Group! Delphi product manager and long-time Delphi evangelist Marco Cantu was visiting London and agreed to drop in and give us a series of talks, sessions and Q&A about the product, development road map, new language features.
I hope he didn’t mind presenting in an old-school London pub.
Jason introduced the day, and we had the usual “Problem Clinic” and “News” sessions.
Among what was mentioned:
Firemonkey Stencils – A free tool to allow designers to create templates for Firemonkey UI.
Extra UK-Dev-Group day!!! 23rd October. Bruno from TMS components will be visiting London to show of TMS Webcore, and the TMS component packs.
Marco discussed “The state of Delphi.”
My take-away were: Managing the code-base of a huge tool like Delphi and its ability to reliably compile to all the available installations and versions of Win32, Win64, Apple32, (Apple64 – in the near future), iPhone, Android (multiple versions) & Linux is a massive undertaking. It seems as though quite a lot of the energy of the coding team is dedicated to ensuring that multi-platform compilation actually works.
This feels like a waste, as so few of us use the multi-platform features of the tool, but I think in the longer term we will all need to compile to multiple platforms, so Embarcadero are probably doing the right thing in giving this so much focus.
Recent updates from Android (requiring new security features) and Apple (deprecating 32bit applications) were shown as examples of how fast the platform environment is evolving, and how hard this is to cope with.
The new “Community Edition” of Delphi and “skill sprint” training webinars and videos Embarcadero have been creating were also discussed, Marco saying that this was the most dynamic action to extend use of Delphi for many years, and had resulted in “massive numbers” of developers downloading the tool.
Idera’s ownership of Embarcadero is creating interesting synergies. Idera also own Sencha and the ExtJS code-base. It seems clear that a lot of the work on RAD Server is to make integration between ExtJS and Delphi better.
Idera have acquired “Whole Tomato” and will be using their team to build high quality productivity enhancement into their IDEs.
It was nice to hear Marco clearly express the “Delphi is not RAD or OOP, it is both”. I feel there has always been a big tension in the programming community on the lines of “RAD is rubbish, you should only do OOP”. Actually both methodologies are useful, and you can adopt both in Delphi, which is one of its USPs.
There seems to have been a lot of effort rebuilding Delphi’s installation systems, resulting in the new “GetIt” application getting a lot of development attention. The result is that Delphi can be installed faster, in a more modular way and it is also possible for 3rd party vendors and Embarcadero to offer “add ons” for the product more easily. This seems to be to be another good case of the business focusing time and money on something genuinely useful, rather than a cheap marketing win.
Marco Discussed the Delphi Roadmap
Upcoming offerings include: Android Native controls support & “proper” Z-Order support, Apple 64bit support, NULLable types, extensions to the capabilities of Records, extensions to RAD Server, Addition of mobile development to Delphi Professional SKU, work towards High DPI support, “Many” improvements to the RTL, some of which boost performance by a factor of 10, continued improvements for people managing large code-bases.
Marco then did some really interesting code-sessions, touching on generic types, TParallel. For, anonymous methods, use of the RTTI, including the “hidden gem” of TValue (a type-safe variant class!), Attributes and how they are being used to decorate Delphi’s core libraries including the new RAD Server features.
Marco then explored extensions to RAD server, component libraries such as TBatchMove, TJSONWriter, TJSONReader, TBatchMoveDatasetReader and a number of others, which allow creation of server-based back-end services and web-end-points.
UK Dev Group members have always been reluctant to adopt RAD Server due to the very high licence-costs. Embarcadero have switched the way licence-costs work, giving away free licences with the Enterprise and Architect versions of the product.
It is clear that RAD Server is and will remain a key focus for Embarcadero going forwards. Hopefully they can bring the product into alignment with developers needs, so we all actually start using it.
Further information and links for all the talks are available in the Members Group