Thursday, July 16, 2009

Why I Use Delphi

Why I Use Delphi
by Nick Bradbury

Every now and then someone will ask why I develop my software using Delphi. After all, there are more "modern" languages for Windows like C#. And besides, Delphi is going to die eventually, right?

Funny thing is, 15 years ago when I was developing HomeSite I was getting razzed by some geeks for using a development tool that they said would soon disappear. And yet 15 years later I'm still going strong writing software in Delphi.

Here's why:

1. Speed.
Delphi isn't an interpreted language – it compiles to machine code, making it exceptionally fast. Delphi's string handling is particularly fast, which is important when developing a string-heavy application (such as HomeSite, TopStyle or FeedDemon).
2. No runtime.
Languages such as C# and VB.NET require the .NET runtime, which is a separate 20MB+ download for customers that don't already have it. I don't want to worry about whether potential customers have the .NET runtime installed, or have the correct version installed – I just want them to download my software and use it without any additional headaches. The latest version of FeedDemon is a mere 3.4MB download (yes, download size still matters), and no additional download is required.
3. Startup time.
Related to the above, well-designed Delphi applications start quickly because they don't have to wait for any runtime to load (assuming it's not already loaded). To me, this is a critical benefit. Applications that take a long time to load have a low perceived performance, regardless of how fast they are once they're loaded.
4. It's not created by Microsoft.
Don't take this as vague Microsoft bashing, because I like much of what Microsoft does (if I didn't, I wouldn't write software for Windows). However, past experience with Microsoft development tools has taught me that they're willing to sacrifice the needs of developers in order to push forward their agenda. I like the fact that Delphi is created by a group of dedicated programmers whose single goal is to make it the best development tool possible.

I realize that many Windows developers are put off by the fact that ownership of Delphi has changed hands so many times, but I see that as a testament to how strong the Delphi community is. By many accounts, the latest version of Delphi is the best yet, so if you're writing software for Windows and are lucky enough to be able to choose your development tool, you should give Delphi serious consideration.

BTW, I'm far from the only one to develop a popular application with Delphi – for example, Skype, Ad-Aware and Macromedia Captivate were also developed with Delphi, and there are plenty of other well-known Delphi applications.

Thanks to Nick Bradbury for his great article.

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