I received my license for RAD Studio XE yesterday and I was quite excited to take a look at RadPHP XE. I had not formerly tried Delphi For PHP 1 and 2 and honnestly, I haden’t heard any good things about them either.
A first thing I noticed was that RadPHP does not come as a part of RAD Studio itself. Though the product does integrate into the IDE flawlessly, it is not accessible from RAD Studio itself, neither is it included in the RAD Studio installer. You have to download RadPHP separately and open it separately from the main RAD Studio IDE.
As advertised by Embarcadero, the RadPHP experience feels very much like working with Delphi, it uses the same layout, you create projects the same way etc. The most noticeable projects are the Facebook application and RPCL application. Both of these use the RadPhp Component Library.
When creating a new project some of the differences quickly become obvious. As expected your form designer does not show a form, rather a page, with the same grid layout. The tool palette has a fairly large selection of available components of which many look very familiar. However, this is the point some things started to disappoint me. Though Embarcadero has certainly succeeded at creating a very convenient way to create PHP applications, there’s several things I’m certainly missing. Components do not come with properties like Align, Anchors, Margins and more. A lot of innovative VCL features that were added after Delphi 7 like the ability to use imagelists for buttons are also nowhere to be found in RadPHP. Overall I would say, even though the experience is similar to working with Delphi, the product still has some issues that should be addressed.
RadPHP does seem to have some interesting features nonetheless, such as integration of several 3rd party APIs like Google Maps, the Facebook API, jQuery, etc… Though I would like to have seen some additional Google APIs in there. The product currently seems mostly targeted at the development of Facebook applications.
One thing I checked for was if it came with an OpenTools API like RAD Studio itself, and it does, so it is extensible, maybe we will see some interesting 3rd party tools appearing in the future.
A final thing worth mentioning is that none of the new tools added to RAD Studio such as BeyondCompare are not integrated into the RadPHP IDE, neither is the subversion integration. This may be the result of having installed RadPHP after RAD Studio, but I doubt that is the case.
After having a first look at RadPHP I would have to say it seems it was just added to RAD Studio to have an additional feature in the package. However, with some work it could become a very powerful development tool and hopefully it will in the future.