RAD Studio XE2 – what we’re doing about supporting it and when

18 August 2011

If you’re one of our die-hard VCL customers, I dare say that you’ve already noticed the news coming out from Embarcadero about the next version of RAD Studio. David Intersimone and his band of Merry Developer Relations Men are on a tear at the moment, flying around the world, spreading the news about the new features.

Architectural plansAnd what great features they are too. There’s certainly a palpable sense of excitement in the Delphi air; more so than any previous new version for a while. I’ll certainly be playing around with it when I get a copy of the released version.

Naturally, we are starting to get some questions about what we are going to do with regard to this next version with our VCL subscription. Given that some of the finer details about XE2 are still under wraps, I shall have to be fairly circumspect and general at the moment.

Will DevExpress support compiling to 64-bit? Duh, yes, of course. The code already compiles and we’re in the midst of some rigorous testing. If you are old enough to remember (like I do!) you’ll recall the issues encountered going from 16-bit Delphi 1 to 32-bit Delphi 2. Sounds easy enough, but the devil is in the details. I’m going to predict that we will make the 64-bit capable code available as a beta before we actually release it. So if 64-bit floats your boat, buy Delphi XE2 and ask us for the beta when we announce it.

Will DevExpress support LiveBindings™? (This is the ability to “connect any visual element to any type of data”.) Still investigating. Obviously it would make sense if we can, but we do have an entire data controller layer already in place.

Will DevExpress support the new VCL styles? To be honest I doubt it; at least not in the initial version. We already have a full-featured robust skinning engine for VCL that we’ve been shipping for several years. Adding support for some other engine might bloat the code and at a minimum cause breaking changes.

Will DevExpress support FireMonkey™? This question is perhaps the hardest of all to answer definitively. First of all, some background. FireMonkey is the new cross-platform run-time for Delphi that allows developers to write code that can target both Windows and Mac OS X. It is not the VCL. It has been written from scratch to be able to use the GPU for speed and to target the two completely different operating systems. So, the first implication is that our controls, as written, will not compile with FireMonkey. We would have to rewrite them, especially since we use the Windows API directly and extensively (and that’s not going to work on the Mac). The other problem is that, to be perfectly sanguine, we’ve been down this path before. There is some history here—ancient it may be—but, like it or not, we have been badly affected by it. Consequently, we’re going to take a long term view for our support for FireMonkey. We will not support it immediately. Instead we will experiment to see what is involved in converting our controls to use it and will also monitor feedback and the market for it in order to make better informed decisions next year.

Does adding support for Delphi XE2 mean that DevExpress will drop support for an older compiler? Yes it will, and note that I already announced this in March. We will drop support for Delphi and C++Builder 2009 in v2011 vol 2 of the VCL subscription. By then we will have added support for RAD Studio XE2. Again, because it bears repeating: if you are using RAD Studio 2009, make plans to upgrade now.

To my mind, RAD Studio XE2 will be the version of RAD Studio to upgrade to. The IDE getting better every time, 64-bit support, the ability to do cross-platform development are all great reasons to upgrade. And, remember, if you have an active subscription for one or more of our VCL products, you will get our Delphi XE2 support for free as part of that subscription.

So, are you planning to move to XE2 given what you’ve heard from Embarcadero?

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