DevExpress VCL products: Support for Tiburón

25 August 2008

Today Embarcadero announced Delphi 2009 and C++Builder 2009, previously codenamed Tiburón.

Consequently, we have been getting some questions on what our policy is about supporting these new compilers with our VCL products. To which, I can only say, duh, support them, of course.

However, there is more to this support than meets the eye, so let me expound a little on the subject.

The biggest change, at least as far as we're concerned, is the new support for Unicode in Delphi 2009. I really don't want to go into the issues too deeply here, but will instead state that the Unicode support is pervasive. The default string type is now Unicode and not Ansi as before. Although CodeGear have done a remarkable job in making the porting of normal application code to Delphi 2009 as seamless as possible, it is not the same with some of the code we have in our codebase. As a quick example, in order to gain the best performance for our VCL UI Ocontrols, we make extensive use of direct Win32 API calls. Of course, in doing so we've been making use of the Ansi versions of the interfaces. All of these need to be changed, thoroughly checked and tested after conversion. And that's just the tip of the iceberg: we can't just make wholesale changes to our codebase, since we need to have it support all Delphi versions from Delphi 6 to Delphi 2009 (and, no, just $IFDEFing whole blocks of code doesn't count).

The next biggest change is the interface between C++Builder 2009 and Delphi 2009. Again, there are a great many changes in this area. Huge. Although the vast majority of our VCL customers use Delphi, we have to make sure our C++Builder customers are well served by our port. I'd have to say I wish Borland of old had spent as much quality time in this area as Tiburón R&D have: our C++Builder support would have been much easier.

The current goal for Tiburón support is to convert all current versions of our active VCL products. Let me parse that more carefully.

  • By "active VCL products" I mean all of the VCL suites and libraries that form part of our VCL subscription and that are mentioned here. The retired products that you may also download as part of your VCL subscription (such as CodeRush for Delphi, say) are not included and will not be ported. Other products that form part of the unified installer, but that were not supported in Delphi 2007, are not included either.
  • By "current versions" I mean only the latest version of a particular suite will be ported. So, for example, only ExpressQuantumGrid Suite v6 will be converted, only ExpressPivotGrid Suite v2 will be ported, and so on.

The next big change is the new generics support in Delphi 2009. We are not planning on supporting generics with the current conversion project.

Although Embarcadero announced Delphi 2009 and C++Builder 2009 today, they explicitly refrained from saying anything about when they would be shipped. Considering the vast number of changes and their architectural breadth embodied in these new compilers, there is absolutely no possible way for us to be ready with our support on the day that Delphi 2009 and C++Builder 2009 are released. None whatsoever. We shall require a good deal of time to test our code with the final RTM of the compilers, once we get it.

Given the fundamental changes that are needed in our code to support Tiburón, we are considering having a beta program so that customers can get the code early and do their own testing. It's likely that this will be offered to our VCL subscription customers initially.

Oh, and if you own one of the products being updated, the support for Tiburón will be provided for free. Obviously it will be part of the normal VCL subscription update cycle as well. It goes without saying that if you are planning to move to Delphi 2009 or C++Builder 2009, I would urge you to make sure that you have the latest versions of the products you own and that you've fully integrated them into your applications. Moving existing projects to Tiburón is going to be enough work without having to worry about the fact that you're upgrading your controls as well.

12 comment(s)

Sounds good. Very glad to hear about this.

27 August, 2008
B Roozendaal

Hello Julian,

Thanks for your posting. I'm glad there is at least one posting that states that switching to D2009 is not as easy as has been portrayed in some postings elsewhere. Of course your task will be even harder than that of most of us that are not working on a component library. I never believed that implementing Unicode was as easy as others led to believe.

I'll just sit and wait for your beta release. Please *do* release your libraries in a beta program. That's not only good for you guys, but for your uses as well.



27 August, 2008
Julian Bucknall (DevExpress)

Bart: I'm reminded of the demo Borland did when they released Delphi 8, the first version for .NET. They took the FishFacts demo from Delphi 1 and recompiled it without any changes and ran it as a .NET app. That speaks volumes for the amount of work they did for compatibility, but I don't know of anyone who was able to do the same thing in their own apps. It's the same in this case: some apps are dead easy, others require more work. We're finding the "more work" path is the one we're forced to follow.

Cheers, Julian

27 August, 2008
Allen Drennan

That's really great news, the biggest news for me besides Unicode support in Delphi is DevExpress supporting it.  Without your support I would be slow to move to D2009.

27 August, 2008
Claudio Piffer

Hi Julian

great news!

Thank you very much for your support!

28 August, 2008
Hallvard Vassbotn

While there is no-doubt a lot of work for you to port your components, there should be little need to change the Win32 API calls - unless you explicitly use the A-postfix versions or you explicitly use AnsiStrings (as opposed to string).


28 August, 2008
Martin Lawrence

Great to hear, Julian.  I've enjoyed using your excellent vcl products for some years now, and it's always good to hear that your team is still putting effort into the vcl side of things.

I expect the usual reliable software from you guys, so no problem waiting a little for that.



28 August, 2008
Craig Knight

Thanks for keeping us up to date on this Julian, look forward to the beta.

1 September, 2008
Michael Potter

Great news Julian.  One of the reasons I use your products is because you are honest and up-front with your plans along with the challenges along the way.  I have some of my own components (used internally) to convert to Delphi 2009 and I have the same worries about how easy/hard the conversion to unicode will be.

Fortunately, I have no plans to upgrade to Delphi 2009 on the day it is released.  I'll be waiting until I hear how stable it is, and how much they break with their new unicode stuff.  I'll probably just wait until the DevExpress VCL components have been updated and I have no problem waiting a while for that.

2 September, 2008
Tom Miller

Any news on a time frame?  Several weeks, several months? Just wondering how big is big  -:)

10 September, 2008
Rafael Andres Marin de la Cruz

It's possible an estimation for the release of Delphi 2009 support? One month, six months, etc.?

11 September, 2008
Ralf Berberich

Isn't it possible, as a first step, to just (simplified of course) replace "string" with "AnsiString" through the source code? My feeling tells me that it would be a relatively easy thing to do, and would give us a working version (even if w/o Unicode) while preparing ourselves for Delphi 2009.

This would help us (customers using your products) use this time to convert our own code...

And maybe it could also be done for "older" versions (i.e. ExpressQuantumGrid 5.x).

17 September, 2008

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