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.
I’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.