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Discussions, news and rants from the CTO of DevExpress, Julian M Bucknall

VCL Roadmap news: Delphi 7 and 2007 support

We’ve just completed our Company Summit for 2014, where we all meet up, management and team leads alike, to discuss and formulate a plan for the following year. One of the results from this endeavor is our annual Roadmap, which we publish late December/early January. Prior to this being published – and rather than burying this news in the middle of what is going to be a large document – I wanted to call out a decision we made with regard to the DevExpress VCL Subscription.

Delphi RoadsignI’ve been saying for a while now that supporting Delphi 7 and Delphi/C++Builder 2007 is proving to be less and less viable. These older versions use shortstrings, have no modern language features, have issues with Windows Vista (!) and later (and I’ll put on my Microsoft PSA hat here and reiterate that Windows XP support is gone forever in April next year). And then I read Warren Postma’s excellent article he published a couple of days ago: “ Modernize your codebase: Inspiration to Ditch your Ancient Delphi Version”, which in essence cemented some of the feelings we have in supporting these older compilers.

We have in place plans for providing some major new controls and features for our VCL Subscription in 2014. It should come as no surprise that these features will be inspired directly from some of the new WinForms controls and improvements we’ve provided during 2013 (here’s a list of those, should you be interested – try and guess which ones we’ll be doing for VCL in 2014). The great thing about doing it this way is that the WinForms team have found all the design and platform issues and worked around them, meaning the VCL team can avoid them and produce equivalent controls more easily. As a quick example: consider pixel scrolling. We provided it for DevExpress WinForms and then we added it to DevExpress VCL – but the WinForms team had to work out all the nuances and problems.

But… the run-times are different (.NET is not VCL, C# is not Delphi) and so despite that there’s still quite a bit of work to do. There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch, and all that. Compounding that with the need to consider shortstrings, the lack of generics, rudimentary interface support, a less sophisticated IDE, and so on in order to support Delphi 7 or 2007, means that our workload increases dramatically to offer a new control for arguably not much benefit. We’d rather expend our time and resources to implement new functionality for the majority than to shoehorn in a new control into a 7 to 10-year-old compiler and run-time for the small number who are still on those platforms. Hence our decision:

From 14.1 onwards, all new controls and features published in the DevExpress VCL Subscription will only be for Delphi/C++Builder XE or later, whether 32-bit or 64-bit.

My strong recommendation is to upgrade to Delphi or C++Builder XE5 – Embarcadero do have some attractive upgrade discounts at the moment – for at least your new projects. I’d also move your older projects forward as well, but I recognize that many people are using pre-compiled libraries from now-defunct companies and can’t do so. Either way, if you do want to use these new 2014 controls you will have to use a more modern compiler and IDE.

Published Dec 13 2013, 01:41 PM by
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Comments

Jens Fudickar [DX-Squad]

I totally agree!

This solves a lot of problems!

Regards

Jens

December 14, 2013 7:54 AM

Dario Alvarez Arandda

I agree with you...but in my country a lot of people are using Delphi 7 and change to XE is not easy.

December 14, 2013 1:08 PM

Daniel Rail

I also totally agree!  

We are in the planning of migrating our Delphi 7 application to XE2.  The biggest part of the migration is changing the plugin architecture, especially with 75 plugins to convert, and the plugin component that we use is without source code and has some features that others don't have.  Also, the other big part is to reduce the variety of components that we are using, too many component sets over the years, and we are consolidating into just a few component sets and DevExpress is a major part of the components that we will be using, going forward.

December 14, 2013 1:51 PM

Martin Lawrence

Sounds reasonable to me that you concentrate development efforts on recent IDEs only.  I guess we can expect more 'good stuff' in 2014.  Keep up the great work.

December 15, 2013 2:37 PM

Mike F

Thank you for the straightforward announcement and very reasonable explanation.

December 15, 2013 2:57 PM

ma yz

Great!

December 16, 2013 3:31 AM

Darren Arblaster

I see your point; but a lot of people are still evolving/maintaining an 'old' product, hence unlikely to devote the time involved moving a client/server non-unicode D2007 application to XE5 for little benefit but a huge headache in dev time & testing.

In our case it would make more sense to go .net frankly and ditch Delphi altogether, perhaps this will be what we need to finally force our hand. At least your .net components will make our life easier in that aspect...

December 16, 2013 10:09 AM

Julian Bucknall (DevExpress)

Just to emphasize something I should have made clear before: we're not removing support for these older IDEs/compilers from the DevExpress VCL subscription (at least not yet), we're just not going to support them with new controls and features.

So, if you have a legacy app that for whatever reason you can't move to an XE-level compiler, that's fine, you'll still be able to compile it with 14.1, etc. You just won't be able to use, say, the new map control in that legacy app.

Oops, did I just reveal too much?

Cheers, Julian

December 16, 2013 12:52 PM

David Le Franc

Great new! :-)

December 16, 2013 3:45 PM

Iskandar Achmad

Map controls? yes!

I am agreed with you Julian.

I have some old projects that stilll use Delphi 2007, but for the new one we are going to use XE5.

VCL really need a new fresh components

December 16, 2013 9:39 PM

Darren Arblaster

Thanks for clarifying; but if you are excluding new features from the 'older' compilers, why on earth would somebody pay for a 14.1 subscription if they are using D2007?

December 18, 2013 6:04 AM

AndréFM

I believe most will agree with the decision.

Looking forward to see some nice dashboard controls (gauges, more chart options, etc) :-)

December 19, 2013 3:57 PM

Claudio Piffer 1

FINALLY!!! Great decision Julian!! I Agree with your decision at 100%

December 20, 2013 4:09 PM

Vladimir Ulchenko

as soon as devex stops releasing newer versions compiling with d7/rs2007 that will most likely be the end of my long-time affair with devex and I'll stop renewing my VCL subscription. my apps are NOT legacy, those have been evolving for about 15 years but I cannot afford to waste my time upgrading to newer (buggy) delphi/bcb versions bringing nothing more than lots of headaches for me. at least not before emb. produces decently working bcb version. I've been long time loyal supporting devex customer and now I'm VERY disappointed with your decision

December 23, 2013 8:26 AM

Wendel Silveira

great decision! I also totally agree!

January 6, 2014 9:53 PM

Ruediger Kabbasch

Late to the party, sorry.

I see it like V. Ulchenko described it. I also have to maintain several applications with millions of lines of code. Additional to that I have code from vendors that do not support the XE-versions of delphi, too (so I have to upgrade them on my own...).

I wonder if you plan to drop the subscription price now you can save work?

February 11, 2014 10:48 AM

About Julian Bucknall (DevExpress)

Julian is the Chief Technology Officer at Developer Express. You can reach him directly at julianb@devexpress.com. You can also follow him on Twitter with the ID JMBucknall.
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