Late last year I had a small chat with David I. from Embarcadero Technologies via Skype. In that conversation we discussed a few things and we talked about getting back in touch with the indie developers and some of what they had in mind for the developer tools moving forward in the future. It was very enlightening and I vowed to try to bring the Object Pascal indie game devs and the Delphi developers closer in relations in the spirit of the conversation I had that day.
A few months ago I sent a series of interview questions to David as a part of my efforts to give them a chance to answer many of the questions that many of you good PGD members have asked or expressed concern with in the not-to-distant past. Here is the result of some of those questions I just got back last week. Please enjoy.
Pascal Game Development: Thank you for taking the time to answer some of the questions that many of our community members and readers have been probably asking themselves about you guys and the great products you work so hard to create and develop. I'm personally excited to find out what you have to say so leté─˘s begin.
PGD: Before we start asking all kinds of questions, please tell us a little bit about each of yourselves and how you came to be a developer working on Delphi?
Embarcadero Technologies: The development team is mainly located Scotts Valley California, Toronto Canada, Isai Romania, St. Petersburg Russia and some team members are also sprinkled throughout the rest of the world. The team is made up developers dedicated to developer tools, component frameworks, and platform support. The age of team members ranges between 22 and 60. Several of the Delphi team have been working since before Delphi version 1.0.
PGD: So what's it really like to work at Embarcadero? Whaté─˘s the atmosphere like? Is there a dress code?
Embarcadero: Ité─˘s a fun, open environment. We use mini-teams focused on major aspects of the product. The distributed teams use Scrum agile methodology. There is no specific dress code.
PGD: How many people actually work on Delphi? How do you split up the team(s) working on various aspects of the whole suite of tools?
Embarcadero: There are many mini-teams spread over the multiple R&D sites. To get a sense of how many people work on Delphi é─ý look at the RAD Studio team easter egg in any version of the product. Start the IDE and bring up the Help | About box and while holding down the ALT key and type the letters TEAM. Mini-teams include: IDE, RTL, VCL, Delphi compiler/tools, C++ compiler/tools, Delphi Prism, RadPHP, Modeling, Integration/Builds, Quality Engineering, and documentation.
PGD: What has changed since the Delphi team left Borland and moved to Embarcadero?
Embarcadero: There has been more investment by Embarcadero in the developer tools since so we joined the company. Sales of RAD Studio products has increased each year since we moved to Embardero. There has been an increase in quality engineering that has lead to better quality products (blogs.embarcadero.com/chrispattinson). The team is on an annual schedule for products releases that weé─˘ve hit each year for the past 3 releases and we are on track to keep this going into the future.
PGD: Any game development fans in the company? You guys must have a little fun from time-to-time, right?
Embarcadero: There are some very dedicated game players on the development team. Some of our favourite desktop and online games include Portal 2, World of Warcraft, Halo 3, BioShock, Assassiné─˘s Creed, Mass Effect, Call of Duty: Black Ops. Since we are developers we also appreciate the game and physics engines that support Delphi including Jordi Coll's Thundax Physics Engine, Newton Game Dynamics Physics Engine, Cast II Game Engine, Asphyre Sphinx Game Engine, and JEDI-SDL for Delphi.
PGD: Delphi XE Starter is the first in what has been a long absence in products geared towards indie developers. Are there other products in the planning to follow-up from Starter Edition or is this a one-shot deal?
Embarcadero: We will continue to release all of the editions of our products as they are ready é─ý Starter, Professional, Enterprise and Architect.
PGD: A lot of indie developers seem to be a bit put off by the $1000 profit limitation on Starter Edition. Has this affected sales at all of the new product? Also is this something that Embarcadero might look at revising or updating sometime in the future?
Embarcadero: The starter edition is just that é─ý for beginners, students, indie developers, people moving from another industry to restart their careers, developers who want to help non-profit organizations, developers who build personal applications and for start-ups. The Starter editions are extensible with third party components and tools. When Starter Edition customers make enough money, they should upgrade to Professional and higher editions to get additional capabilities. We have upgrade pricing for Starter edition customers to move to higher editions. Weé─˘ve heard great response from our Starter edition customers.
PGD: Will this be something that will carry over to Delphi XE 2? Will it get a Starter Edition?
