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I have the impression that Delphi isn't very popular anymore. But now at work I had to make some changes to an old Delphi program that we are still using. I used Borland Developer Studio 2006 and it was very pleasant and intuitive to work with, even though I had practically no previous exposure to it. Is Delphi still widely-used and I am simply not aware of it or are there other reasons for its decline?

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One thing to realize: As you say, it's very pleasant and intuitive to work with, and you're not the only one who's noticed that. Some companies, in fact, consider the productivity that Delphi brings to be a true competitive advantage. They make sure to keep very quiet about using Delphi so their competition doesn't catch on. So what you end up with is a pretty widely-used language that doesn't have a very high profile. –  Mason Wheeler Jun 10 '11 at 13:13
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Borland is dead, Delphi is not. I once asked Jeff Duntemann who "Frank Borland" was, thinking he started Borland. Jeff told me that Philippe Kahn created the Frank Borland personna as a marketing gimmick. –  Cape Cod Gunny Jun 10 '11 at 13:30
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www.isdelphidead.com ;) –  Stuart Jun 10 '11 at 15:14
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Funnily enough I always assumed somebody created Philippe Kahn as a marketing gimmick! –  Martin Beckett Jun 10 '11 at 15:33
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@Mason, as wierd as that sounds, its true. A company I worked for did exactly that because it allowed them to compete against larger competitors who used C. If someone asked, sure, we'd tell them. But we didnt go out of our way to advertise what we used. –  GrandmasterB Jun 10 '11 at 18:45

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up vote 67 down vote accepted

Delphi is still around and very much alive, but under new ownership.

Borland really lost their way. They had a really large product line, and the main thing that people were interested in was Delphi, but what the PHBs thought was going to be big was not their development tools, but their Application Lifecycle Management tools. So they put a lot of resources into developing and promoting that instead of Delphi, and let the development tools branch languish. I even heard from some former Borland employees at the Delphi Live! conference a few years ago that their sales people were actively discouraged and dis-incentivized (is that a word?) from trying to sell Delphi at all, even to potential clients who expressed interest up-front.

A few years back, things changed. Borland sold their entire development tools division to Embarcadero Technologies, which up to that point was mostly known for database-related software. Now their big claim to fame is that they're the guys who make Delphi. Within a few months of the sale, Borland stock fell below $1/share and they were bought out by a "corporate graveyard" company that basically does nothing but manage licensing fees on existing products. Borland no longer exists.

Embarcadero, though, actually cares about Delphi. They've put a lot of work and effort into it, and the product quality has improved tremendously in the last few releases. Despite both the recession and Delphi being a commercial-only tool in a perceived "age of open-source development," sales have been really strong and the team's been able to make a lot of progress.

TL;DR: Borland is dead; Delphi is not. It's "Embarcadero Delphi" now, and it's very much alive and kicking.

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I've never understood why they didn't offer a version for non-commercial apps really cheap, just to attract more users. –  red-dirt Jun 11 '11 at 23:55
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It all started when Borland changed its name to Inprise, and then back. Or perhaps before, when Philippe Kahn left the company. Any way, Borland was founded and lived strong as a company serving software developers, and at one point it decided to shift its attention to corporate mumbo-jumbo. That's when many, like me, felt betrayed, and dangerously trapped in a proprietary technology. Then came Java... I still use Delphi 7 on legacy work. –  Apalala Jun 12 '11 at 1:49
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@Gerry please look under conditions for starter edition, cmon, revenue under $1000 per YEAR, is that a joke ? And I live in former eastern european country. –  Antonio Bakula Jun 13 '11 at 1:21
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@Gerry, the original Turbo Pascal price was in a world of expensive software. Today both the Java and the .NET world has excellent starter versions for free. –  user1249 Jul 24 '11 at 8:32
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Borland had a sizable offering of languages, tools and applications, but Pascal was their main meal ticket. The problem is that they put all their eggs in the Windows basket when they could have branched out to the Macintosh market. It may have been much smaller, but they could have owned the cross platform development strategy. The fact that Mac development was still done in Pascal made it a no brainer. Had they played their cards right, Java would have been a non-starter. Sorry, but Java has nothing on Object Pascal. –  Joel Rodgers Jul 26 '12 at 3:59

Newer versions (notably XE) are far more better than 2006, that was pretty buggy version. And Delphi usage is definitly declining and IMO only reason is price. Delphi is very expensive and there is no free version. Even compiler is not free and that practicaly eliminates Delphi as tool for open source development.

