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What is it?
Delphi is a language used for rapid application development for Windows and the web. It is also available for Linux in the form of Kylix.
The latest version, Delphi 8, was launched in November 2003.
Where did it originate?
With Borland, a Nasdaq-listed public company headquartered in California. Borland started out as a supplier of low-cost utility packages for PCs and later developed Turbopascal, a compiler for the high-level programming language Pascal. Delphi, which builds on Pascal, first appeared in 1995. Borland also offers JBuilder for Java.
Borland is positioning itself as the prime alternative source for .net development tools. In 2003, Borland released C#Builder, a rapid application development environment for the C# language.
Last year there were rumours that Microsoft was planning to buy Borland, and Microsoft has welcomed the release of Delphi 8.
What is it for?
Traditionally, Delphi has been for portable Windows, internet and Linux application development. But the new version, codenamed Octane, is a dedicated integrated development environment for .net and for migrating existing Win32 Delphi applications to the .net framework.
Borland said the aim is to allow a Delphi developer to move to .net, taking their Delphi skills and much of their Delphi source code with them. However, Borland acknowledged there are still many more Win32 projects to be developed with Delphi, and promises to continue to support and update the Win32 Delphi technology.
Borland is shipping three editions of Delphi 8: Architect Edition for model-driven application design and development; Enterprise Edition for teams building enterprise-class databases applications with Microsoft ADO.net; and the Professional Edition for individuals building web and GUI applications for .net.
What makes it special?
Delphi has always resembled Visual Basic, although it is functionally richer and avoids a tie-in to Microsoft tools and platforms. Borland says Delphi offers a more productive and faster development environment than Visual Basic.
C#Builder and Octane share a new, common IDE (integrated development environment) core and C#Builder can be configured with the familiar Delphi look and feel.
How difficult is it to master?
The Delphi IDE was always designed to be familiar to Visual Basic developers, but the resemblance to Visual Studio seems to have gone a lot further.
Where is it used?
Across most industry sectors. There are wide-ranging case studies on Borland's website.
What systems does it run on?
Windows and the .net framework. Linux users have the very similar Kylix IDE for Delphi.
What is coming up?
The Win32 Delphi compiler will be given increased source code compatibility with .net.
Courses are available from Borland and its partners, or search for "Delphi tutorial" on the web. There is a wide range of Delphi community sites, including Delphi Developer and Project Jedi. The UK Borland User Group also offers training.
Rates of pay
Salaries are typically better than the equivalent Visual Basic jobs.