Delphi Programming Language: Definition, Evolution, Comparison, Data Access Components

Delphi IDE is a Rapid Application Development (RAD) environment. The ease of use of data-aware components makes it the ultimate tool for application development. It helps establish the connection to data servers, fetch and manipulate data, and post it back. When data handling reliability is a must, there is a huge chance that the Delphi language lies behind it.

Numerous applications are written in this language, including antivirus, system tools, backup software, etc. Even AI implementations, machine learning apps, and image manipulation software rely on Delphi.

What is Delphi programming language, and why is it important?

First, let's answer the question: what programming language is Delphi now? It is not just a software programming language but a framework. Delphi’s appearance allowed the developers to use the same code (with minor adjustments) to build native applications not only for Windows but also for Android, iOS, macOS, and Linux. The same software became available on different platforms with the least possible effort.

The first version of the Delphi computer language was for developing applications in MS Windows 3.1. Years and years passed, and what is Delphi now? Let us review its primary advantages and features in detail.

Key features of Delphi

One of the main reasons behind the popularity of the Delphi coding language is that apps written in it require minimum maintenance. Delphi is the choice for those working with legacy codes. Despite some discussions about the validity of the programming language Delphi, it is actual – not archaic or obsolete in any way.
Clarity

Clarity

A clear and comprehensive syntax makes code easily readable. Delphi programming language lies in a fast-learning curve – no wicked symbols with different meanings in different contexts.

Simplicity

Simplicity

The famous drag-and-drop mechanism for GUI implementation, including non-visual components, allows the developer to build the software quickly as the objects’ creation is already done.

Depth

Depth

Although a developer can write an application while staying on a higher level, Delphi allows for intensive manual work. It is even possible to write Assembly Code between the Pascal lines.

Speed

Speed

Delphi is fast, and its latest versions are even faster.

Long-term feasibility

Long-term feasibility

Although a developer can write an application while staying on a higher level, Delphi allows for intensive manual work. It is even possible to write Assembly Code between the Pascal lines.

Support

Adaptability

VCL and FMX frameworks can be adapted according to developers' needs. You can use an existing visual control or a non-visual component to create a new one, enhancing or directing its way of working. Also, it supports the entire Windows API and results in native windows .exe files that run even under Vine emulation in Linux.

Cross-platform

Cross-platform

There is no need to keep and maintain distinct codes in different languages for different platforms. The same code suits Windows, Android, macOS, iOS, and Linux platforms. Developers may use compiler directives to cover specific areas on the target platform itself.

Up to date

Up to date

Delphi (programming language) gets frequent updates with minimal need for maintenance from the developers' side. To ensure support for new Windows or Android versions, you need to move code from one Delphi version to another. Third-party components are also updated as soon as the new version is out.

Competitors vs. Delphi Programming

Understanding what kind of programming language is Delphi comes easier when you compare it with other popular languages.

Delphi vs. Java

Delphi compiles to Native code. It does not matter if it is for Windows, Android, macOS, or else. Java compiles to bytecode, and apps run under a VM interpreter or a Java runtime which exists almost everywhere.

The fact that the final Java product depends so heavily on the platform is a drawback for three reasons. First, it is slow, and most apps rely on the server side to do the actual job rather than the client Java app. Secondly, the same code doesn’t necessarily run the same way everywhere – it depends on the Java runtime implementation on the platform. Finally, a Java app depends on the decisions made by the companies maintaining the platforms. If they decide to change or throw away some features, Java will have to wait for an alternative (e.g., the end of NPAPI support by Google).

Delphi produces an executable file that contains everything needed. As long as there is compatibility with the platform versions themselves, which is a must, Delphi applications will run.

Java has a syntax of its own that resembles C. What type of programming language is Delphi? It is object-Pascal. It is a matter of preference, but many pundits consider Object Pascal more comprehensive.

Another essential aspect is backward compatibility. Every new language version brings changes and additions. Java 9 (for instance) was a real frustration for many developers previously using Java 8. Delphi had 28 version updates, and the same code runs without hassle. Therefore, if you need third-party components for Delphi, make sure to choose a reliable company – Delphi will ensure its own work.

Delphi vs .NET

.NET is not actually a language – it is more of a framework. It was created by Microsoft, originally for developing Windows applications. The language used is mainly C#, but some users refer to Visual Basic or even F#. The default IDE is Visual Studio. The machine running such an application must have pre-installed the same .NET framework that was used to write the application. A user can install more than one version of .NET support files.

Delphi produces an actual binary executable .exe file that will run in all Windows installations as they come out of the box.

The code of the final .NET application is contained inside, and you can decompile the app down to the source even within Visual Studio. To keep the actual code hidden, you must use third-party solutions. The product in Delphi software language is a binary file – one will need a disassembler, and only some bits and pieces can be retrieved, never the complete actual code.

Developing in .NET is not always backward compatible. Delphi is much more stable between versions, making sure that you can maintain the code easily in the future.

Delphi vs C++

Both C++ and Delphi are non-interpreted. They are compiled, native programming languages based on old-school approaches. Both are fast, though C++ is slightly faster in calculations alone. But when it comes to Strings, Delphi development language is much faster.

Embarcadero offers a C++ RAD version, which pretty much feels like Delphi, providing a fast environment to work with.

Delphi vs. JavaScript, Python, PHP, VBScript

As already mentioned, Delphi (object-pascal) is an actual full programming language, while JavaScript, Python, PHP, or VBScript are script languages – their code is not compiled but interpreted instead.

The advantages of script languages are their simplicity and portability, but they are slower. Also, when code is compiled, all errors in code (not bugs) are found at once. When the code is interpreted, the error will appear only when the code reaches that point.

Compiled languages such as Delphi run independently. Script languages are executed inside another application that supports them.

Using Delphi in 2022

Delphi is still here, 25+ years since its birth, reliable, consistent, and continuously updated to face modern needs. Skilled Delphi programmers are highly needed and appreciated in industries that rely on database servers.

Knowing the Delphi development language means one can deliver software for Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, or Linux. You will find applications written in this language in banking, logistics, healthcare, manufacturing, fintech, and many other industries. Despite all discussions, the Delphi future does not seem bleak.

Frequently Asked Questions