And one thing that contributed far more to that slow declining is Delphi .NET compiler, Borland and later CodeGear put much effort in that product but that was big big mistake.

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Interesting, I have only been working with it for a couple of days and haven't run into any problems yet. I guess price is indeed a good reason to not use Delphi. –  Lucas Jun 10 '11 at 12:48
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@Lucas: I'm glad to hear that, but a bit surprised. I found D2005 and D2006 so buggy as to be practically unusable, to be honest. The version before D2005, (which practically no one even bought and those who did almost universally hated it), Borland had rewritten the IDE from scratch and it took another three releases before the quality reached a tolerable level, due mostly to development resource starvation because of the company's vision problems, as I outlined in my reply. –  Mason Wheeler Jun 10 '11 at 13:10
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I don't think you have the data to say "Delphi usage is definitely declining." I no longer work at Embarcadero, but I can tell you that Delphi usage (license sales is the only realistic marker that can be used) INCREASED after Embarcadero got Delphi. There are also some very significant improvements in recent versions, and even more exciting things come in new releases. I don't work there any more, so don't call me a shill for the company ;) –  John Kaster Jun 10 '11 at 20:28
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@John you are right, I don't have the exact data, but basing on a fact that many 3rd party vendors died or jumped in the .NET vagon and it's getting harder to find new Delphi developers, specially young people. Every year our Croatian user group went smaler etc. All that combined and I think that I can say that Delphi usage (ecosystem) is slowly declining from times of Delphi 7, btw. I really love Delphi and was activly use it for 15 years –  Antonio Bakula Jun 11 '11 at 7:20
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I used D2006 for several years and found it tolerable - as long as I turned error insight off. With it enabled there are significant memory leaks. –  Gerry Jun 13 '11 at 0:29

I have used Delphi since Version 1, and introduced it to my workplace. At the time, we were using Visual Basic 3 for most of our Windows development, and I found that Delphi was head and shoulders above VB 3 for our needs.

When it came time to move from 16 to 32-bits, our development team took the opportunity to change the architecture of our product and separate the UI from the calculation engine. It was at this time that we switched from VB to 100% Delphi.

What has caused Delphi's decline over time? I think that many of the posts have covered several of the facets involved: Borland ne' Inprise ne' Borland's loss of focus on their core supporters. Later on, it was widely known that Borland was attempting to sell Delphi to an outside company, which never inspires confidence in your users.

After CodeGear acquired it, I think that the lack of a 64-bit compiler may have hampered it's adoption. I eventually gave up waiting on a 64-bit version of the compiler from CodeGear, and ported our company's calculation engine to the Free Pascal Compiler (FPC) so that we now support the 64-bit Windows as well as 32/64-bit Linux platforms.

I am really looking forward to the upcoming Delphi XE2. With support for 64-bit Windows AND OSX and iOS platforms (iOS support is due to FPC), it is the first Delphi release I have been excited about in quite some time.

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I have loved reading this debate after so many years away, so just let me say –I’m very much alive. And I’m sorry, in my absence, that Borland didn’t do its utmost to support the smaller developers out there who made us so successful. You guys deserve the same, great tools as the enterprise customers, and I’m back to help make sure that becomes a reality.

What happened to Frank Borland? Well, I’ve been a little busy, but now I’m back and I'm blogging:

And a 'Tweetin;

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Frank, is that really you? so are you still living deep in the Santa Cruz Mountains? ;-) –  dodgy_coder Jun 30 '12 at 16:17

Yes, it is still widely used. Perhaps not as much as it once was, but I think you won't here CodeGear/Embarcadero complaining too much about their user base, which is steadily growing again. Also, Embarcadero wouldn't be switching the development of many of their (database) tools to Delphi if they thought that Delphi didn't have a future.

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Been making my living with delphi since release 1.0. Now using XE with great pleasure. The Delphi market in the USA has clearly gone virtually extinct due to all the reasons mentioned. But my impression is that it is still quite healthy and popular in Europe.

I think that's because Pascal is a language created in Europe and has stronger roots and tradition there than in the USA, the birthplace of C/C++, Microsoft and Windows, whose 'native language' is C/C++. MS and the C language family has always dominated in the world of professional Windows programming, paticularly in the USA.

Having said that, there appears to be a bit of a Delphi resurrgence lately thanks to CodeGear-Embarcadero.

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One could certainly get the impression that Delphi is not doing well if one is seeking employment as a developer and has Delphi experience. There seem to be few jobs advertised for Delphi developers, whereas there are many advertised for things like C#, Java and PHP.

