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Turbo Delphi!

Yeehah! Turbo returns! I got a call from Borland's David Intersimone late last week, and we spoke for quite awhile, certainly at more length than we have in ten or twelve years. The big news is that Borland is introducing a line of new, single-language, single-platform IDE/compiler packages under the Turbo brand:

  • Turbo Delphi for Win32
  • Turbo Delphi for .NET
  • Turbo C++
  • Turbo C#

Each package will list for under $500, with student pricing under $100.

This would be very cool all by itself, but the wilder part of the announcement is that each of the four products will also be available as a free download, under the Turbo Explorer moniker. The Explorer editions are the full product with one limitation: The component palette is fixed, and additional components cannot be installed.

Nonetheless, the palette supplied with the Turbo Explorer editions contains over 200 components, including WebSnap, the Indy Internet components, and virtually all the others that Delphi developers are used to seeing. That's a helluva deal, heh—especially for people who program for fun, or who write relatively simple utilities to massage data or support their work in other ways.

Borland has set up a Web site specifically for the Explorer editions, at www.turboexplorer.com. Both the Professional Editions and the Explorer Editions will be available before the end of Q3 of this year. They're working with schools to get the Turbo languages onto the curriculum (especially Turbo C#) and will be encouraging publishers to bring out new books focusing on the Turbo products. (Am I working on one? Can't tell you yet...but wouldn't it be wild to have The Turbo Delphi Explorer Explorer?)

I also asked David about the spinoff of the developer tools products into a new company distinct from Borland. The process is moving along, and we should know more by early fall. Everybody involved is chomping at the bit, since it's by now pretty clear that Delphi, C++, and C# are only the first Turbo languages, and will not be the last. David didn't get real specific, but he asked me what languages I would want to see added to the Turbo lineup. My first choice would be PHP, and my second...assembly, both Win32 and .NET. We'll see what they do.

If you asked me what this was going to do to Borland, or programming generally, my first reaction would simply be: It's gonna make programming fun again, in a way it hasn't been in what seems like a very long time. Back in the mid-1980s, anybody who had $50 could have Turbo Pascal, and we all had a marvelous time, even without the Internet. People who wouldn't have taken a shot at programming if the cost of entry were $400 were tinkering up interesting little things, having fun, and learning a lot. Twenty years later, dare we hope that we can do it again?

I do. Put Delphi in the hands of tends of thousands of bright kids (even middle aged ones) and magic will happen. This time, the wand is free. (I may finally learn C#!)

Comments

Oooh... Turbo Ruby would be perfect. Have you checked out Ruby? It's got the good bits of Perl and LISP without too much of the nasty syntax. I consider myself a whiz-bang PHP programmer, but I'd move to Ruby in a second if it weren't so poorly documented -- and its libraries are still a bit sparse.

Yep, I'm looking forward to the new Delphi. I may even shell out for the Professional version, despite being mostly a web dev nowadays.

But there's one big limitation: quoting the PC Week article:

Note, though, that you can only install one of the four product types on a given machine; if you need to use multiple languages, Borland figures you're a candidate for the higher-end Borland Developer Studio product.

Of course, I can think of a Very Meaningful Way Around that REquirement...

(Anonymous)

Limitation?

Yes, VMs are an excellent workaround for the limitation. Even acceptable by Borland.

It's really just a limitation for the Explorer (free) versions though. If you're going to buy 2 languages of Turbo Pro, it'll be about the same price as Borland Developer Studio Pro, which comes with all four languages.

IMHO, it is a limitation with the architecture of BDS. You can't install two different editions of BDS (like Pro and Enterprise) on the same machine. Providing this capability would have required significant changes to the IDE's architecture and not worth the gain.

Re: Limitation?

So the price of the full package is coming down from the current $mortgage-your-children price tag? That's a good thing then.

Definitely looking forward to it now. September brings many things: the new season of Battlestar Galactica, some slightly warmer weather, and now Turbo Delphi. Shiny!

(Anonymous)

Re: Limitation?

> So the price of the full package is coming down from the current $mortgage-your-children price tag?

I don't expect it's changing, as it's pretty fair value as it stands if you want more than one language to work with. $1090 gets you BDS2006 "Professional", with Delphi W32, Delphi .Net, C++, C#.

The enterprise and architect editions are pricier, but with those you're really paying for the bundled products like intraweb, starteam, which each cost $$$ on their own.

(Anonymous)

Re: Limitation?

"would have required significant changes to the IDE's architecture"

Borland is a founding member of the Eclipse Foundation (www.eclipse.org). IDE changes *will* be significant in these releases, but it basically comes "for free" to the developer.

http://www.borland.com/us/company/news/press_releases/2005/02_28_05_borland_amplifies_eclipse_support.html

Brant

(Anonymous)

Academic Edition Paradox?

