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Borland lays out road map for Windows developer tools

Posted by iMark - 2005-11-10

Borland Software is in a peculiar spot when it comes to offering tools for developing Windows applications.
On one hand, Borland provides UML capabilities to Microsoft Visual Studio developers, via Borland's Together product; on the other hand, Borland believes it offers a viable alternative to Visual Studio via its Delphi platform, with easier transitions to Microsoft technologies.

Microsoft rolled out its Visual Studio 2005 tools platform on Monday here, a day before Borland began its Borland DevCon 2005 conference in the same city.

"I think one of the major reasons that developers are so interested in our tooling and why it provides such a value is because they don't want to spend all their time writing new things and learning new things when they don't have to," said Rob Cheng, Borland director of marketing for developer solutions, in an interview at DevCon on Wednesday.

Citing difficulties developers had in transitioning from Microsoft's Visual Basic language to the .Net platform as an example, Cheng said Microsoft requires a dramatic learning curve with tools and languages while Borland does not. Borland's road map for its Delphi product family accommodates several planned Microsoft technologies.

By the end of the calendar year, Borland plans to ship Borland Developer Studio 2006, code-named "Delphi DeXter." It features the Delphi 2006 programming language and adds C++ language support. Borland's predecessor to Developer Studio, Delphi 2005, supported C# and Delphi but not C++.

Also featured in Developer Studio 2006 is improved UML modeling and an upgrade to Borland's ECO (Enterprise Core Objects) technology for rapid development of components, such as those for user interfaces and database access. Modeling capabilities have been extended through the use of "state charts," for application design.

A successor product, due in 2006, is code-named "Delphi Highlander," while a follow-up called "Delphi Longhorn" ships in 2007.

Highlander focuses on updating the Delphi toolset to support .Net 2.0. Delphi.Net support will be added for generic types, partial classes, and nullable types, according to Borland. WinForms, Web services and ADO.Net support will be converted to .Net 2.0. Other technologies such as ECO and VCL (Visual Component Library) also will support 2.0 as transparently as possible.

Highlander will support existing Delphi projects such as ASP.Net projects and provide seamless project conversion to .Net 2.0, Borland said.

Highlander will include IDE design surfaces for .Net Compact Frameworks and support developing and debugging 64-bit .Net applications written using WinForms and VCL.Net.

Longhorn, so named for its support of Microsoft's planned technologies for the Longhorn generation of the Windows OS, will support the Windows Presentation Foundation and Microsoft Communications Foundation for Web services. Microsoft had code-named them "Avalon" and "Indigo," respectively. Managed C++ support also will be added along with ECO support for C++.

Also at Borland DevCon, Borland officials touted the Borland Tempo technology for IT management and governance. Borland acquired this technology when it purchased Legadero  in October. Featured is visual "requirements elicitation" technology to help IT personnel and persons on the business side better communicate on software application needs.

An attendee hailed the requirements elicitation technology as filling a gap. "That's really [been] lacking," said Gary Mueller, and engineer/programmer at Behlen Building Systems in Columbus, Neb.

Borland this week announced that it tapped former Oracle and BEA Systems executive Tod Nielsen as its new CEO. Scott Arnold, who had been acting CEO following the resignation of Dale Fuller  in July, will leave Borland after a transition period, according to the company.

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