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Also posted on: The Norfolk Punt
I’ve always had a soft spot for Borland developer tools (in fact, I still have the manuals on my bookshelf). They are still around, even Delphi, being developed and modernised by Embarcadero, which acquired then when Borland went under.
The Borland tools are now part of RAD Studio and I took the opportunity to attend the RAD Studio XE7 Launch Event in London, recently (I believe there are some special offers around: check with Embarcadero). It was given by Stephen Ball, Product Evangelist and Associate Product Manager (InterBase)—as an aside, I have a soft spot for InterBase too, which was well ahead of its time when it first came out.
Embarcadero is now quite big: it was founded in 1993 and boasts some 3.2 million customers in 97% of the Fortune 2000, with over 500 employees in some 29 countries. Its portfolio includes data modelling and architecture, database management and optimisation, and rapid application development with RAD Studio (which, of course, complements the other 2 areas). RAD Studio supports multi-device, cross-platform, “True Native” development for Android, iOS, Windows and OSX.
I was impressed by what we saw of XE7 and Ball didn’t just follow the script (which meant that he responded to questions and kept things interesting—good—but had to skip a little bit). Basically, it is an improvement over XE6, especially for multi-core environments (which are the norm, these days, of course), with a new Object Pascal and C++ parallel programming libraries. Nevertheless, I think it doesn’t have as sophisticated tools for visualising parallelisation as Intel provides.
- FireUI, for platform-aware multi-device development (develop for one generic UI which automatically functions effectively on different devices; this is pretty cool);
- FireDAC for data access (said to be much faster than ADO);
- More support for Bluetooth ‘app tethering‘, and ‘wearables’ (although on the basis of what we saw, the wearable technology itself, nothing to do with Embarcadero, has a little way to go still); and the Internet of Things;
- Enterprise Mobility Services (EMS), a stateless, restful, scalable, and secure middleware solution with user management and authentication, and user and API analytics. It looks very interesting, if you are building standards-based, interconnected, distributed apps.
If you want to ‘build fast code faster’ and link and modernise existing Windows applications with Bluetooth and wearable gadgets, RAD Studio XE7 looks like a very good way to go. My only caveat is that it is a high-productivity coding environment; and that high-productivity model-driven development (with something like the OutSystems PaaS) might be even more productive. Different approaches for different kinds of developers, I think.