Embarcadero: We will continue to release starter editions in the future.
PGD: Is there any chance that we might see another version of Turbo Delphi? ...or that something that will probably remain a thing of the past?
Embarcadero: The Turbo Editions have been replaced by the Starter editions. The Starter editions are completely open allowing you to add third party tools and components.
PGD: So I've been told that there is actually a secret compiler being written from scratch by Embarcadero's R&D department. How long has this been going on? And what do we have to look forward to because of this behind the scenes work?
Embarcadero: Not much of a secret. An article was posted on EDN talking about the Future of the Delphi Compiler - http://edn.embarcadero.com/article/39174. Compiler work goes on continually in R&D. The current compiler architecture has been around for more than 12 years. The next generation compiler has been in the works for several years.
PGD: Object Pascal developers have been trying like mad to get their games on consoles. Is this something that Embarcadero would consider once the new compiler is further developed and ready to be put into product?
Embarcadero: Work is continuing on many projects inside R&D. The next generation compiler architecture will help us get to additional processers beyond just Intel. Stay tuned to the Embarcadero web site for any formal announcements of future products and roadmaps.
PGD: A lot of people have wondered about the possibility of Embarcadero making an IDE/Debugger tool for use with Free Pascal to extend the quality of the Delphi product to other popular platforms. Is there interest within the company or the Delphi team(s) to do this eventually? It seemed to work quite well with Delphi Prism.
Embarcadero: We are leveraging the Free Pascal Compiler to allow developers to build Delphi XE2 FireMonkey Applications that run on 32-bit Windows, 64-bit Windows, 32-bit Mac OS X, and iOS. We continue to work on our next generation Delphi compiler which will allow Delphi developers to move beyond the Intel processors.
PGD: What sorts of products or features do you guys think that game developers would want? Is there a product that any of the Delphi team members have brewing in their head that they'd love to entertain with the indie game developers?
Embarcadero: Game developers love high speed, native code compilers. They have also told us that they want direct support for graphics processors, vector graphics and image processing. Developers have also told us to explore CUDA programming, parallel programming and additional chip architectures. We appreciate and encourage all developers to give us feedback and suggestions for where we should take our next generation Delphi compiler.
PGD: Pascal used to be taught in all the schools when I was a high school student. Now it seems to be mostly C/C++ and Java. What do you guys think happened there?
Embarcadero: Pascal/Delphi is still taught in schools around the world. A few examples include schools in Russia, Germany, Scandinavia, China South Africa and Brazil. Pascal and Delphi are not only great teaching languages but they also allow students to build real, visual and powerful native code applications. Delphi is also used in non-computer science departments in the US, Canada and elsewhere where engineers, geographers, statisticians and others want to write applications for industrial, scientific and other domains and enjoy Delphié─˘s database connectivity and RAD visual development.
PGD: Some say that this is the #1 cause of the decline of people learning Object Pascal and using it out in the 'real world.' What are your thoughts on this?
Embarcadero: Delphi is alive and well in our industry. There are more than 2 million developers using Delphi around the world. Applications are being built for a wide range of industries and users. Take a look at some of the applications in our Application Showcase to see the variety. http://www.embarcadero.com/rad-in-ac...ation-showcase
Delphi allows you to build rich, real world applications faster than with any other development platform. Delphi is a modern language and continues to evolve to embrace modern programming methods and application architectures. An article by Andreano Lanusse covers all of the innovations that have been added since Delphi 7 in his white paper - 'Reasons to Migrate to Delphi XE What You Might Have Missed Since Delphi 7' (PDF is at cc.embarcadero.com)
PGD: There is a growing movement to put Pascal back into schools to teach proper Computer Science fundamentals. Is there any way we can help these guys out?
Embarcadero: We have academic versions of Delphi at very low prices for schools. The Starter editions also allow é─˙indieé─¨ development for students to help them get businesses started and revenue streams started. We continue to work with schools to make sure the students have all the tools they need for their curriculum work. Embarcadero All-Access gives schools all of the development and database tools they need for the entire curriculum and is available at a great price for schools.
PGD: Borland's Turbo Pascal used to have educational editions available to schools for their computer science classes and students. Is there a plan or interest for a Delphi Educational Edition that teachers can purchase for their computer labs to get back to teaching Pascal for basic programming concepts again?
