Borland goes RAD for app lifecycle

Delphi developer Paul Hectors is considering switching to Microsoft Visual Studio but is waiting for Borland to release Delphi for .Net before he makes the decision.

Delphi developer Paul Hectors is considering switching to Microsoft Visual Studio but is waiting for Borland to release Delphi for .Net before he makes the decision.

Hectors, who works for Powershield, a developer of battery monitoring software, believes Visual Studio is a superior development environment to Delphi but hopes and expects that Delphi for .Net will be better still.

Last week Borland rapid application development (RAD) product executive Simon Thornhill was in New Zealand pitching the next Delphi tool, which is due out early next year. So why would a developer use Delphi for the .Net platform and not Microsoft’s own suite?

Hectors says his main reason for staying with Borland thus far is its platform independence.

“It’s the Switzerland of developing, whereas Microsoft has a tendency to make you stick with what they’ve got.”

Hectors wants to take his applications to the .Net platform and expects backwards-compatibility, something Borland has promised.

Apart from being more independent than Microsoft, Borland will provide a more integrated approach to application development, thus speeding up the whole process, says Thornhill.

In the past Borland has looked at the development part of building applications as opposed to the complete application life cycle -- ie getting the business requirements of the application, the design phase, development, testing and deployment.

“Several years ago Borland took the traditional elements of programming such as compilers and pulled them together to made an integrated development environment (IDE). It then provided a component library on top of that to give RAD.

“Now we’re saying development has been sped up, but the application life cycle covers more than just development, so now it’s looking at accelerating the complete application life cycle.”

To do this Borland has acquired four companies this year:

  • VM Gear provides tools for maximising performance in managed code environments such as the java and .Net platforms. It already has Optimizeit for java and a .Net tool is understood to be in development.
  • BoldSoft has Bold, a toolset that automatically carries the modelling of an application through to the actual coding of the application.
  • Starbase provides team development tools and solutions.
  • TogetherSoft which has ControlCenter, a software development collaboration and modelling tool that enables software developers to coordinate development efforts.
Borland has already incorporated Bold into Delphi 7 to link the modelling and development phases of application development.

“Typically an architect sits down with modelling tools and models the application in a unified modelling language [UML] designer. Then the developers take that model, interpret it and write the code. There’s a disconnect between the two so that the code doesn’t always end up doing what the modeller intended.

“Now in Delphi 7 the model created in the UML designer is driven through to the development phase. It automatically generates classes, objects and logic, and persists them in a database. It will also control object interaction and build a rudimentary user interface based on the model.

Thornhill says the architect can use any standard UML -- it doesn’t have to be Bold -- and developers can take control at any time and develop the logic themselves.

“It accelerates those phases and improves the quality of the code while reducing the cost of application development. It’s also an advantage in maintaining applications because requirements always change and you have to continually update.”

Hectors says he has seen very positive comments about Bold on the newsgroups but says it’s very well adding bells and whistles. He just wants the core Delphi language to be improved.

Thornhill admits Microsoft has some products similar to those it has acquired. “But we are particularly focused on taking these pieces and using them to accelerate the complete application life cycle. They’re not concentrating on putting it all together.”

Thornhill says most customers he speaks to say they’re going to have some java and some .Net in their development platform.

“Enterprise application development want to be able to provide solutions that integrate with their enterprise infrastructure. Not every shop has MS SQL Server or wants to use MS IIS. We will provide a way to integrate into what ever source code management tool or UML you use – Rational Rose or what ever.”

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