Got Delphi XE Starter? Want to install our controls? Tough.

02 February 2011

A hint of some strong emotion, perhaps, but let me explain why. The problem isn’t with you, the problem is with what Embarcadero have done in order to produce a Starter edition of Delphi XE. First, a bit of background.

Last week, Embarcadero announced the release of the Starter editions of Delphi and C++Builder XE. I, as CTO for the premier third party vendor in the VCL space, actually learned about it from an article in SD Times, not Embarcadero. Nice.

Here’s the blurb about the editions, from an email to all partners I received at 4:00 pm today:

Delphi XE Starter and C++Builder Starter are a great way to get started with rapid, visual, Windows application development. The Starter editions include a streamlined IDE with a code editor, ultra-fast Delphi compiler or popular Embarcadero C++ compiler, and an integrated debugger.

They also offer two-way visual designers to speed development, hundreds of visual components, and InterBase Express for connectivity with the InterBase database.

Getting started on realizing your product vision or getting your startup off the ground can be difficult without seed capital or sales revenue. Outfitting developers with professional level tools can be cost prohibitive before you have product to sell. So the Starter Edition is both designed and priced to allow individuals and startups to  bootstrap their vision until related revenues reach $1,000 at which point a specially priced Professional Edition license can be purchased.

A great idea for an entry-level product that the community has been asking for ever since the Turbo editions from a couple of years back. And they come without the “can’t install any controls” limitation from those older editions. See, here’s what it says later on in that email:

Delphi XE Starter and C++Builder XE Starter don't have the restrictions on adding components and tools like the old Turbo Explorer products did. Starter edition users can install and use commercial components and tools from technology partners.  This means new customers for you.

Sounds good, yes? Win-win all round, right? Except…

You see, over the past 6-9 months or so, I must have explained how our installer works to several people at Embarcadero, with regard to another initiative happening there. It seems, to a man, they’ve completely ignored it. Let me explain it to you dear reader. As I’ve stated many times recently, at this present time we support 14 possible compilers with our VCL products. Since DCUs change with every version of the compiler, we either add every single DCU of our source files for every single compiler in our install, or we kick off a compilation step during the install to create the DCUs and run-time/design-time packages on the fly using the compilers you have on your machine. (And this is exactly the reason we don’t provide trial editions.) Once we have the design-time packages we automatically register them with your IDE. Brilliant solution, yes? (I hasten to add I bet many vendors use the same trick, it’s not like we’re the only ones.) Even with this compile-on-the-fly solution, our install is fairly chunky but is still WAY smaller than including all the precompiled DCUs, etc.

So, what’s this got to do with Delphi XE Starter? Well, one of the restrictions of the Starter editions is that dcc32.exe, the actual Delphi language compiler, can only be called from the IDE. Indeed, if you call it from the command line, it gives you this:


(Thanks to JD Mullin of Sybase for the image. It was he who alerted me to this whole situation at 6:30 this morning and I’m not going to let him forget it.)

So, the long and short of it is this: if you try and install our VCL Subscription into Delphi (or C++Builder) XE Starter, the installer will fail. It won’t install anything because nothing could be compiled to install.

24 comment(s)
Ulrich Gerhardt

Would it suffice to deliver project groups for the compilation and *.reg files for the component installation?

(I just checked my DX folder. There weren't any project groups for the packages.)

Best regards,


3 February, 2011
Michael Thuma

Julian ... It is interesting to see how good the communication works - I think they don't like you anymore:).

In my opinion it is ok to have the starter but on the other hand if someone is so rich that he can afford the devexpress controls he is not dependent on the Starter. In this case maybe provide a binary compiled Grid for starters but Starter should concentrate on Delphi and not on investigation tons of thirdparty components ... it is good to be in the position to install the GExperts, but what you describe is not a burning problem.

3 February, 2011

@Michael : I don't agree. Dcc32.exe is missing and not only DevExpress is using it for installing their product. Other VCL vendors are doing so, Open source project are doing so too... So why the hell did they remove it ?

3 February, 2011
Michael Thuma

Stephane ... this is about devexpress components ... and for devexpress components it is not a burning problem.

And finally it is not EMB's installer. We will not solve this issue at the devexpress blog.

