DXperience and Delphi Prism, part deux

04 December 2008

I wrote an optimistic blog post right after PDC about DXperience and Delphi Prism, intimating that it should all just work. Of course, at that stage, for one reason or another, I'd not done very much testing so I was writing optimistically.

Now that I have done a whole lot more testing, there is some really good news and some really not-quite-so-good news.

First of all, the good. The main set of controls functions just fine in Delphi Prism. Drop an XtraGrid on the form and everything just works, including our designer, just as if you were using C# or Visual Basic. I ran into a couple of problems with ASP.NET involving the license licx file, but I'm looking into it.

Now the not-so-good. There is a feature in Visual Studio called templates (these are different from ASP.NET templates). This feature enables Visual Studio to create a source file nicely populated with relevant code when you click Add New Item. Each of those items you select (for example, Class, Windows Form, etc)  for Add New Item is a separate template. The template provides the source code file, and, of course, that source code file has to be written separately for each language the template supports.

When you install DXperience at present, it installs its templates for C# and VB, but, since it knows nothing about the Pascal language, it doesn't install anything for Delphi Prism. So, you'll find that XtraReports doesn't work in the Delphi Prism designer (step 1: Add New Item and select XtraReports Class; oops, it's not there). Of course you can write all the code yourself, and XtraReports will function just fine, but there'll be no support in the Visual Studio designer.

So we need to convert our templates and our installer so that DXperience adds the Pascal templates to Visual Studio when necessary. I have added these items to our internal task list and we'll be producing them in our in-between minor releases — no need to wait for v2009 vol1, for example. Our goal here is to make sure that Delphi Prism is a full member of the languages we support with our controls and components.

Ditto, our business frameworks. I'll admit though I haven't had a real chance to test XPO and XAF with Delphi Prism yet so I don't know what issues there may be.

Our productivity tools, CodeRush and Refactor! Pro, are being evaluated for Delphi Prism support. These products require a whole new level of language understanding: this is no "translate a couple of templates while watching the telly" kind of work.

If you are using DXperience in Delphi Prism, email me and I'll see if I can't get you beta code when we have it.

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