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Where My Delphi Life Began – via David Millington and Simon Stuart #DelphiWeek

Posted by jpluimers on 2015/02/14

Marketing blast of the past via David Millington – Google+.

I got most of the Delphi versions from D2-D6 on PC Plus magazine cover CDs, an English magazine also published in Australia. I wouldn’t be here now if I hadn’t had access to those free copies of Delphi when I was a kid.

and this one:

It came with a promotional copy of Borland Delphi… and unlike other “promotional” software often distributed on the cover disks of popular computer publications at that time, this one had absolutely no restrictions and was fully functional.

From a really nice article by Simon Stuart.

Who thought that he was ever at the Basic side of things (:

And of course it ends with correct Delph-ee pronunciation to be right: the community at large has spoken.

Given this week went very different than I anticipated, here is a much shorter story than I hoped for. I’ll focus on the early days, you can read on the later and current days here on my blog.

My own early Delphi life

For me, my Delphi life has been pretty straight forward. It started with the early days and Turbo Pascal leading to Delphi.

The Turbo Pascal days

I already wrote about my early programming days where I learned Turbo Pascal at school around the age of 14. I admit that back then not all copies were ehm “boxed”. Most of them actually came through the university channels (but technically I wasn’t a student yet).

A few years ago, I wrote about my university and early BBS/fidonet/email period as well (with gMail on a VAX/VMS being an alias for Gold Mail) which started my programming career as well: I’ve been an independent software developer since 1989 (the Dutch Trade Register keeps records for a long time).

I didn’t mention my Fidonet Pascal.028 and Fidonet Pascal activity, did write about my email and compuserve activity but forgot to mention one of my first Public Domain tools written in Turbo Pascal for Windows: the Shoot! screen capture tool.

My email activity got me into contact with lots of interesting people all around the world, like Peter Sawatzki from Germany.

Note this was back when the Internet wasn’t called as such, there was EARN (now TERENA) in Europe interconnected with BITNET in the USA. Tools were like LISTSERV for mailing lists, BITNET Relay a.k.a. Inter Chat Relay Network and TRICKLE file distribution by email – hello UUENCODE! – the SIMTEL20 software archive and lots more.

The email combined with my CompuServe activity (way before the Google indexing days) got me into contact with the Borland R&D team and TeamB members. That was about a year before the Borland/Turbo Pascal 7 launched and shortly before I started working for Bolesian (yes, Bob Swart and me were colleagues there). I left Bolesian because a combination of software development lead wanting me to move from a Pascal gig to a C++ gig and the company got acquired almost over night by a huge firm turning the employees from a vibrant bunch into grey numbers practically over night. Within 3 months after I left, the core of Bolesian quit and formed Everest (now part of TSS) saving the unique aspects of the team.

I took Peter Sawatzki to the 1992 Turbo Pascal 7 launch event in Frankfurt (it was the first time we met in person after having had email contact for years) where we had a really nice chat with Anders Hejlsberg (I keep using all the tools and platforms he helps creating) and Zack Urlocker.

That was also the time when the Language Manager of the Dutch Borland office went back to his journalist passion, and I got invited to do many technical presentations for them. I visited lots of conferences (the Borlando 1994 conference my first USA one) where I met Masoud Kamali who started the famous EKON (Entwickler Konferenz) in Germany. I spoke on all but one there.

The really cool thing is that people still use Turbo Pascal: there is a even a nice VM with MS-DOS running Turbo Pascal.

My early Delphi days

Borlando was actually leading to Delphi (then dubbed Delphi 95 even before Microsoft decided to call the Windows for Workgroups 3.11 successor Windows 95): some portions of Delphi were already shown at Borlando.

It was a great conference, with a marvellous vibe next to great technical sessions. The off-conference was just as important as the sessions. I enjoyed listening to the Pascalettes, bumping into the TurboPower Software crew live and meeting people like Julian Bucknall, Philippe Kahn, David I and many others.

Live conferences still are an important part of gaining knowledge. I’ve spoken on many of the Borland/Inprise/CodeGear organised ones, and a lot of other conferences too. Talking with real people still beats any and all virtual conferences (: Hopefully a USA conference will be organised some day again, as the non-USA conference (in Europe there is EKON, BeDelphi, IT-DevCon, DAPUG etc and other continents have interesting conferences too), but the times of global Delphi related conferences are over just as some other global IT-related conferences died.

Back then, Turbo Pascal wasn’t the only thing is my toolbox, and nowadays, Delphi isn’t either. The real charm of a good toolbox is to be able to choose a combination of tools best suited to get a job done.

Delphi versions I really liked in the early days were 2, 3, 5 and 7. Using them, I slowly but steadily began to like the non-UI part of software more than the UI part. Which means coding a lot, as opposed to double clicking and throwing in a bunch of lines on the forms’ code. That’s where agile aspects (unit testing, design patterns, etc) pay off a lot too. As a bug hunter and problem solver, I love the improvements of the debugger and tools like ModelMaker Code Explorer (which I take any day over the built-in refactoring tools) or CodeRush (that is still there for .NET).

Hopefully the acquisition of Castalia and Usertility will improve the stock support in Delphi. On the other hand, it will make it harder for the 3rd party market to come up with something similar.

Later Delphi life

You can read most of my recent Delphi history at my blog that started in 2009. Before that, I was co-owner of Oosterkamp training | consultancy (now known as NForza) doing Delphi and .NET work for years and organising Delphi post-launch events for most Delphi versions until about 2009 (a few years after I left and they started to focus more on .NET than Delphi).

I’m still using Delphi. In my contract life not as much as I would like: it is harder to find Delphi contracts near to where I live (say within an hour of one-way travel). Since I became legal guardian of my brother in 2004, I’ve favoured contracts closer to me. Most of the longer contracts around here that involve Delphi parts use older versions of Delphi and recent versions of .NET. The shorter contracts though tend to have more freedom of choice for recent Delphi versions.

In my non-contract life, I use Delphi a lot. It is still one of the most productive tools around, and I love the surge of new open and closed source projects like Spring4D.

I’m picky, and quality of Delphi still varies (though since about Delphi XE2 most of it consistently is above Delphi 7 level). For things that cannot be ported to Unicode, I use Delphi 2007, but my Delphi version of choice currently is Delphi XE6: a nice balance between features and issues, though size is a big issue to me especially on SSD.

A few of my big wishes for Delphi:

  • undo/redo in the designer (that would be a big improvement for the vast majority if Delphi users)
  • helpers for interfaces (this would enable to write LINQ for Delphi)
  • fix incomplete RTTI
  • ARC compiler for Win32 in addition to the non-ARC one (this would making debugging of ARC stuff a lot easier and faster)
  • ARM+x64 Linux and x64 Mac compilers (for server side stuff)
  • more open and stable Embarcadero sites (docwiki, Quality Portal, Forums, etc)

It will be very important for Embarcadero to focus on the things 3rd parties cannot do or can only do with a truckload of effort: IDE, Compilers, Debugger proxies, base RTL, interop. That will keep a healthy balance between Embarcadero and the 3rd party vendors.

–jeroen

via: OTAPI – Delphi Week – Where My Delphi Life Began.

2 Responses to “Where My Delphi Life Began – via David Millington and Simon Stuart #DelphiWeek”

  1. […] vintagedaveDavid M on Where My Delphi Life Began… […]

  2. Great article, and fascinating history!

    Good wishlist too. Some of those things are planned, I know, and the more we can encourage Embarcadero to implement the others and similar things, the better.

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