DevExpress offering Metro-inspired Tile control for Delphi VCL, plans to drop support for Delphi 7

DevExpress has released an update to its VCL component suite, version 12.1, which includes a Metro-inspired tile control. That is, it looks like a Windows 8  Metro-style application, but in reality it runs as a desktop application. The VCL components support Embarcardero’s Delphi and C++ Builder, but not the FireMonkey library that runs cross-platform.

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The new release also adds a “Server Mode” for  the ExpressQuantumGrid grid control, which retrieves only those rows needed to populate the current view.

DevExpress CTO Julian Bucknall has posted about the update. He says it is time to drop support for Delphi 7 (though this is supported in 12.1):

12.1 will be the last version to support Delphi and C++Builder 2010. I will sound a further note of caution: it’s likely that in 2013 we shall drop support for Delphi 7 and Delphi 2007 (what you might call the “ASCII IDEs”), so that we can concentrate on the latest run-times and environments.

Delphi 7 is significant because it was the last version to use its own dedicated IDE built with Delphi itself, and by today’s standards is delightfully small and fast.

Bucknall has reservations about Embarcadero’s move to Clang and LVVM for 64-bit C++ Builder and eventually for the other languages too:

I’m going to say we shall treat it with kid gloves. Re-engineering a compiler so fundamentally says “breaking changes” to me, especially given the necessary extensions that are present in the current C++Builder to interface with Delphi. So, fair warning: if the changes are too severe, we shall not support 64-bit C++Builder in 12.2. It took us long enough to support 64-bit Delphi across our entire product line, and this year we don’t have the resources. That doesn’t mean we won’t ever do this (after all, Embarcadero are saying that they’ll switch completely to Clang/LVVM at some point), just that we won’t this year.

Returning to the Tile Control: it will be fascinating to see if this sort of approach, mimicking Metro with a desktop app, becomes popular. Microsoft is promising some of the same with Office 15, though we have not seen much of this officially yet. The advantage is that you can make desktop apps just as touch-friendly as Metro apps. The disadvantage is that you do not get Windows Store support, Contracts, app isolation, or other benefits of the Windows Runtime which underlies the Metro side. Users may be confused.

I doubt Microsoft will mind though. It all helps to promote the Metro style which is the distinctive feature of Windows 8.

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4 comments to DevExpress offering Metro-inspired Tile control for Delphi VCL, plans to drop support for Delphi 7

  • I think the bigger disadvantage is that Metro is a terrible fit for large monitors and mouse control. I’ve seen a few Metro designs for Windows 7 (Github and MetroTwit) and they’re just ghastly. Stick with traditional window design on the desktop, please.

  • Tim: I would agree with you about Delphi 7 being the last great Delphi-written-in-Delphi release and correspondingly is extremely fast, especially on modern hardware. The main issues though are two-fold: first, in supporting Delphi 7 we have to make sure our code works both in an ASCII and in a UNICODE world (yeah, in theory, not too much of a problem — we’ve all grown out of using strings for non-string data); and second, unless we want to write our code twice, we have to rigorously stick to a ten-year old language. That means no new interfaces, no generics, no new RTTI support; it’s all just late-90s code. The world has moved on from that and we look increasingly archaic. That’s one reason I like Nick Hodges’ blog posts on the new language features: (a) I learn stuff, and (b) other people become aware that Delphi programming has changed in the last decade.

    Cheers, Julian

  • Burak KALAYCI

    Delphi programming has changed, yes, but not every change is positive (see Metro interface and W8 [aka fall of MS]).

    I still prefer and use D7 (with TntUnicode controls) over any other language and IDE because it is simply still the best. When the times force me to move on, I will, but not to an inferior version of Delphi for sure.

    For a company making a metro inspired control (and a ribbon control before that), probably dropping support for D7 is a better [and consistent] decision.

  • omar

    I have XE2 but still do most of my coding in D7. It seems incredible,
    since D7 was release 10 years ago! A lost decade if you ask me,
    for no essential feature was added in the 11 Delphi versions that followed.