The ready for CI environment is for me to an intresting point to address anyway. Why did they remove it? Because the compiler does not know that he is a Starter compiler - but I agree it is time for EMB to consider build servers and CI +1 for you.

3 February, 2011
Michael Schmidlkofer

I remember with the Turbo edition that there was a way to download the command line compilers from the CodeGear website for this kind of thing. I remember doing it to use the JCL installer.

I'm surprised that there is no command line support available.

3 February, 2011
David Intersimone 1

Embarcadero Delphi and C++Builder Starter Editions are for beginners, startups with no revenue yet, developers doing non-profit work for free, people who are starting a new career (perhaps they've been laid off in another industry), etc.

The Starter editions are not for working professionals that work for companies that can afford the Professional or Enterprise editions that come with command line tools, modeling tools, documentation generation and other Professional versions of our developer tools.

Looking at some of the comments above - I like the suggesiton from Michael Thuma that it would be cool to provide some "starter" components that are already compiled into packages ready to install for beginning programmers.

In the meantime, I am continuing to work with R&D to see if there is a solution for our technology partners that require additional tools that are part of our products for their installation/builds.

3 February, 2011
Julian Bucknall (DevExpress)

All, I got an email from Moz (Chris Mosley) just now. He points out that the open source JCL/JVCL libraries (a.k.a. Project JEDI) also rely on the "compile as you install" trick. So a great example of some excellent free components that, in theory, would be very attractive to users of the Delphi XE Starter edition but that are not installable.

Cheers, Julian

3 February, 2011
David Intersimone 1

We are encouraging all of our Delphi XE and C++Builder XE ecosystem partners to take advantage of this new developer opportunity and create lower priced starter component and tool sets to help beginners get started even faster.  Come join the software development fun.  Get started!

3 February, 2011
Jeff Weir

This got me thinking (oh no!): how does the installer work when someone purchases a licence without source code?

4 February, 2011
Michael Thuma

Something like this for hobbyists and starters would make some people happy if they just have decided for the starter and a video with the (new) manager for the VCL product lines you plan ... and a sticky note control ... that's it for the moment;).

Serious - maybe something tiny little will make people happy...

@Jeff: You can still install packages:), they did not exclude the linker.

4 February, 2011
Jeff Weir

Oops - I now see that Julian was specifically talking about the VCL Subscription...

7 February, 2011
Michael Thuma

Jeff: What I understand it that it not so easy for them to consider the Starter edition, because a hobbyist or retired programmer writing apps with one of the grids is a very lustly one. (I hope lustly is not XXX-rated ... hale is another word).

7 February, 2011
Jeff Weir

Michael: my original point was DevEx sells VCL components WITHOUT SOURCE so they a) either ship the source and delete it after compiling and installing or b) ship pre-compiled, ready to install packages.

That said i did re-read Julian's post and it specifically refers to the VCL Subscription. It always includes and is built from source because the size of the the install for all components compiled for all supported Delphi/C++Builder versions would be ridiculously large.

Is there still a point to be made? Yes. DevEx VCL Components purchased individually WITHOUT SOURCE should work with the Starter editions of Delphi/C++Builder XE.

8 February, 2011
Robert N Harris

This should be taken as a compliment to DevExpress. Embarcadero marketing people know that many people, who are professional delphi developers will be using require devexpress components. They are looking for an insurance policy to protect revenue.

10 February, 2011
David Brennan

I tend to agree that Embarcadero really need another solution. Delphi is a good language but it only reaches its true potential once you have installed some third party components like DevExpress so making this hard or impossible is a turn off.

I tried installing to Delphi 2010 trial a year ago so I could see whether there was any problems compiling and running our applications (currently in Delphi 2007) with Unicode. Of course in order to compile our applications I also needed to install DevExpress etc...

BUT the Delphi 2010 trial didn't include dcc32.exe so I was out of luck. I'm not manually compiling a couple of hundred packages so I just gave up, there was literally no real way for me to properly trial Delphi 2010 (in the end a sympathetic Embarcadero employee got the dcc32.ex file for me but it should NOT be this hard!).

10 February, 2011
Michael Thuma

Jeff, ok. b) is then the alternative.  I did not know that they sell without source code ... but never needed to investigate.

