Friday, 13 August 2010

Still alive and still on Delphi 6

I hadn't realised that my last post was January, 6 months has just disappeared. 6 being the magic number, in that we still have not found the time to stop development on our products in order to migrate up to Delphi 2009 that we bought a while back.

Since then, Delphi 2010 passed me by without a great deal of interest, and now I find myself with even less enthusiasm for Delphi 2011 XE, there is simply nothing in it that encourages me to upgrade.

(I also can't understand the naming convention. Although David I explained it last week, it isn't a convention that will scale. "X" for heterogeneous, and "E" for Embarcadero. What happens to the next version? It's like Microsoft coming up with Windows 95, 98, ME, 2000, XP, Vista, 7 - absolutely no consistency in the naming convention and if you didn't know which was which, you wouldn't know what order they came in. Maybe that only matters to me.)

In any case, we have taken one decision that will make the Unicode transition to Delphi 2009 easier, and that is to drop our support for Crystal Reports in the next release of our product. We are currently tied to using Crystal Reports 7 (yes, really!) because it was the last version that a stable Crystal VCL for Delphi component was written for. Besides, the latest versions of Crystal Reports have dropped any support for native software developers, only now supporting VS.Net and Eclipse developers.

It does mean that I am having to rewrite over 250 standard reports in our preferred report designer, ReportBuilder from Digital Metaphors. But this product is now well embedded into our software, we provide the designer for users to write their own reports and we can access any part of the report at run-time in order to inject data security before the user sees the final report.

So one less unsupported component out of the way, and with ReportBuilder 12, we can also drop yet another third-party component that did some things that ReportBuilder wasn't able to do previously, but can now.

As a side note, over the past 6 months, I've come to totally rely on the Raize and TMS component sets, to the point now where I use them more than the standard VCL controls. The Raize ones just work well and look so good, and the TMS ones have so much functionality crammed into them; our users are really starting to see the benefit of good interface design.

Our company recently put out a call to customers for product testimonials in order that we could be considered for a software award; one word out of all of the responses pleased me the most about our software: robust.
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