After doing some further investigation it seems that the cross-platform support for Delphi has yet again been moved up to a next release. The fact that Embarcadero wants to wait for them to fully stabilize the product before releasing it is certainly an admirable thing to do, but it does bring up some questions…
So what does this mean for RAD Studio XE? We’ve seen 2 previews so far, it shows us some nice new features, a lot of integrations of 3rd party applications to make coding more convenient. However, a lot of these applications are limited because they have a paying version, yet there’s barely any or no details on how this is dealt with in RAD Studio. Another somewhat big concern is whether this release is actually worth purchasing when updating from RAD Studio 2010. So far we have seen no actual new Delphi language features being previewed, all that remains is a bunch of new tools in the IDE of which now part only seem to be added to somewhat bulk up the product and make it appear as more than just a bugfix release. Personally I’m waiting for some details on language features, however i must admit that the addition of RadPHP makes the product somewhat more appealing as it had to be purchased separately previously and since the initial release as Delphi for PHP, RadPHP seems to have matured quite a lot.
It seems Embarcadero has also released a new roadmap, though there’s very little communication from the company about why the cross-platform support was moved up or even that it was, it clearly shows on the new roadmap that was released just 6 days ago. The cross-platform support has been jumping around a lot on the roadmap since it was initially announced, but it seems they have now finally brought everything together in a release named project “Pulsar”, which I assume will be Delphi 2012. The release promises to include x64 support for windows applications and the inclusion of cross-platform compiling for 32-bit mac applications, only for Delphi however. The release has no mentioning of Linux support which previously vanished from the roadmap, however it has reappeared in the Wheelhouse release, however note that they carefully refer to the Linux support as support for Linux servers which might suggest it will not support GUI applications. This release will also bring the cross-platform and x64 support to the other RAD Studio products, mainly C++ Builder of course.
It seems to be clear Embarcadero wants to have the product catching up with competing products with the Commodore release, which will feature full 32- and 64-bit support for all platforms. However, when counting the number of projects it would suggest this being part of Delphi 2014. Even though they are certainly making an effort, it seems Embarcadero is once again dropping the ball here as they are already losing many (potential) customers because they do not support 64-bit and cross-platform at the present time, certainly 64-bit support will also become more pressing in the future as gradually more and more platforms are moving over to 64-bit. Will there be a market left for them when they finally catch up with the current day products of their competitors in 3 years from now?
An interesting item that I’m coming across a few times on the roadmap is the considered addition of a cross-platform VCL library. Originally this item was part of the roadmap as a somewhat standard item included with cross-platform support. However it seems that currently they are only considering to add this. How will this affect the cross-platform support? As I mentioned before they are saying that they will only include Linux server support into the Wheelhouse release, that would certainly require no GUI, so a cross-platform VCL library would not be required. However, for the Mac support you would want to be able to build visual applications. When they say they might not include a cross-platform VCL library, I’m guessing this means they intend to add a custom Mac-only library for compiling to Mac, personally i find the thought of this somewhat horrifying, the reason people are so eager to get cross-platform support is obviously to compile their applications to multiple platforms, having more than 1 visual component library needed to do so will obviously complicate things a lot. Because of this I am certainly expecting they will eventually move this feature over to the actual plans for one of the releases.