Delphi is turning 25!

This week, Delphi is turning 25, and as part of the celebrations, members of the community have been encouraged to share their stories about Delphi, what they love and how it has helped their careers.

Delphi was originally launched on the 14th of February 1995, while I was still at 6th form College. It kind of passed me by, to be honest. At the time, I was just purchasing (well my parents did) my first PC with Windows on it. I was, however, using Pascal in the computer labs in some elective modules I took alongside my primary studies. (Progressing on from Basic).

It wasn’t until I left university and took my first post-uni job that I really discovered Delphi. I worked for a relatively new software house in the Leisure management domain, that has expanded into the UK, and because of my role, I ended up working alongside the US-based development team. It was just as they were moving from MS-DOS to Windows, primarily prompted by the wider business adoption of Windows following Windows 98.

The original DOS program was written in Turbo pascal, so Delphi was a natural progression.  It wasn’t long before I progressed fully into the development team. One key aspect of the move was updating my skill set and working towards Delphi Certification. At the time, this was mainly through night school study and through attending BorCon’s. I also joined up with the UK Developer Group and took my first steps into presenting. My first ever topic was around Replication with InterBase (Something we were doing with over 100 health clubs at the time).

One thing I remember from those days was a lot of Buzz around .Net, even David I told me to ensure I was up with it! Customers seemed to want it (Microsoft really sold every one that cool-aid), but none every really understood why when asked.  It was hard as a developer at the time, knowing what to stick with, what to expand on, where to focus the next phase of development. Sometimes you have to follow market demand, even if the market isn’t sure why it’s asking for something (kind of reminds me of 64bit applications only on mobile right now), but sometimes you need to look at the real business drivers and what makes sense for longterm delivery. Whatever has been thrown at Delphi, it continues to thrive. Even, Apple and Google are saying the new cool thing is to be RAD these days!

Thankfully, with a little consumer education of speed and performance of Delphi, the company I worked for ended up winning some big contracts with key health club chains, collecting 10’s of millions a month from recurring monthly memberships. This caught the attention of American Express, who we also wowed thanks to the rapid prototyping capabilities of Delphi. This lead to their first delivery of health club targetted recurring credit card billing.

We were also able to implement SaaS-based models years before they became the norm due to 3rd party libraries we integrated, again expanded with our very own management system written in Delphi.

Everything our customers throw at us, from connecting to Fiscal Printers in Italy, to multi-lingual support, to the integration of various access control scanners and relays (including hand scanners) to Lift control, to magnetic and contactless card encoding, Delphi was always up to the task. (either via direct API’s or support from 3rd party libraries).

With the world wide web growing in importance, it wasn’t long before integration was required. Intraweb provided a great way to expand out certain web applications, targetting the initial generation of web-enabled small form factor devices. Being able to use WYSIWYG with Delphi behind the scenes was massive in being able to get existing code out to new platforms. Web services also enabled the expansion into providing an API for other developers to connect into the core software engine. Critical for online bookings and reservations. This also tied the customers into our software even further, helping sell even more product licenses.

What was key, however, was that as the technical environment evolved, so did the language and the components available to deliver.

That is something that has carried on today. While lessons have been learned through trying new things, e.g. Kylix has come and gone, ARC is also on its way out, the language and features today allow coverage of Windows, Linux, macOS, iOS, Android covering 32bit and 64bit platforms – without compromise! Its fully native, fast and connected with OOP and data at its heart.

The eco-system of 3rd party component vendors and partners is growing again. More and more support around education exists, with and the Embarcadero Academy. – If fact, the stuff you use to wait all year to get at BorCon is now so easily accessible online.

The biggest challenge I hear from people is that they want more Delphi developers, which is a great thing for a skill set to be valued so highly. There is even the Delphi Jobs Board for developers and employers.

For me, Delphi changed the direction of my career. I’ve ultimately traveled to many more interesting places and done many great things because of Delphi. I’ve met with Government ministers, education board members, directors, CEO’s, and thousands of developers, each with their own interest and appreciation of Delphi.

If I look at where Delphi is compared to the other languages and component platforms that have come and gone, it doesn’t feel 25 years old… it feels 25 years young, and like most athletes, just like it’s coming into its prime.

Join the celebration this Friday. #Delphi25th. I’ve some insider knowledge of a few things coming, and it sounds awesome!

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