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.

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