Or Turbo Python. Bruce Eckel once asked Borland to consider this.

http://community.borland.com/article/0,1410,30139,00.html

I am currently a user of Borland Delphi 6.0 Academic Edition. I think at best the free Turbo Explorer editions will serve as non-expiring demos rather than be of any use since I need my "Python for Delphi".
http://mmm-experts.com/Products.aspx?ProductId=3

Academic edition of BDS 2006 is about $100. The price is the same for the Turbo products. Why should anyone pay the same price for a smaller piece of the product unless ofcourse BDS Academic ceases to exist.

(Anonymous)

re: Turbo Delphi!

Yes, this is exciting to me, too, but for a slightly different reason. I've been using the professional (and sometimes the enterprise) version of C++ Builder right along and now have the full-blown Borland Developer Studio which includes Delphi (Win32 and .NET), C++ (Win32) and C# (.NET). So, I don't need the Turbo versions but it gets me excited about the company again. It definitely was the "right thing to do" and it gives me new hope that the spun-off DevCo will be a responsive, energetic company that will provide us with well crafted tools into the future. I have never been so productive since I first started using C++ Builder and then Delphi.

Jim Dodd
Onset Computer Corporation

(Anonymous)

C# in schools

> "They're working with schools to get the Turbo languages onto the curriculum (especially Turbo C#)"

This is great news. I do hope they work to put Turbo Delphi in schools too, though...!

(Anonymous)

Audio comment?

Jeff, is it possible to leave an audio comment?

I'm typing 'yee-hah!' but it doesn't do justice to how excited I am on hearing this news.

Vince

(Anonymous)

You may finally learn C#!

That will be your second chance to learn it! There used to be a free edition of Borland C# builder (aka BDS 1.0) somewhere about 2003. I actually used it to learn C#.

(Anonymous)

Turbo madness

Jeff - Boy - don't think I've run into your name in years - suddenly there is a Turbo brand again and there you are -
it's great news isn't it. My clients were starting to treat it as a joke that I give them source code - what good is it thr source is free but the compiler costs a fortune? Lemme ask ya - does the explorer product have a command-line compiler?

I'd love to see a Turbo javascript environment - I've seen a bunch of javascript debuggers and development tools, but none that equal a borland ide.

Re: Turbo madness

No word yet on whether the Turbo Explorer packages will have a command line compiler interface, but my guess is that if the Professional packages do, then the Explorer packages do. We'll know soon.

Other people have suggested a Turbo AJAX IDE, and that would be killer, at least for those who favor AJAX. I'm still a little skeptical, but done well, AJAX apps can be impressive. Borland would be nuts not to at least do the research and see what it would take.

BTW, I'll review the Turbo Delphi product in this space, and on my conventional blog at www.duntemann.com/Diary.htm.

(Anonymous)

but will the spirit be Turbo?

I'm encouraged by the revival of the Turbo brand, and I hope it will live up to the implications, and not be a short-lived experiment. Even more, I hope this indicates that DevCo has the spirit of the barbarians of old, and none of the taint of Inprise.

But what I would love to see, frankly, is Jeff Duntemann reshaping the DevCo docs, which have become pretty sad. IMHO, the high point was the TP4 manual, which I devoured, cover to cover, in a three day blitz. Much of the recent documentation has been most useful in dodging insomnia. And the help files are worse.

But I am trying to remain positive about this, and would like to believe that this release announcement also implies that the soon to be announced buyer is in agreement with the Turbo approach.

Re: but will the spirit be Turbo?

If I do a book on the new product line, it will be on Turbo Delphi Explorer. (A couple of people have asked me if it will be called The Turbo Delphi Explorer Explorer, but I don't think so.) Given that the Explorer edition doesn't come with printed docs, having a print book would be something like having me do some doc for it.

As I said in another comment downstream, much depends on whether I can make it generate any money. Writing a book takes a lot of time, and I can't just spent six months on something and not see a nickel.

That said, I'll admit I'm scoping out an interesting kind of book that would be a lot of fun to do, if slightly problematic in a couple of ways, just like my old Delphi Explorer books. I have to see the product before I can tell if it would work, but it would be an interesting thing to try.

(Anonymous)

Re: but will the spirit be Turbo?

Well, another book from you would certainly make it all more interesting.

Looking at the old Philippe Kahn video they dusted off for the Turbo pages, I found myself thinking what a hoot it would be if PK were behind the buyout. There might indeed be hope!

Re: but will the spirit be Turbo?

Interestingly, Philippe sent me a "Hi, howarya!" message a few months aqo, and he said he had an interesting project in the cooker but gave no least clue as to its nature. I think it's unlikely that he will be a big part of the venture...but sheesh, I would love to be proven wrong!

