by, 24-11-2010 at 05:25 AM (3201 Views)
You know I've been thinking a lot about software development and computers in general lately since I bought my first Mac just this last year. A whole bunch of ideas and questions have been coming to mind, especially since Embarcadero's big announcement that Delphi would be brought to the Mac a year or so ago.
Ideas from Apple
For example some time after getting my Mac and using it, I thought..."Why on Earth did I really hate these things and rag on users for using them all those years?" So I started to look into the history of the Mac and some of the things that happened with Apple the loss of Steve Jobs and the return. And then all the success it had afterward. For those interested, I'd highly recommend getting and/or watching the following for a somewhat accurate rendition of events; Macworld event at Boston in 1997, Macworld event at San Francisco in 2000 (Introducing Mac OS X) and 'Welcome To Macintosh' documentary. (200
Probably one of the greatest turning points in Apple's history since the creation of the Macintosh.
So amoung watching all the history and the events something interesting was said by Steve in his 1997 speech. It struck me because it seemed so relevant to us Pascal developers today. The quote I'm refering to is "We have to let go of this notion that for Apple to win, Microsoft has to lose." Jobs is of course making reference to the realization he had about the unhealthy state of mind of many of the Apple users and even employees at the time and possibly even today as these things seem to fade slowly away. Well doesn't it seem a lot like what's going on right now with Pascal and C?
Apple stopped trying to fight Microsoft and instead even worked with them here and there and focused more on repairing the damage done by Apple's previous leaders who lost sight of their strengths. What if us Object Pascal developers and those who make the compilers for the great language stopped and took a look at this parallel concept and thought about applying it?
Well the C-style languages are much like Microsoft. Big and all over the place. You can't search for any piece of code without finding some kind of C-style syntax example of what your looking up. And of course Object Pascal, interestingly enough originating from Apple in the early Mac-era, is in a somewhat similar situation that Apple was in cerca 1997.
One of the nice things that I can personally see is a lot of new energy being put back into some of the tools for Object Pascal, the new company making new and innovative Delphi tools such as 2009, 2010 and now XE. Embarcadero is probably just what the programming language needed and was asking for all these years. New energy and the freedom to exploit it's strengths and expand on it's capabilities. I think that is many of the existing developers would take this new energy and adopt the "we don't need C to lose for Pascal to win" attitude then we might eventually see a good turn-around for our beloved language. Keeping our focus on just making Pascal better and improving upon it's tools, libraries and resources instead of trying to fight every Tom Dick and Harry that wants to use some other language or tool. Apple seems to be doing well by this formula and I think Object Pascal can too.
During my chat with David I. we touched a bit on Delphi and Pascal getting back into the schools, he was quite excited about the idea of getting in there and working with the kids who are learning CS. He's excited and loves working with young people because it gives him that sense of youth, the innovation and learning new things of course, but he also brought up some ideas which were interesting. He brought up a rapid prototyping class, a software design class and a GUI class, which all seems like university/college level stuff. Though he mentioned one that seemed really cool; "a survey of programming languages class" which would obviously show off the strengths of many languages including Pascal. Who better to design and explain such a thing than the worlds leading software developer tool company in the world?
Something else David said, and I won't make a habit of this, but I'll quote him here with "I choose to believe that the schools are teaching fundamentals to the students and not just a language - but I know that students can be impressed with a platform and a language. At the same time they are free to use what gets the job done - or gets them a job. That is where we can come in to help. Delphi definitely lets you get the job done. We can show them all easily."
I think education and getting Object Pascal into schools is the key. Borland dropped the ball by not pushing it in high schools and other early Computer Science courses as the second coming of the new generation of languages, so for the most part it didn't get much of it's say with the youth of today, but with time and the effort it can make it to younger future programmers who can see what the language can do and what will be available as it gets improved over the coming years. Yes we will have to do that too. With Embarcadero's help along with other great companies like RemObjects and community contributers like those who work on the Free Pascal and Lazarus projects, I'm sure Object Pascal's strengths and abilities can an will be seen and heard.
Object Pascal back on a Mac
My last little thought for the day I guess is where did Object Pascal come from? The original line of Macintosh computers of course. Next year we may see a return to the Mac. A different Mac, but all the same, it's a return to the worlds top educational distributor in the world. The two make a good pair for many reasons. But above all else it's a powerful yet simple syntax for a powerful yet simple computer architecture. I'm excited about this and I'm sure that many who want to jump onto the new Mac platform will be too.
Object Pascal has a lot going for it. New tools, new companies with new energy. Even a new PGD! There is a lot of potential for Pascal to rise once again and become what it was designed for, a great language made to teach and make software development easy. And if we take the right approach and hit on where the strengths of it are and all do our part in pushing new initiatives that will help the language to it's peek potential, everybody wins.