Delphi 5.0 touts new Web-ready features

Inprise Corp. is turning its attention to the Internet with Version 5.0 of its Windows rapid application development tool, Borland Delphi.

Borland Delphi 5.0 was designed to help developers easily extend Windows applications to the Web, said Ben Riga, group product manager for Inprise in Scotts Valley, Calif.

“Definitely the key area we focused on was Internet development. What people have told us they want us to focus on is Internet development,” Riga said.

Among the new features is support for HTML 4, for building thin clients for the Web, and XML, to ease the sharing of data with Web browsers.

Version 5.0 also ships with Midas (Multi-Tier Distributed Application Services) 3. The distributed application environment delivers applications that scale as the volume of transactions and numbers of end-users grow, according to Borland. Midas supports all distributed computing standards, including HTTP, Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA) and Component Object Model (COM).

Inprise made sure Delphi 5.0 included the latest standards in database development. To that end, Version 5.0 features Microsoft’s ActiveX Data Objects, or AODExpress, and InterBase Express, which, according to Inprise, is a fast, low-footprint relational database which resellers and integrators can use to build rapid applications.

To facilitate group development, Inrpise has added TeamSource, a workflow model that simplifies the management of source code for distributed teams. And Version 5.0 ships with a translation suite, which also maintains a repository of translated items, as well as a customizable desktop.

Lastly, Inprise has tweaked the Delphi debugger so that it better supports multi-process and distributed debugging, specifically allowing developers to group “Breakpoints” — or select portions of code – so that entire areas of interest can be debugged, Riga said.

In contrast to its primary competitor, Microsoft’s Visual Basic, Riga said Delphi 5.0 has always focused on giving developers a non-platform specific tool. This means support for multiple standards, including those not supported by Microsoft.

Also, Delphi 5.0 will be more stable than 4.0, according to Alfred Ayache, a Toronto-based developer and president of the Toronto Delphi User Group (TDUG). “Delphi 4.0 was rushed out the door too quickly,” he said, adding that it took three patches before 4.0 was fully ready for the developer community.

Ayache said developers are looking ahead to 5.0. “They’re putting in some good tools. The debugger especially has new features which are going to be extremely useful to developers.”

Ayache said he likes that Inprise isn’t playing catch-up to Microsoft’s Visual Basic.

Darnee Phipps, research analyst with Stamford, Conn.-based industry research group Gartner Group Inc., said Inprise is pursuing a good upgrade path, but is cautious about Inprise’s focus, and what affect that may have on the future of the company.

“We feel that the success of Delphi is very closely tied to the success of Inprise’s application sever platform, to really provide the infrastructure for next generation client/server and Web-based application development,” Phipps said.

Inprise is primarily concerned with pleasing its installed base, he added. “We’re seeing that they’re holding on to the install base as best they can, and trying to hold developers from moving to a different tool selection not based on any technical flow in Delphi.”

Borland Delphi 5.0 ( ships in three editions; Delphi 5.0 Enterprise, Professional and Standard, and estimated street pricing is $3,629, $1,159 and $149.95 respectively. Current users of Delphi 4.0 and Delphi 4.0 Client/Server, as well as other Borland development tools, are eligible for a discounted price.

Inprise (Canada) Corp. can be reached at 1-800-461-3327.