This is not a secret that Microsoft is revamping the Windows UI step by step with new guidelines, animations and various enhancements. These changes are almost universally popular and loved by millions of users worldwide, and the demand for Windows GUI development continues unabated despite competition for user’s information and processing needs from mobile devices and similar ubiquitous computing solutions such as IOT.
Microsoft has been continued to evolve its GUI development solutions for over two decades, and we have seen several significant changes along with a few inevitable missteps which often happen as technology and its users increase in sophistication. Currently, they’re promising a stable ecosystem around their new MAUI (Multi-platform App UI) framework.
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Why are we not all writing programs that use UWP?
But how about Windows Forms since 2002 or Windows Presentation Foundation since 2006? Yes, they have shared some sound principles and tried to give a clean separation between controls and application logic. Then with the introduction of the ultimately doomed Windows Phone, developers needed a framework to homogenize the UI to meet the needs of desktop and handheld mobile devices, which led to the SDKs for Windows Phone. After some time, Microsoft claimed to have a single OS that could power the Surface devices, Xbox, desktop apps, touch enabled devices such as tablets, and Windows Phones. So, Windows 10 brought the UWP (Universal Windows Platform), where you build a single app that can run on all these devices, at least theory. One of the most remarkable things about UWP was its security, which isolates individual apps from each other and the underlying OS into a kind of sandbox.
However, these technologies struggled to adopt widespread development for all developers. For instance apps created with UWP are restricted to running in a closed sandbox with a user interface which was very much prescribed by Microsoft. This meant that some developers were reluctant – or unable – to swap to that technology. While developers using Delphi and C++ were able to, as they are now, build truly native apps for Windows devices with an almost unfettered freedom to do as they wished, UWP developers had to learn to live with limitations.
What came next with Windows GUI – the changes to GUI app frameworks
Over the years, Microsoft did not completely discard any of its frameworks; for instance, UWP has the XAML UI layer which debuted at the time of WPF. XAMAL is one of the most excellent features that efficiently manages the different localizations, screen resolutions and the application’s lifecycle. But of course, there are problems around it, and we did not see a significant breakthrough in adoption.
If you want to create native apps with a native user experience with the highest performance and less memory usage, I recommend Delphi or C++ Builder. Additionally, breaking and exploiting user information from web-powered applications is too easy. To get the highest security with a web app requires significant planning and workaround both on the server and client sides. But if you really want to integrate your web services with a native Delphi application you can use the TWebBrowser component in your native Delphi app to display HTML content with it automatically binding to the correct browser technology for the platform you are targeting. Combined with Delphi’s other technologies such as REST components – made a total breeze with RAD Studio’s REST Debugger which does 90% of the work for you, and the generous array of other TCP/IP protocol components you can combine the best of both worlds. Add into the mix the RAD Server middleware or even third-party solutions such as XData or CDATA connectors and there really is nothing you can’t do, and do better, more efficiently, and more securely.
While platforms like RAD Studio have been offering and actively providing one of the best Windows native development tools for more than 27 years now – Delphi with the Visual Component Library. While Microsoft is pushing various changes, Delphi’s Visual Component Library sticks to the core APIs of the Windows OS in a well thought-out implementation with a reputation for stability and compatibility, and that’s why apps created more than 20 years ago can run on new Windows devices without a problem. I assume this is the best-built GUI library in the Windows development marketplace.
What is the best option for Windows GUI Development with Python?
Moreover, over the last months, the Python4Delphi library has created a buzz among Delphi and Python developers. Python4Delphi allows you to use Python and Delphi programming language together. This is combining the best of all worlds – the fully compiled raw speed and security of Delphi with the overwhelmingly huge library of Python libraries which can carry out almost every imaginable task, particularly excelling in the area of data science and machine learning both the super-hot topics of the current time.
While Delphi provides the best GUI frameworks to really make apps shine, Python has that depth of the best AI/ML libraries to solve various problems. Put simply, if you have a working Python project, you can quickly turn that into all singing, all dancing GUI application by using the Python4Delphi library.
What is Python for Delphi?
Python for Delphi (P4D) is a set of free components that wrap up the Python language into Delphi. They let you quickly execute Python scripts and create new Python modules and new Python types.
- Low-level access to the Python API.
- High-level bi-directional interaction with Python
- Access to Python objects using Delphi custom variants
- Wrapping of Delphi objects for use in Python scripts using RTTI
- And many more.
Furthermore, the DelphiFMX for Python and DelphiVCL for Python libraries provide you to create native GUI apps using your Python code, where you can access VCL and FMX GUI libraries from your Python modules.
Check out the above article and learn why the DelphiFMX library is one of the best libraries for creating user interfaces for Windows and other platforms.
Multi-platform technologies – what is FireMonkey?
We can talk about Delphi FireMonkey and C# MAUI regarding multi-platform technologies. While Delphi’s FireMonkey framework has been in the market for more than a decade with solid and stable history, the MAUI framework is new. MAUI gives several better enhancements to Windows 11.
FireMonkey is something that every cross-platform developer needs. With FireMonkey, you can design a native and cross-platform application and deploy it to Windows, iOS, macOS, Linux and Android using a single codebase. Besides, accessing the hardware components and utilizing the OS-specific functionalities is more straightforward than any other multi-platform GUI framework.
