A heart-warming article today from Delphi developer Matthew Kenneth Bieschke. Matt takes us through his early days working hard at a job which he enjoyed but felt ultimately unfulfilling. He describes how he quite literally stumbled upon Delphi as he was stacking the software sales shelves of a retail store. It was the beginning of a love affair with our favorite ide software which is still going strong all these years later.
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Did you have a software development background?
The intellect has little to do on the road to discovery. There comes a leap in consciousness, call it Intuition or what you will, the solution comes to you and you don’t know how or why. — Albert Einstein
I graduated high school but didn’t go on to get a degree in anything. I was underqualified for higher paying jobs, so I got a sales job in the mid-90s working at a computer retail store by the name of CompUSA in Schaumburg, Illinois.
I made the decision to learn the programming language Pascal years before my employment using a software program called Turbo Pascal by Borland at the time. This was during the era of non-graphical operating systems that were primarily driven by command line interfaces (CLI). This was well before Microsoft Windows became ubiquitous.
How did you hear about Delphi?
One day in 1995 while stocking the shelves at CompUSA, I noticed a product called Delphi by Borland. It looked like a Windows inspired version of the Pascal powered Turbo Vision framework that I already loved. I knew intuitively that I had to buy a copy for myself. I taught myself Delphi that year in my free time. One customer in particular became a regular of mine while I worked as a salesperson.
This customer would ask for me by name because I’d been helpful, given valued advice and made his many prior visits positive ones. The customer sought software to potentially make an app and asked what the available options for doing so were. With the plethora of software packages available, I wasn’t asked a subjective question like which one was the best. Instead, I was asked which one I’d use if I was making an app for myself. I mentioned that I’d long used Pascal and since Delphi was based on that, that’s what I’d choose.
Why use Delphi?
I was asked why I’d choose Delphi over the development first party development software packages sold by Microsoft. Conventional wisdom at the time might have caused many to conclude that the maker of the operating system would produce the best product. Delphi represented a divergent approach to creating Windows apps. The world of the Dynamic Link Library (DLL) was even more problematic back then. However, Delphi was often able to sidestep this mess by outputting a single executable that many times didn’t even require a separate install program to be created. That’s what I call RAD deployment!
You decided to quit your ‘safe’ job and start coding?
My answer impressed him enough that he considered having me develop the app for him. After a successful interview, I quit CompUSA to start my new job. It was risky because it was just a temporary position that would only become full-time if I could prove my worth and that of Delphi itself.
I left a safe job for a potential career position that required use of a software in that I’d been using for less than a year. It was a decision ripe with much uncertainty but the decision to embrace the change put me on a new growth path. Had I doubted my skill or let my fear hold me back from quitting, I don’t know where I would be today. CompUSA went out of business after internet shopping really took off.
Eventually, I would have ended up jobless if I’d stayed there. My decision to quit had solved a problem that I didn’t even have yet. This new growth path led to learning about database design and SQL (Structured Query Language). While my initial development was done with the Borland Database Engine (BDE), I eventually embraced yet another paradigm shift from the BDE to Delphi’s newer FireDAC.
So you decided to drop the BDE and use FireDAC?
What did you like about JSON?
Delphi’s deft handling of JSON rendered all differences between the world of desktop and web applications immaterial for the purposes of information transmission. I was near instantly productive using it in concert with the principles of REST (Representational State Transfer) due to the Delphi RAD application development style. Systems that otherwise couldn’t talk to each other and were essentially data silos suddenly could exchange data with unprecedented precision.
This led to my becoming a passionate system integrator. The most recent of these integrations were with WordPress, Gravity Forms, HubSpot, Katana MRP and more. With each new system I joined together, the fundamental similarities became more familiar. Delphi’s FireDAC and their implementations of REST / JSON technologies enabled me to deliver end-to-end enterprise data solutions.
Are you ever tempted by other programming languages?
I’ve also done some work with the popular Python language as well. Since Python is an interpreted language rather than a compiled on, it pairs quite nicely with Delphi.
Embarcadero’s initiative to increase compatibility with Python is almost as big a milestone as that of the introduction of REST support to the Delphi ecosystem.
If I ever begin to doubt the decision, I made to choose Pascal or Delphi, I am reminded of the gains that I benefited from as pursued this path of uncertainty. My advice to anyone considering Delphi for a project is to be curious. It takes courage to try something new but the enormous trust I have built over so many years ago has paid off in so many ways other than just financially.
So do you still choose Delphi for your software development?
The road from then to now wasn’t without bumps because no solution is perfect. Delphi has stood the test of time though and the Alexandria release is just more proof of the product’s ability to innovate whether doing native Windows projects or the many other platforms the tool can target. Whatever projects are on the horizon of my future, I am confident that I can achieve it in Delphi!
This article was submitted as part of our Enterprise Article Showcase. If you have a success story to tell about a project which makes use of RAD Studio with Delphi or C++ Builder, or any of our other great enterprise products please get in touch, you could be featured too and win a prize! Read all about it here: Enterprise Article Showcase
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