CodeGear Offers a Rational Alternative for System i Development
March 11, 2008 Alex Woodie
Borland subsidiary CodeGear yesterday announced that it is reselling the Delphi/400 family of products, which was originally developed by SystemObjects. With the Delphi/400 and Delphi/400 for PHP offerings, CodeGear customers gain a way to develop Web- and Windows-based front ends to existing RPG and COBOL applications from within Delphi, Borland’s 4GL IDE–and also gain another alternative to IBM and its WebSphere and Rational development tools.
CodeGear was created in November 2006 when it was spun out of Borland’s developer tool division to continue to develop and support the Delphi, JBuilder, 3rdRail, Blackfish, Interbase, JGear, and Turbo products. While sales of these products are still accounted for with the $300 million parent company, CodeGear maintains management, R&D, sales, marketing, and operations departments that are separate from Borland.
With yesterday’s announcement, you can add SystemObjects’ Delphi/400 and Delphi/400 for PHP to the list of products now sold by CodeGear. Based in France with U.S. headquarters in New York, SystemObjects has been developing the Delphi/400 product line in cooperation with Borland (now CodeGear) since 1997, and claims thousands of Delphi/400 users around the world.
So what is this Delphi/400, and why should you care?
Basically, Delphi/400 is a special version of Delphi–Borland’s fourth-generation language (4GL) integrated development language (IDE)–that comes with additional middleware developed by SystemObjects that brings low-level access to i5/OS and DB2/400, including remote data queues, data areas, the IFS, spool files, and the other stuff that make the System i unique.
Benefits of using Delphi/400 include the rapid creation of i5/OS, Windows, .NET, and PHP (with Delphi/400 for PHP) applications from a visual environment, without writing a lot of code. Also, Delphi (and thus Delphi/400) users gain a certain amount of platform and database independence, with the capability to support Microsoft and Oracle databases with the same application originally designed to run on DB2/400.
CodeGear foresees Delphi/400 and Delphi/400 for PHP helping to modernize customers’ existing RPG and COBOL applications with graphical screens that are easier to learn and operate, says Michael Swindell, vice president of products and strategy for CodeGear, which is based in Scotts Valley, California.
“The majority of AS/400 and System i applications in use today are still character-based, terminal-oriented applications,” Swindell says. “With the Delphi/400 products, developers can use RAD techniques to quickly and cost effectively add rich-client front ends with Windows XP, Vista, or PHP Web 2.0 user interfaces.”
One happy Delphi/400 modernizer is Jörg Ahlrep, a senior project manager at Techgroup Schweiz AG, who says he chose Delphi/400 because of its “direct, fast, and native” access to the System i. “We were able to take old applications and replace them with a simple Windows user interface very quickly,” Ahlrep says. “There was almost no learning curve for our end users.”
CodeGear is selling two versions of Delphi/400–an enterprise version that supports a wide range of data sources, and a professional version that offers more limited data connectivity. A new version of Delphi/400 for PHP is also in the works, and should be available later this year.
CodeGear and SystemObjects will both provide technical support for Delphi/400. CodeGear will also be promoting the product in industry publications, and will be showcasing the product at the upcoming COMMON conference in Nashville, Tennessee.
Delphi/400 and Delphi/400 for PHP are available from CodeGear. Delphi/400 Professional costs $4,049 per development seat, while Delphi/400 Enterprise costs $5,149 per development seat. There is also a deployment license for Delphi/400, which costs $3,150 per partition. Delphi/400 for PHP starts at $3,449. For more information, see www.codegear.com.