Of course, the “cross-platform” development using a single code base is not something new or exciting for most people. Because we have web technologies, you can build a hybrid app, which works if there is a supported browser on the user’s machine. Moreover, these apps are easy to get updated, right? But as you spend more time using web apps, you start to feel the inevitable inconvenience of these apps. For instance, web apps struggle to talk with hardware components and require several layers of abstraction. Web apps are easier to exploit and break.
So, again FireMonkey is one of the safest and most stable solutions you can utilize: rendering the UI from scratch using the appropriate available GPU, which leads to stunning user interfaces with 3D elements, effects, shaders and transitions. FireMonkey is not just a UI framework; it is an application framework for any application you can think of.
Why not use the FireMonkey GUI application framework for your next project?
Cross-platform apps can pose challenges to the developer which FireMonkey can help mitigate or eradicate altogether. For example, iOS and Android use different file formats for audio and video, so having a single TMediaPlayer component that leverages this difference is very convenient for the developer who only needs to ask the component to play or record audio/video using the same code. FireMonkey adapts ‘behind the scenes’ so that the correct platform specific code is incorporated at compile time and executed on the target machine.
Furthermore, should you wish to, you can call any iOS library functions from your Delphi application and utilize underlying OS-specific APIs without a problem. This applies to Android, too – the Java2OP tool is available for Delphi developers. Additionally, JavaBridge is a third-party library that provides interoperability with Java using JNI.
Of course, there are drawbacks – while mobile technology is changing rapidly, this cross-platform application framework can give you a hard time if there are significant changes in the application architecture that you need to follow to publish your new update to the app store. With various levels of abstraction, it might take the company to make all the changes that match the OS requirements. But there is the exact thing that you won’t need to make substantial code changes in your source code.
What if I want to go beyond the included cross-platform application frameworks?
TMS Web Core: Create web client apps from your familiar IDE, familiar language and familiar component architecture. Reuse your Object Pascal language experience and existing code to create web apps with object-oriented and type-safe code.
This library: TMS Web Core is very flexible, and you can make any customization to your web app.
- Classic web client apps
- Installable & offline useable PWA
- Native Cross-Platform Miletus apps
- Easily integrate any JS library into your project
So put in a nutshell, TMS Web Core provides the fastest development environment with Delphi. With the same techniques and the same knowledge of desktop development, you can create fully-functional service-based web apps.
Thanks to Delphi’s great selection of third-party tech partners there are several other ways to create pure web apps using your Delphi skills.
What other ways can RAD Server increase development productivity?
Regarding the RAD Studio ecosystem – developers say they appreciate the sheer productivity. For instance, creating the shell of a basic native and cross-platform service-oriented business application takes several minutes. The LiveBindings Designer, the Fire Data Access Components and the great UI builder are excellent, and in my experience it’s hard to experience the same feeling with other development tools.
I emphasize productivity here because I want to point out various free and commercial third-party components that can decrease engineering hours.
Here are some of the best and most potent libraries/components for your toolset:
- Data Abstract for Delphi by RemObjects – premier framework for building fast, secure and scalable database apps
- Remoting SDK for Delphi – easily create remote services and expose them to client apps.
- Hydra – mixing Delphi VCL or FireMonkey with .NET (WinForms or WPF), Java or native Elements code. Moreover, it provides a mix of both visual and non-visual parts.
- DMVCFramework – one of the best known & advanced web solutions for Delphi developers that supports RESTful and JSON-RPC APIs development
- Spring4D – comprehensive & open-source library that consists of several various modules that contain base class library (common types, interface-based collection types) and a wonderful dependency injection framework
- CastleEngine – Advanced Cross-platform supported 3D and 2D game engine for Delphi developers
- And MANY more – for example take a quick look at the awesome-pascal repository.
Can I create next-gen apps with Delphi FireMonkey?
The vision around these development tools is always working towards developers’ productivity. No matter what technology you use for Windows or cross-platform development, choose the technology that can be an excellent option for the land’s long-term productivity because not all shiny things can be handy and optimal for the long-term run.
How to choose a technology that can make you work smooth and worry-free. Above, I talked about how excellent the FireMonkey GUI framework is. I am not just saying it. To cite my personal experience of the power and speed of Delphi and why I continue to choose it; over the last three years, I’ve worked with more than eight clients, and one time, I transferred the C# WPF project to Delphi VCL, created multi-platform client apps for inventory management systems, and rewrote Java Swing client apps with Delphi FireMonkey. These clients were just amazed at how little time it took to recreate them and impressed by the relatively tiny amount of code it needed.
Cruising to compute workloads between client and cloud will be as dynamic and seamless as moving between Wi-Fi and cellular on your phone today. To get the highest performance, you should be able to talk with the device and Delphi with FireMonkey is one of the best excellent options.
So why choose anything other than RAD Studio with Delphi?
To put it in a nutshell, deciding what programming language and GUI application framework are crucial to any critical performance of your business. Choosing Delphi with FireMonkey is one of the most ideal options that you can find.
With a comprehensive cross-platform, low-code GUI development ecosystem like RAD Studio, you can achieve the best productivity for a long-term run.
If you are interested in machine learning, artificial intelligence, or data science, then take a look at a new way to write chief Delphi code against Python libraries in this article.