Jedi also already have. They are quick and there is a will.

I think the Starter Edition is for tinkering ... and I don't have the intention that devexpress products touch this corner ... so my little nice tiny for free was in this context.

If there is a demand from some people why not ...

10 February, 2011
Ryan McGinty

Isn't that the same as Visual Studio Express?  You can't really extend it with anything 3rd party if I recall (unless that was changed for 2010).  Actually, the fact that you can install precompiled is actually more relaxed than VS Express...

I see it as "you get what you pay for" and that is an acceptable limitation to a free "starter" IDE.  Embarcadero wants you to eventually BUY a copy of it, not use the starter forever!  The fact they increase the freedom over the Turbo editions is already a concession...

Now, as far as the lack of communication with DevExpress prior to lauch, uh, yeah, that is a ball that got dropped it seems...

10 February, 2011
Christian H

After I read the announcement of the starter edition I was also very enthusiastic because my product also relies on the dcc32 but after the dust settled and the (hidden) limitations were told, I was also very unhappy. That's one thing.

But the other thing is the obvious lack of communication skills of Emarcadero. If they don't even give their (valuable) component vendors a possibility to test drive their products on the stripped down Delphi, I must ask myself what the hell are they thinking about. They are not alone. Delphi's success depends a lot on the third party tools - aka - their "partners".

So the "junior partners" realized (again?) their role in that relationship - that's sad... But I can only hope that EMB learns from that bad press reactions because I love Delphi and want it to survive which means that I also need good third party components and the ones from DevEx are one of them.

11 February, 2011
Nicola Mugnato

Compiling libraries on install IMHO is the only *correct* way to install them, because they are compiled with the actual compiler and required dependencies (that can have been patched by an update, for example...) and no those on the developer's machine (or his build system).

Also projects like Indy, Jedi and so on can only release the code and don't get mad having to release precompiled libraries as well, and especially JCL/JVCL made a very good work in building their installers.

Frankly I can't see how including the command line compiler could change Starter feature set. Intersimone posts does not explain why it should be able to install easily an expensive library as long as it comes with precompiled files, and not an open source one that comes with sources only (beginners may have an hard time to install some without the installer).

They should explain exactly what the target is: beginners? Why make adding even some free libraries very complex? Experienced Delphi hobbyists? Why then the five network licenses? Startups? Why then hinder installing some commercial libraries? ExpressBars for example costs $199 and allows for better UIs than DelphI VCL alone. It's not so expensive to justify Intersimone post "if you can spend more money you should buy a Pro". Even a hobbyists could be more interested to spend $350 to write a better looking application than spending $1000 and get only the basic control and other stuff he may not interested in.

And IMHO it should be a concern for Emb to keep its best 3rd party vendor happy, because they are those who kept Delphi afloat in these years of slow development and lots of mistakes.

11 February, 2011
Jeff Weir

"And IMHO it should be a concern for Emb to keep its best 3rd party vendor happy"

i absolutely agree. there is a very real chance that the only reason some developers -  obviously Win32 desktop client developers - stick with Delphi/C++Builder is because of the components available from vendors like DevEx. It seems to me that someone that gets hooked on the ExpressQuantumGrid Suite for example is far more likely to licence RAD Studio Professional/Enterprise/Architect than someone who is content with TDBGrid.

13 February, 2011
Pieter Viljoen

As always, it remains difficult to do business with those responsible for Delphi. Whether they work for Borland, Codegear or Embarcadero. The same people just move companies. :(

Delphi Pascal has dropped from being 8% most used language to 1.5%

One of the major reasons for even considering Delphi at all, is because of the Dev Express components, which sadly, is only doing the minimum to maintain the VCL version.

11 March, 2011
Nicholas Cross

If they don't want to include the command line compiler for building applications, why can't they limit it in the starter edition so that it can only compile packages and not executables?  That way install processes installing component libraries would work but it can't really be used for anything else.

6 April, 2011
Ben van den Heever

Is this issue resolved by now? I have Delphi XE Starter and am trying to install DevExpress.



27 January, 2012
Julian Bucknall (DevExpress)

Ben: I would ask Embarcadero. We don't support the Starter editions for the reason I gave above.

Cheers, Julian

27 January, 2012

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