(Anonymous)

Re: but will the spirit be Turbo?

I just love hearing about this spin-off. Its like the Developers in Borland weren't allowed to be creative as they were expected to report to Wall Street with earnings info every 5 mins. But this whole DevCo spinoff certainly breathes life back into the glory days.

I wouldn't be surprised if DevCo = Turbo Co and I'd LOVE to see PK back in the saddle. I was there throughout the 80s and anyone who can bolster the level of vision and enthusiasm has my vote. Bring it on!!!!!

(Anonymous)

Turbo Delphi with a twist!

After some thinking I kind of stood on my head with my feet in the air.

Since there is a Delphi for Win32 and a Delphi for .NET, wouldn't it be great with a Delphi that generate instructions for the Java Virtual Machine?

(Anonymous)

Turbo Explorer

Well, the website says the products are available but none of the download links are working...???

Re: Turbo Explorer

Well, if they did try to open those download links, my guess is that no server on Earth could have carried the load for the first few hours. (They should have seeded some torrents, and I think that whether authorized or not, the Turbo Explorers will soon be available via BitTorrent.) I guess all we can do is keep watching. I'll report here as soon as I've acquired the Turbo Delphi Explorer binary and have installed it.

(Anonymous)

Turbo Explorer - Too little too late.

Too little too late. Most serious Delphi programmers have moved on to Java or C#. Yeah, Delphi was great but it's about as relevant now as PL1 or SNOBOL. The problem is Borland has never been a very focused company. No one would ever code a long term project on such a shaky foundation.

Re: Turbo Explorer - Too little too late.

Judging by my mail, it's a lot more relevant than that. The problems people are having with the new Turbo Delphi mostly cook down to not being able to load existing projects from older versions that use third-party components--that, and the cogent argument that the price for the single language, single target products is still too high.

Delphi is still just the ticket for "occasional programmers" who gen up small utilities to do custom data analysis work or things similar. The Java API set is chaotic, and C# takes some significant learning before you can be as productive as you can with Delphi in a couple of hours. No one language can do everything for everyone. (I thought we accepted the truth of that twenty years ago!)

The problems here aren't with relevance, but with the details of the implementation.

Turbo Technix

First I'm upset.

I get spam from every corner of the world, but I got no emails from Borland when they did this. I tripped over turboexplorer.com accidentally, and I didn't know if it was for real.

So I asked some fellows in the Graphics32 community what they thought. They had snide responses like "only get Turbo Delphi if you want a better IDE with a more robust runtime."

So there. I'm the last guy on the planet to know... and I've vented.

Next step: I do a google search for "Turbo Delphi Books" - and up pops Jeff's LJ! How cool is that!

Write anything you want, Jeff. I'll buy it, read it, and love it.

I got the same goosebumps that I got back when $59 could buy Turbo Pascal. A similar excitement to when Delphi debuted. I just make cool Win apps. I can't spell .NET (although I'm secretly hoping someone as lucid as Jeff will explain it). For me, Turbo Delphi is exciting!

Turbo Delphi is my next purchase after I finishing my current projects in Delphi 5 and 7.

(Anonymous)

Re: Turbo Technix

The fact that you can't create your own components, add packages and edit the editor key enhancements (I like to customize my keyboard), makes the Turbo line seem "gimicky" to me. Part of the skill set of a Delphi programmer component writing. Without it, you can't really call yourself a "Delphi programmer".

Aside from Turbo, the next available option for a Delphi programmer is to "mortgage your house and children's college fund" and buy "Delphi Professional" (which I think is over a THOUSAND DOLLARS now! -- more than double the price of a new computer!). Furthermore, if you want to use it on two computers, you have to buy TWO LICENSES!! (and spend almost the price of a used car!). My wife would never let me spend that on a compiler for home use!!

I only wish Borland (CodeGear?) would learn a lesson from Sun MicroSystems. They offer, free of charge, a full-featured Java development system (NetBeans), complete with everything you can do in Java and Swing. The result? They're cranking out a world full of skilled Java developers who can download it for free and learn it. When companies decide which tools to use, they're going to go where the skilled developers are! They then will buy computers and professional development tools from Sun, which is where the real money is made. Smart marketing strategy!

After 2000 (Delphi 7?), Borland no longer offered a viable, affordable-priced "home" edition of their development suite. Delphi 7 "home" didn't even have database components, and now "Turbo" Delphi can't create components. What a shame! During that same time (from about 2002 to 2006), the number of young professionals with Delphi skills has gone to almost zip, and Delphi jobs on Monster.com and Dice.com have dropped from 11% to 0.8% of market share!

Today, nearly 35% of jobs on Monster.com are Java jobs. Interesting!