Some more about Delphi

Delphi is a proprietry Integrated Development Environment for developing applications on Microsoft Windows. It is the home of the "Delphi language" which is an extended version of Pascal

Delphi enables you to rapidly build Microsoft Windows applications, both native compiled code and on the DotNet platform.
Cross platform (Linux, Mac OS-X) compilers are to be released in future versions although a cross platform IDE is not announced.


The product has a rich component set and is especially suitable for developing multi-tier enterprise database front-ends.


Environment

The design of the IDE last changed significantly with Delphi 2005 when quality issues badly impacted developers confidence in the product. This may have been a good thing in retrospect as an emphasis on bug fixing in recent versions has resulted in a very slick, smooth and responsive IDE.


The customisable docking IDE windows give a convenient development environment which switches to debug mode as soon as you test run your application.
The docked IDE represents a major step forward in ease of use compared with an undocked style.

Components

Delphi ships with a very large library and component set.
Visual controls are extensive and include the Ribbon control licenced from Microsoft.
You get the Vista common dialogs and support for Touch and Gestures. The dbExpress and datasnap components give flexible options for data and database connectivity.


There is good support for Web development including servers and consumption of web services, data, socket, HTML page and XML handling.
IntraWeb components allow applications to be developed that run in your web browser.


There are a lot of third party components available. Notably the open source Project JEDI


Documentation

Delphi Version 7 Help was benchmark. Clearly describing the class hierachies and with lots of embedded examples.
Later versions suffered a pathetic help system which is only now maturing from good to excellent.


Although Delphi is a commercial product, the source of the code libraries is included. Ctrl+Left-mouse-clicking on a class or method will take you to the declaration so that you can see exactly how it works.

The Developer Network has a large archive of articles and videos.

Visit Code Central for example code, projects and utilities.

Discussion forums enable you to get help.

There are occasional webcasts including the excellent free annual CodeRage event (click here for replays) where you can see code demonstations and pose questions to the experts.


Versions

The freeware Turbo version is regretably discontinued.


The paid-for versions can be bought individually or as a "Studio" including C++ and PHP IDEs.
Professional is ideal for most programming tasks.
Enterprise includes dbExpress drivers to connect to all common SQL databases.
Architect, UML diagramming and other bells and whistles.
Prism allows you to write for the DotNet (or Mono) platform.


Conclusion

If you program for the Windows platform then Delphi is probably the tool for you.
The advanced versions are priced for the enterprise customer however when you allow for the time and money it saves you in your development effort then it can be well worth the money.