Therefore it can seem to be "not a good investment" professionally to develop Delphi skills. If enough developers decide this, then it seems reasonable to conclude that there will be fewer and fewer developers embracing the tool.

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If the main concern is building a resume, then there are certainly better languages to focus on. But, not everybody is an employee. If you own the company, or are contractor, or are in a place where you can select technology, Delphi still makes a lot of sense. –  GrandmasterB Jun 13 '11 at 2:45
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@GrandmasterB: As an owner I can't afford to spend months finding a new dev. C# and Java already have a large talent pool to work from and make locating a new dev pretty easy. Delphi? well, the last major Delphi shop I knew of in this area closed about 8 years ago. –  Chris Lively Jan 17 '12 at 23:23
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I dont know where this assumption comes from that programmers cant learn new languages. Hire a good developer, regardless of the particular syntax they know, and tell them to use Delphi (assuming thats what you want to use). Smart and Gets Things Done, remember? Learning the language is the trivial part. –  GrandmasterB Jan 18 '12 at 7:29

Borland killed Delphi.

Writing an app using a version of Delphi a couple versions back just couldn't work. Nothing worked. Something simple like an FTP client, couldn't stay working. Even simple Win API programming which work perfectly in VB6 and .NET, Delphi will work 15% of the time with the same code. Borland only offered one Service Pack, leaving several bugs behind that they knew about. If you want them fixed, you had no choice but to upgrade. Judging from the users, the new version was littered with bugs, IDE crashes, and non-sense from Borland saying, "We have to keep ourselves profitable", implying that we have to keep paying them for the new versions which come out every year, otherwise they provide no support or fixes.

I was rooting for Delphi. As a VB6 user I had to make a decision if I should switch to .NET, or Borland Delphi or C++. The answer was clear, since Borland didn't care, then .NET. Other users dropped Delphi and moved to .NET. Even now, the thought of going to the new version of Delphi just makes me feel sick. Memories how it just kept failing and nothing worked and Borland's greed, just make me want to stay away and not waste my time. It's sad to see something go good, go so wrong.

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In case you weren't aware, Borland is gone and Delphi is under new management now, run by folks who actually care about product quality. You ought to give it another look. The recent releases are light-years better than the bad days. –  Mason Wheeler Jan 17 '12 at 19:36

One aspect that a lot people have either ignored or somehow missed: Delphi failed to stay relevant.

When D1 came out in ('94?) there were only two development choices: Desktop or Server. By D4 companies were basically testing the waters with Internet development. By D7, a new application was more likely to be run in a browser than on the desktop.

Unfortunately, Delphi didn't change. Around this time most compiler companies started failing. Corporate was moving to the web and embracing those languages.

To be sure, there were new Desktop applications being built, but quite frankly the mainstream had moved on.

Yes, Borland screwed up, royally, but the main problem was that they didn't embrace the web. .Net and Java did and won the hearts and minds of the vast majority of the development staff. Even Delphi.Net was a miserable failure. Either too little too late or simply bad execution, I'm not sure.

Unless Embarcadero changes direction, Delphi will continue to be a Desktop only product and it's potential market share will continue to shrink. I understand that they have increased sales, but increasing sales in a shrinking marketplace isn't exactly where they need to be. I suspect a lot of those sales are simply coming from companies switching away from other failures in that space.

I loved Delphi. However, I, like many others, outgrew it over 10 years ago. If we're lucky it will grow up too.

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Delphi is still alive and kicking, it is a great tool and the latest XE2 version brought many features such as 64bit compilation, iOS and MACOS compilation. So it is now a trully NATIVE Multi-Platform development tool.

It is really sad what Borland did to Delphi but Embarcadero seems to be changing the game, I use Delphi since version 4 and I´m currently on XE2, and this is by far the best version of Delphi ever released and since it is now multi-platform I would expect newer versions of Delphi to support Win32, Win64, MACOS, iOS, Android, Linux... all major platforms in the market.

The productivity of Delphi is incredible, and as a company owner I would never change our development platform, even if it is harder to find Delphi developers now, learning the language is really fast for a skilled DEVELOPER. In 2011 we hired 3 developers that didn´t know Delphi and now they have a very solid knowledge of the language and are producing many things really fast

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Microsoft killed them

But they had good help from themselves, they tended to have a lot of cool projects running internally but few that made it to any commercial success.

