What next for Embarcadero Delphi? Roadmap with Mac, Linux support published.

Embarcadero has published an updated roadmap for its Delphi development tools: Delphi, C++Builder and the RAD Studio shared IDE. These tools combine the Object Pascal (Delphi) or C++ language with a visual component library and native code compiler for Windows.

Chief Technical Architect Michael Rozlog outlines four products which are being worked on, including “Fulcrum”, “Wheelhouse”, “Commodore” and “Chromium”. He says work is being undertaken on all of these, so the exact release schedule is not specified. Embarcadero has an annual release cycle for these products so you might reasonably project that Fulcrum is set for release later this year, Wheelhouse for 2011, and Commodore for 2012. Delphi 2010 came out in August 2009.

Delphi “Fulcrum” introduces a cross-compiler for Mac OS X, with the emphasis on client applications. The IDE will run only on WIndows. Rozlog also talks about integration with Microsoft Azure so that Embarcadero can tick the Cloud Computing box.

Delphi “Wheelhouse” adds Linux support, on a similar basis where the IDE runs only on Windows. It also adds a focus on server applications for both Linux and Mac OS X, including support for Apache modules.

Delphi “Commodore” is the 64-bit release, with 64-bit and easier multi-core development on all three platforms. Rozlog also tosses in “Social Networking integration” and “Better documentation”.

2012 is a long time to wait for 64-bit, particularly as the Windows server world is now primarily 64-bit. Embarcadero is promising a 64-bit compiler preview for the first half of 2011, though this will be command-line only.

Delphi “Chromium” is a revamp of the Visual Component Library with a new look and feel and “natural input integration” – location, voice, video motion.

In addition, Rozlog talks about updates for Delphi Prism, which is loosely the Delphi language plus a .NET compiler, and integrates into Visual Studio. Prism 2011 will work with Visual Studio 2010, and includes support for Mono. This extends to working “with MonoTouch to create Apple iPhone ready applications.” Rozlog doesn’t state whether this has been cleared with Apple’s Steve Jobs, who is opposed to use of languages other than Objective C for iPhone or iPad development.

Is Embarcadero doing enough to keep Delphi current? I’m not sure. Delphi is a fantastic RAD and native code compiler for Windows; in the past it suffered when Borland tried to extend it beyond that, to Linux and .NET, distracting development effort from its core role. The risk here is that the Mac and Linux effort may be more of the same. Of course this will be nice to have, though running the IDE on Windows and compiling for Mac is a limitation that means it will not appeal to Mac developers, only to Delphi Windows developers hoping to extend their market. But there are other ways to do cross-platform now –  Silverlight, Flash, web applications – and I wonder if the time for this has passed.

A compiler for iPhone and iPad would now be bigger news, especially since Silverlight and Flash are not available on these platforms, but for this Embarcadero would need to overcome Apple’s cross-compiler restrictions as well as solve the technical problems.

Windows 7 has breathed some new life into Windows client development. I hope Embarcadero is not neglecting areas like great RAD support for features like Jump Lists and thumbnail previews, for the sake of the uncertain cross-compiler market.

There is a discussion of the new Roadmap in the Delphi forums here, and Marco Cantu also comments.

11 thoughts on “What next for Embarcadero Delphi? Roadmap with Mac, Linux support published.”

  1. Back in 2007 the roadmap had 64 bit slated for 2008. Now, in 2010, 64 bit is slated for 2012! I can’t imagine that the preview 64 bit compiler will come with a full VCL and enough 3rd party component support to be useful enough to actually deliver software.

    So, at this rate I expect that when the roadmap is updated in 2012 it will project 64-bit for delivery in 2015. 64 bit Windows for x64 was released in 2005. What the hell is going on over at Embarcadero? How hard can it be to write a 64 bit version of Delphi?

    I personally think that the infatuation with Mac and Linux is a total waste of time, I don’t believe that they will suceed in a meaningful way, just as they didn’t with Kylix. Why Embarcadero insist on treating their customers like dirt is beyond me.

  2. It took a long time for the roadmap to be revised. Embacadero are coming across as a better managed company than Borland et al. and I’m happy that there is more consistency. No apparent knee jerk reactions. Shifts in delivery dates were more to do with Code Gear finding the resources to implement the plan and too eager to please the customer.
    I do expect Embaradero to deliver more or less on the current plans. Growing the company the way they are doing is too slow though and it would be better to grow through acquisition. Its not like they don’t have a willing investor. Personally, I would like to see a more aggressive strategy that finds matching technologies. For example, I think DevExpress would be an excellent fit. Merger/Cash purchase someone needs to kick butt.

  3. For me this roadmap is not offering anything extra. I sure do hope they will not drop the Apple and Linux thing like they did in the past with Kylix and .NET (inc. VCL.NET) wasting themselfs and their customers a lot of time/money. But this time it won’t affect me, cause I am not buying it.

  4. I believe their iPhone/iPad strategy is to have Delphi Prism and Mono cover that base.

    Nonetheless, this is a good thought and something to ponder.

    “But there are other ways to do cross-platform now – Silverlight, Flash, web applications – and I wonder if the time for this has passed.”

  5. Not too little, but too late. Way too late.

    We have to switch to C# today just not to fall behind the curve, figures waiting for years and years.

  6. Yes as Dario says not enough compelling arguments and any good features have been missed as devs have been migrating to c# for years. Ive been a Delphi dev since D1 and actually still use it today, and only D7 which can still generate fast and lightweight executables. Whilst the cross platform feature is compelling I’m not sure its enough to tempt people back. I remember, bought and used Kylix when it was released. The problem was that lots of people ‘wanted’ cross platform ability but when the product was released this ‘interest’ never actually result in lots of sales.

    As for montouch as above, unless it generates objective C and bundles it into an XCode project for compiling, code signing and building within XCode it will violate the TOS of the SDK.

  7. I think like you, embarcadero is not doing enough. I don’t say they do not work hard, i’m sure they do, but they miss the key advantage they could have in the battle. delphi ;net was a mistake, but prims is not the solution because it requires nearly as much job to switch to prims then learn c#, so développers will leave the boat and go to c# or java;
    if the problem with delphi.net was the big changes Ms made to .net, then the evident solution should be to write their own C# semicompiled code, their own java, and call it HERACLES !
    This way nobody would make unwanted “big changes”, they would masterise the virtual machine, be cross platform, allow us to webify existing apps in a nutshell, be 100% compatible with delphi and all browser .. etc .. only advantages.

    I’m sure Ingeneers would love to work on a new virtual machine.
    And you know what, oracle just buyed sun, there are probably high level ingeneers who worked on java leaving sun now … but ok it would cost money to hire them.

    money is the key, and that’s why whe ha the incompatible delphi prims, because it’s cheap.

    just my 5 cents.

  8. At least when Delphi will be 64 bits and Linux compliant, Lazarus/Freepascal (which has ALREADY that) will be far ahead…

  9. Nice to hear that Linux and MAC OS will be supported!!! Very good idea !!! But the question is: when??? I hope this will be soon. IDE is great for RAD development of application interfaces, but there is lack of support for other OS. I hope this will change soon!

  10. Lack of direction, or trying to shot in everything that moves.
    The end result will be bankrupt.
    For example, why the idea of compiling for MAC? They should know that Apple primary tool is Cocoa/Objective-C and all other tools are deprecated unless they have bridges to Cocoa (Ruby or Phyton have, but you need to know Cocoa as well). Existing XCode compiles to 64-bit because new MACs are all 64-bit and in a few years time 32-bit applications will be outnumbered. Where does Delphi fit here? Is delphi going to compile for Carbon which has their days counted?

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