About a month ago we published a short blog post about the importance of our partner ecosystem and interviewed DevExpress. Our partners not only build much needed functional capabilities for RAD Studio developers, but also deliver exciting innovation. One partner that is particularly active on the innovation front is TMS Software. They not only provide valuable suites of components for both VCL and FMX, but also new capabilities, such as the recently released TMS WEB Core framework for Delphi-based web development, or the TMS FNC technology to offer visual & non-visual components from a single code-base that span VCL, FMX, LCL and WEB. Over the years, I have learned a lot from TMS Software’s founder, Bruno Fierens, and I asked him to spend some time with me and give me perspectives on our ecosystem and the future.
I know that you are one of the most passionate advocates for the Delphi / Pascal languages. Tell me what is your latest thinking about our ecosystem?
I absolutely love Object Pascal and Delphi. I believe that this is one of the most important languages with so much unrealized potential. Over the years, we have had our ups and downs, but I am excited about the latest developments and energy in the community. There is no language that is easier to learn, and the RAD Studio visual tooling is superior to many alternatives, so our system creates tremendous value for developers. The pillars of unmatched productivity are: 1) RAD component-based development, 2) strongly typed object -oriented language, 3) focus on easy data-binding and 4) last but not least, a huge language backwards-compatibility. There can, of course, be questions about how fast we move and language evolution. We Delphi developers are not a patient bunch and tend to be very vocal, but it is because we love what we do. We see some good developments, but we think that there can be more and we will actively work with the community to deliver more capabilities for Delphi developers.
What are the main issues you think we should address?
How can we promote Delphi better?
This is the million-dollar question. You are not Microsoft, so resources of course are limited. I think there are several main areas where we can focus our messaging. Some are more strategic while others are more tactical.
First, I love showcases, what you did for Delphi’s 26th birthday was great. You assembled a lot more and newer showcases that give people confidence that there are a lot of cool things that people still build with Delphi. We kept using Skype, but that is a bit old news. There is more cool stuff and not just games. There critical infrastructure systems all over the place that are built with Delphi and these cannot be replaced because alternative technologies do not meet performance requirements. And there are new teams that build sophisticated systems with one or two developers that rival solutions that are built by huge companies. This is the power of Delphi.
This brings me to my last point. We need to keep innovating. I am very excited about the potential of Web development with Delphi. It is an area that has been weak for a long time. Of course, desktop development is a pillar of Delphi, but with new technologies a Delphi developer can do so much more. TMS WEB Core allows you to build a Web Client with a very low learning curve. I think that fills an important piece in the puzzle and I am very pleased with the reception that we are getting from the community.
What are some of the important aspects of TMS WEB Core that people should know?
One important aspect to keep in mind is that it does require understanding of Web architectures. I am sometimes surprised that many Delphi developers are not very familiar with how multi-tier applications need to be structured. Frankly, that has been also an issue with FMX, where developers need to know about multiple OS and SDKs, native and non-native behavior, etc. It is not that much different from Windows, but it is different enough. With Web applications you have other considerations that may not be intuitive. We are constantly thinking how this can be improved. One of my earlier points about education speaks about it. We need more of it.
This reminds me of one other initiative that we are collaborating on, Low Code Wizards. The idea is that RAD Studio was the pioneer in Visual Development that obviously is at the core of the current Low Code explosion. We have an opportunity to build on what we do today by creating “wizards” that help developers get started or generate apps or components faster. What are your thoughts on that?
This is an interesting idea. Obviously RAD Studio in itself has many drag-and-drop features. Let’s not forget that its component-based architecture already can fulfil a lot of the low-code promise! A sophisticated component can offer visual configuration where little to no additional application level code is required to achieve the desired functionality. I personally think that the getting started wizards are useful, but what is more useful is wizards that help you build add-on functionality and help not only new users, but also experienced developers. We are working on functionality that can allow developers to configure and deploy a grid feature for example in a few clicks and it will be deployed “the right way”. These kinds of ideas should also help in acquiring more new developers, so let’s see.
Any parting words?
My only hope is that we together continue to advance Object Pascal and Delphi towards the future and make it more successful. There are so many options, bridges into Python, new Web Development, more open-source collaboration. I hope we all make the right decisions and make our customers successful. So many people trust and rely on what we do. We should keep earning that every day.