Delphi 64-bit Compiler Preview

Ever since Embarcadero has been in charge of Delphi’s development, they have made great strides to bring the language back from the brink of death. From the start they have therefor also been developing a 64-bit compiler for Delphi, which unfortunately has been postponed for quite some time. I can’t really blame them, if the product isn’t finished, there’s no point in releasing it, it would only make matters worse, but now, finally they have started giving Beta testers access to the 64-bit compiler preview.

As usual, also with this new compiler, Embarcadero has dedicated huge efforts towards keeping backwards compatibility as much as possible. This results in the face that most old Delphi code will still compile with this 64-bit compiler. The size of Integers, Int64, and most other datatypes have gone unchanged. However, NativeInt for example has the size of the integer on the system you’re on. Pointers on 64-bit are also 8 bytes, but as long as you always use SizeOf or similar methods that don’t rely on specifying a size of a datatype manually, your code should work in 64-bit. If you have any dependencies on dll libraries or activex components, these will have to be upgraded to 64-bit versions as well of course.

The final edition of the 64-bit compiler should be included in the next release of Delphi, the XE2 release. In XE3 the compiler will also compile code from C++ builder into 64-bit applications and libraries. Alongside the 64-bit compiler, Embarcadero also promises to include a cross-platform compiler in RAD Studio XE2 which can compile 32-bit applications to Mac OSX and possibly Linux. The additions of these new features may finally revitalize the interest of developers in this language as most other mainstream language already have at least in some way the ability to compile to 64-bit platforms and platforms other than MS Windows.

You can sign up to get into the beta program for the 64-bit compiler, if you have a license to RAD Studio XE, Delphi XE or ToolCloud, you may get priority access to the beta.


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RAD Studio XE

I visited the launch event for RAD Studio XE in Brussels yesterday, we got a 4 hour presentation about the new features in RAD Studio XE including a set of demos and there was some very tasty Delphi Cake. The cake wasn’t a lie…

I’m going to give you a small summary of what’s new in RAD Studio XE.

What does XE stand for? It stands for Heterogeneous Embarcadero and Toolcloud Enabled. All Embarcadero products will now be named XE, next year RAD Studio 2012 will be named RAD Studio XE 2 and so on.

A lot of focus now goes out to the Embarcadero All-Access product which allows you to access all Embarcadero products instantly including older versions of the products for testing backwards compatibility of your code. All-Access allows you to run these products without installing them and they run using a sort of visualization technology so it’s completely sandboxed.

For the future Embarcadero plans to create a new Delphi compiler which will be more flexible and will be easier to adapt to other platforms. Aside from that they plan to create a new better VCL library, move EDN up to the next level using new modern technologies and more. The x64 and xPlatform support that was going to be in RAD Studio XE has been moved up to the next release because it simply was not ready for release, so that’s certainly something to look out for.

“We do not want to publish another Delphi 8.”

Embarcadero is currently also working on a “Starter” edition of RAD Studio/Delphi which will be free or available for a low price, targeting students and hobbyists.

Inside the IDE we find the new Subversion integration as one of the main new features. It allows you to easily add a project to subversion and work with it, the IDE will only commit files you actually need to have in your repository, being the source files, dfm files, etc… The entire subversion integration has been open-sourced in the open tools api which allows 3rd party developers to modify or even add support for other version control systems into the IDE, however this is not done by default as Subversion is the most popular version control system available today. Subversion support is available in all products in RAD Studio including Delphi Prism. Another addition is improved support for code formatting. The code formatting has been improved upon and now works with profiles which you can import/export so you can format on a project-basis. You can now also format an entire project at once. Command-line support for the formatter has now also been included. A small addition to the form designer is that you now have the ability to copy a form and paste an image of it in for example paint. A last addition that was discussed is the ability to rename threads in the threads debugging view.

The Delphi language itself has gotten no extra additions, only the VCL library has gotten a few improvements and generics have been tweaked further. Embarcadero has however put a lot of effort in making C++ Builder comply with the ISO standards for the language.

