Delphi for PHP

I have to comment on this week’s annoucement of Delphi for PHP. I was a Delphi programmer for about 5 years before taking up PHP about 6 years ago. What a convergence.

I have a great fondness and respect for the old Object Pascal based Delphi. Delphi’s VCL has been influential, inspiring the GUI components in Java. And, of course Ander Heijlsberg went on to put a huge stamp on C# and .NET that would be familiar to any Delphi programmers.

I’ve always admired this approach of extending the language syntax to make common things easy and for the integration between the language and the tools. In Delphi, this was evidenced by the excellent properties support. Six years later, this is the feature I miss the most in PHP. This language extension approach has seen its culmination in C# and LINQ. It almost pains me to say it, but the cutting edge of commercial language design is at Microsoft now.

On the other hand, I’ve never had that much respect for Borland as a company. We were big enough to have Borland representative’s come to our office and try sell us their products. They were terrible at the mechanics of selling into big companies. I was in their beta programs. I went to their conferences. I’ve never had any sense that they know what they are doing business wise. Inprise? What were they thinking? Now here they are, just having gotten their asses kicked by eclipse in the Java IDE space and what are they working on? They release an IDE for PHP, just as Zend is embracing Eclipse in the PHP space. Brilliant!

I don’t quite know what Delphi means now. To me, its always been and IDE plus Object Pascal. What is it now? I also don’t quite know what Borland has become. Is it CodeGear now? I guess that the Delphi for PHP IDE comes from Quadram and their now discontinued QStudio product. And the VCL is their WCL (no linkage found). Anytime I’ve been touched by the corporate entity that was Borland, confusion ensued. I’m confused now.

It appears that the PHP version of the VCL will be released on open source. There is nothing at the sourceforge project, yet, but I’ll be interested to see what it looks like, if only for old times sake.

The Delphi tool approach was to serialize an object based representation of an application, then offer tools to create that serialized representation, and to load that representation at run time. In Delphi, that serialization was done into the form files (.DFM). I’ll be interested to see how Delphi for PHP does it. Perhaps, this is an area where the Eclipse PHP Development Tool can learn. I know that I definitely had Delphi in mind when I was writing my column on Object Serialization for this month’s php | Architect.

Meanwhile, if you want to see the Delphi influence in PHP with code that you can download today, take a look at the Prado framework, which I imagine to be like the VCL for PHP, but without the supporting IDE.

This is a space I’ll definitely be watching.

Speak Your Mind