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Delphi: Article

Avalon: Still a Big Deal

Avalon: Still a Big Deal

Scott Hanselman's coverage of Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference 2003, "Avalon: Yes, the Picture's Changing," generated a debate over whether Avalon is "revolutionary" or "evolutionary." To read the entire discussion, go to www.sys-con.com/dotnet/article.cfm?id=446.

Evolutionary, not Revolutionary
The movement of the declarative "InitializeComponents()" code to another more suitable "language" is nothing new, nor is it earth-shattering. Now comes the controversial part. Take a look at Borland Delphi... "Oh, I've heard of that." No, it is not just that "database" tool. It is a full-featured, powerful, object-oriented, component-based, compiled-to-native-code development environment.

The Visual Component Library (VCL) included with Delphi uses a predecessor to Avalon's XAML. By using a text or binary declarative "language," the form construction is taken out of the code. This "script" is attached to the executable as a resource. It can also be easily localized by providing an alternative script.

Avalon is clearly an evolutionary step along this same path, but I would certainly not characterize it as "revolutionary."

Yes, I work for Borland. Yes, I'm one of the original developers that designed and built Delphi.

If you look closely, and resist the urge to revise history, you'll see that one of the primary architects behind .NET is Anders Hejlsberg, who was one of the original architects behind Delphi. Anders left Borland and helped produce J++ and WFC, then eventually C# and .NET.

If you compare WinForms, WFC, nee Delphi's VCL, the similarities are... let's just say, striking.

We at Borland are extremely excited about the technologies that are coming out of Redmond. So I guess it is true that imitation is the highest form of flattery.
Allen Bauer
Borland Software Corporation
RAD .NET IDE architect

Even Less Revolutionary
Avalon is even less revolutionary than Allen thinks. Mac developers have been building interfaces as resources separate from the code that drives them for 20 years. And NeXT developers have been doing the same thing, with easy-to-internationalize "freeze-dried objects" for 15 years. Yes, really, 20 and 15 years.
Posted by Chris Hanson
on Nov. 1 @ 03:25 AM

It Doesn't Need To Be Revolutionary
In response to Chris Hanson: Just because it existed before doesn't mean this isn't a big deal. It's the fact that a billion-dollar corporation is putting their future behind this that matters. I do think the article is a little overzealous though.
Posted by Brian Z Jones
on Nov. 3 @ 05:11 PM

Scott Hanselman Responds
I wrote my first Delphi app in 1995. I'm all about Delphi and and totally respect Anders' background. Nick Bradbury is an example of a guy who continues to innovate with Delphi (Feed-Demon, TopStyle, etc.). So I hear what Allen is saying. There are clearly shadows of Delphi, Java, and - heck, I'll say it - "plain-text resource files" in XAML.

However, Brian is right in that no matter how many GNU or Apple folks promote vectors, the fact that Microsoft is trying to get Windows users out of a "bitmap state of mind" is a big deal. Sure, it will take years, but it's still refreshing.
Posted by Scott Hanselman
on Nov. 4 @ 09:35 PM

More Stories By .NETDJ News Desk

.NETDJ News Desk monitors Microsoft .NET and its related technologies, including Silverlight, to present IT professionals with news, updates on technology advances, business trends, new products and standards, and insight.

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