UML support in Delphi has been extended, most people do not use the UML integration, but it is quite extensive, it can automatically reverse engineer your project and create an UML diagram for it, you can also add classes and more to your project from the UML diagrams. You now have the ability to generate sequence diagrams of your code in UML which allows you to visually inspect how your code works. Aside from this you can now also easily add ancestors of your classes to the diagrams.

The main focus of the XE release is the DataSnap technology and the newly added support for cloud computing with Windows Azure and Amazon EC2. It is now possible to create DataSnap servers in C++ Builder. Clients can be created in Delphi, C++ Builder, RadPHP, and so on. Extra wizards to create web servers have also been added to the program and the REST protocol for communication between server and client. Furthermore the Windows Azure support is component based, which will allow you to easily interact with the Windows Azure cloud. The cloud computing support for Azure is also very powerful and will let you easily execute functions inside of your server that is running in the cloud from clients as if they were running locally.

I’ll be receiving my own copy of RAD Studio XE Professional in a few days and will share my thoughts about it then.

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RAD Studio XE Preview #3

Today Embarcadero released the 3rd and final preview of RAD Studio XE, the preview shows the new ability to generate DataSnap servers in C++ Builder, connectivity to DataSnap servers from C++ Builder, Delphi and RadPHP, the new support for Microsoft Azure cloud computing and more. I’m don’t use most of these technologies myself so I won’t go into detail about them.

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RAD Studio XE Preview #2

The 2nd RAD Studio XE preview has been released today! After viewing it I find myself a bit disappointed as there is still no mentioning of the cross-platform compiling which was the most anticipated feature of the product. Although there has been no video release of the #3 preview yet which is planned for the 24th, they did already release details on what it’s about, still no mentioning of cross-platform though.

Embarcadero has been building a lot of 3rd party applications into RAD Studio XE, in the 1st preview they already showed the integration of 3rd party difference software and now they’ve added Raize CodeSite, a piece of logging software from their technology partner Raize Software which develops Delphi components and tools, the AQTime profiler and FinalBuilder. The upside to doing this integration is the obvious fact that they don’t have to develop their own versions of these products from scratch but instead can use finished products that have already gone through a lot of releases making them very stable en reliable. The downside is that most of these products are somewhat limited in use unless you purchase their extended versions.

What drew my attention mostly in this preview was the addition of FinalBuilder, it allows you to schedule automated builds. As i understand it, it has been integrated into all of the RAD Studio products which will enable you to create automated builds very easily.

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Embarcadero RAD Studio XE

So like a lot of people out there, I’ve been anxiously waiting for the next Embarcadero RAD Studio. Many will agree that since the 2009 release, the product has made great leaps forward. There’s been a lot of secrecy around the newest version 2011 though. The main component of the product, Delphi was codenamed Fulcrum and a few but barely any details were leaked about the project, however, the intention was to include cross-compiling support for Mac OSX and Linux in this release. I personally would have preferred they had gone for x64 support first, but I suppose cross-platform would be nice as well. However fairly soon they updated their roadmap and they had split off the Linux support from this release, leaving in only support for Mac OSX. On the 13th of August they finally released a first sneak peak of some of the new features in RAD Studio XE, which they had named it rather than 2011. I’m however somewhat disappointed to say that there was not the slightest mention of cross-platform compiling in this sneak peak. On the 17th they will release the next in a series of 3 previews, so I guess we better wait for those.

So what’s new in RAD Studio XE?
I’m not going to include an entire feature list here, you can find most of these on the preview page, however I must say I’m personally very excited about 2 additions to RAD Studio. The first of which is subversion support. A lot of people using other VCS systems like Hg, Git and CVS will probably feel a bit left out here, but subversion is one of the most popular ones out there, it will be quite nice to have it tied into the work environment. The second thing that really got my attention was that they finally included “Delphi for PHP”, now named RadPHP in RAD Studio. Up until now Delphi for PHP has remained a separated product, but this new generation of the product which seems to have made tremendous progress has now been included in RAD Studio, making the RAD Studio package an even sweeter deal. RadPHP’s VCL features a lot of great components with even FaceBook support.  We’ll probably find out more in 2 days when the next preview has been released, but even though most people will be disappointed not to find any details on the cross-platform support, for a first preview it seems like they made a lot of progress since the last release.

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