VCL Subscription — Performance Enhancements for Complex Forms in v23.2 & Other Reasons to Upgrade

VCL Team Blog
19 December 2023

Before I dive into the main topic, let me provide a few words about our VCL strategy in order to manage your expectations and also to clarify where lately most of our development resources are allocated and why . Our major v23.2 (check What's New) release continues our long-term VCL roadmap with a focus on High DPI support and SVG-based themes (which started with v23.1). 4K+ displays have become a de-facto standard due to low prices and the wide availability of such devices. Ultimately, we want VCL developers to be able to adapt to modern standards, in other words to have the ability to create modern-looking apps today.

Supporting High DPI or following Windows 11 and other modern developments does not mean only exchanging one skin element for another or squared corners for rounded ones. Our work in this regard also includes optimization of our rendering engine for performance and better maintainability in the future. These strategic or core investments of our team (along with stability, usability, better docs with code examples) will affect ALL of our VCL customers without exception (unlike smaller or niche features like a new option in the Gantt or Map control).

Of course, our strategy also includes quick wins like enhanced read-only style and behavior for data editors or larger enhancements like our new and beautiful charts or accessibility support, which impact hundreds of VCL devs vs dozens. I hope this better clarifies why we chose one feature over another in the last year or so or why we do not plan to invest into FMX again.

Noticeable Performance Enhancements to Skinned Forms in VCL v23.2

I want to start this with a quote from one of our long-term customers in his Support Center ticket, who has just upgraded from v23.1.6 to v23.2.3. Sadly, we cannot share his video showing the differences between versions side by side, but this is the case where you can take this customer's words for granted:

I would recommend to all DevExpress VCL users to upgrade to this version (v23.2), and not just because of Delphi 12 Athens support. It's a must have DevExpress version for any application with many "heavy forms", nested tabs, multiple grids, maps, docking panels, etc. (we have about 1K forms): everything is created and displayed in milliseconds now. Doesn't matter if new window is complicated or simple...UI and general performance is very important: it's the oldest dispatch system, we have 1000's features / windows since 1996, also it's "100% real time system", controlling Taxi Fleets / 100-1000 cars, GPS and all other communications.

Remember I was talking about our strategic focus on core things that affect all VCL customers instead of spreading resources on bells and whistles? This is definitely one of the tangible results of our strategy or focus. As the main tech lead on the VCL team, Constantine, joked: "Recent performance enhancements are just vitamin pills". Now, can you imagine it if we make a true "surgery" in 2024? :-).

One may argue and say that "performance is not a feature" or something that should be there by default - I certainly agree, and we try to live with that attitude ourselves (at least we are doing our best as human beings). As you may understand from your own particular experience, performance is something that also greatly depends on the number of moving pieces involved. Sometimes, you have to cut off some "fat" to be able to "fly" going forward (our recent example). Of course, for us it also means not breaking things for existing customers and old apps as much as we can - very difficult, but sometimes possible. Please vote in our survey at the end of this post to help us prioritize future development in this regard.

RAD Studio 12.0 Support in VCL v23.2

Quite simply: if you wish to develop with the latest RAD Studio 12.0 Athens IDE, then DevExpress VCL v23.2 is currently the version to use. It supports Delphi 12 and C++Builder 12 (both 32-bit and 64-bit).

Note that we could not support the new IDE in VCL v23.1, because of breaking changes in the VCL platform like this one or known issues with fonts like this one. There are certainly more differences in the VCL platform between 11.3 and 12.0, which we experienced when modifying our unit and other component tests. As you may gather, our main motivation here is to not break things in the late minor build and not to risk everything for a huge number of customers.

Numerous High DPI, Usability Bug Fixes and Other Enhancements in VCL v23.2

I can fully appreciate that some of our customers may not need our new SVG icons, our new skin selector, or even the chart control. However, overall quality is among the all-time values for most of our customers. 

Our VCL v23.2 release includes fixes for more than 100 issues, including usability and minor enhancements. We changed our internal procedures way back in 2022, resulting in a faster time to fix for bugs in key areas - I hope you noticed these changes during the past months.

Your Feedback Matters

Our What's New in v23.2 webpage includes product-specific surveys. Your response to our VCL survey questions will help us measure product satisfaction for features released in this major update.

The survey below will also help us refine our plans for our next major releases (v24.1-v24.2). Thank you very much.

Happy Holidays!
Dennis Garavsky
Principal Product Manager

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