EDIT: Oh, sorry, you meant Delphi, not Borland. Nevermind then but it's kinda the same reason. I agree that Delphi was (is) a good IDE and in it's days superior to Visual Basic but Microsoft has too much clout to attract developers. That coupled with internal problems and the .Net switch-over together with the fact that desktop apps got less popular doomed them to obscurity

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Borland also turned away from the user base that put them where they were in the 80s by hiking their prices quite a bit. They should have stuck to the "lower end" and left high-end stuff to MS and maybe they'd still be talked about today. Sad. I was a heavy user of Borland products from the mid-80s to the early 90s. –  MetalMikester Jun 10 '11 at 12:55
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MS bought Anders Hejlsberg, that's why. ;-) –  Spoike Jun 10 '11 at 13:18
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Borland has never made DB programming easy. Their very latest product says it supports Firebird. However, you have to purchase the more expensive versions... the professional version does not come with the DBExpress drive for Firebird. What a rip off. –  Cape Cod Gunny Jun 10 '11 at 13:33
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Nah, I dont think MS had much to do with it. Borland put themselves out of business by completely turning their backs on the smaller ISV's that made them successful in their search for big corporate money. –  GrandmasterB Jun 10 '11 at 18:40

I've been using Delphi since about version 3. Since version 8 (which can't really count as a product as it was so terrible), each successive version of Delphi was an improvement on the last. Delphi as improved greatly under Embarcadero, and I'm looking forward to future innovations.

The whole divestment Borland made from Delphi was totally insane (at least from my perspective looking in), and unsurprisingly they were purchased by MicroFocus - a company whose claim to fame was Cobol for .Net.

But it's good to know that Delphi is now in Embarcadero's capable hands.

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I started programming with delphi and interbase back in 1997. Delphi was the best programming tool. i remembered when the 3 layers concept came around, it made database applications much more easy and powerful. Until Delphi 7, the IDE was perfect. But when Delhpi 8 was released it changed a lot. They made everything different, the entire UI was modified and it was suppose to be the .NET version, the VCL components got hard to find and the entire IDE became much more heavier to run in those "back in the days" brand new MS XP SP1 installed running in low performance hardware. So basicly thats when the declined started. Deciding between my delhi 7 and any new version of Borland Delphi, I stick with Delphi 7. So not only for me but for a lot of other programmers that I know that worked with Delphi share this same point of view. Also delphi 7 was very easy to crack. we just hat to install and the serial number was all number "1".

From 2007 until now I've been working with PHP5 so I dont know how is the Embarcadero's version.

good luck

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Delphi is alive as mentioned above not only because now it is owned by a company who cares, but also because there is a oss project fpc/Lazarus. It is inspired by Turbo Pascal/Delphi and has a very high level of compatibility with Delphi. Moreover, the current Delphi version uses fpc to compile for iOS target. This means that Embarcadero doesn't see this project as a threat, but rather as a partner.

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Out of interest, the Australian Tax Office uses Delphi for its flagship E-Tax product, which is a Windows desktop application allowing you to prepare and submit your tax return. Many people have called for it to be ported to other OSes, such as Mac OSX, or even just made into a web application. There's a recent story here about how the Mac version of it has been sidelined until 2013.

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I miss Delphi. In my humble opinion, it was by far the most productive tool available. A developer coming from any background could be up to speed in a very short time. The Delphi compiler was blisteringly fast (unlike ANY C compiler) and produced fast and tight executables using a language that was so well conceived that it was almost self documenting. I tried the Embarcadero version and found the user interface horrible when compared to the original Borland IDE. For me, it was all about the IDE. That's what made Delphi so productive. I lke C and its derivitives as well but just mastering the compiler switches and all the extraneous stuff that goes with it is a big time consumer.

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I've been a Delphi developer for 10+ years and still love it! I currently use the Embarcadero version XE and have tried XE3 with their 64bit support, IOS, MacOSX etc... One thing is true to nature, Delphi is still a stable, fast, all around great language to develop in. As a side note to Chris Lively, Delphi can compile "NATIVE" source for the above mentioned OS's... it doesn't require any runtime, any web browsers etc... design an app for an iPhone and compile it to run on that platform. Same for Mac OSX, or Windows 32 / 64 and Android now too. So I think Delphi never stopped growing... you gave up on it... shame on you! Before you bash anything, you should research and try it. I'm a well established C# developer who has earned a living in the past using it and VB.Net. I keep coming back to Delphi because it is a superior platform to develop on. It's fast, light weight, scalable, and there are still many component vendors. Check out Devart or DevExpress to start. They have fabulous components that are still being developed / enhanced as we speak. Delphi is around, alive, and growing... don't let anyone fool you. I am currently paying my mortgage as a Delphi developer in North America, and proud of it!

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