Embarcadero: We still have academic pricing (low percentage of list price usually 10-20%) for schools and students.
PGD: Since the Standard/Personal Edition of Delphi was dropped it's been losing some of it's indie user-base to such tools like Lazarus and Free Pascal. What is Embarcadero's take on this? How do you guys view these other/alternate tools?
Embarcadero: The Delphi XE Starter edition is available for é─˙Indieé─¨ developers. We will continue to innovate on Windows and cross platform and mobile development using Delphi.
PGD: Did the existence of the DelphiX components for VCL-based use of the DirectX API influence the recent naming of the XE versions, instead of simply calling it 'Delphi X'?
Embarcadero: Embarcaderoé─˘s use of the XE branding/naming:
- X := heterogeneous
- E := Embarcadero
- Key XE product line characteristics:
- Heterogeneous é─ý direct, native support for all major operating system and database platforms included
- EmbarcaderoČĂ ToolCloudéĐó-enabled
- EmbarcaderoČĂ All-AccesséĐó XE upgradeable
FireMonkey is our next generation business application platform. FireMonkey brings é─˙riché─¨ visuals, effects, animation, and interactivity to high performance business applications. FireMonkey is the first native CPU and GPU based application platform designed for packaged, enterprise, and technical industry software, enabling you to easily develop visually stunning and highly connected applications for multiple platforms and devices. On Windows, FireMonkey HD forms use Direct 2D and FireMonkey 3D forms use Direct 3D. On the Mac, FireMonkey HD and 3D forms use OpenGL. On iOS, FireMonkey HD and 3D forms use OpenGL/ES.
PGD: The Object Pascal dialect is still sort of unofficial, though it was written up and proposed. With the adding of language features, like generics for example, is there probably a need to revise or standardize the Object Pascal language to a single standard or are we all just better off leaving such new additions uncontrolled for the most part?
Embarcadero: We continue to add language capabilities to respond to developer need and language innovations. Delphi is the de-facto standard for modern Pascal language development. We have added many language capabilities in the first 16 years of Delphi including: components (properties, methods, and events), interfaces, generics, anonymous methods, attributes, enhanced RTTI, and more. We will continue to evolve the language to meet the needs of developers for the next 16 years of Delphi.
PGD: What impact would this have on the language should it be shopped out to universities as an alternative to C++ or C# for object oriented programming languages? Would writing up a single standard for the language help justify it as a well defined language and more capable for educational use?
Embarcadero: Delphi is already used in education to teach computer science and software engineering. Language standardization is not directly related to use in education. Delphi fits very nicely in university programming classes. Delphi also fits very well in a Software Engineering program or course sequence that includes design, modeling, prototyping, database, development, unit testing, and deployment.
PGD: We've talked about quite a few things here in this interview. Is there anything that you would like to tell the indie and game development communities out there?
Embarcadero: We love hearing from developers. We are in a unique position in that we are also developers working on developer tools that we use to develop our products. We encourage all developers to keep demanding the best from us, and give us your feedback and suggestions. We are dedicated to providing the best integrated development environments, native code compilers, application platforms, database support, cross platform and processor support and the tooling. We will continue to do everything possible to allow Indie, Game, Beginning, Professional and Enterprise developers to build cutting edge applications.
Thank you everyone for reading this interview conducted between PGD and Embarcadero Technologies. I hope that it shed some light on some of what's been going on with Embarcadero since they took over the development tools. From what I can tell Delphi and the rest of the tools are in good hands and we have some exciting things happening over the next couple of years with Delphi XE2 coming out to support not only Windows 64-bit, but also Mac OS X and iOS cross platform development. A true milestone will happen sometime later this year and we hope it signals new life for the Delphi tools we all love so much in the independent game development world using Object Pascal.
Stay tuned for a second part to this same interview still to come this year!
Big thanks to David I. for gathering information and responses from the good R&D folks working hard on the great new tools we hope to be able to get our hands on soon. Best wishes and good health!
- Jason "WILL" McMillen
Pascal Game Development
Website Manager / Co-Founder
Pascal Game Development
Website Manager / Co-Founder