This is the first article in the series (II, III, IV, V, VI) of articles designed with one goal in mind: to provide a quick and dirty introduction to the world of .Net programming with Delphi. If you are looking for "what you need to know about Delphi 8 for .Net" - you're at the right place!
Fast Forward to Delphi for .Net is aimed at those Delphi developers that have at least a working knowledge of the Delphi programming environment, or better to say, for those developers who have "passed" all the chapters of the "Beginners Guide to Delphi Programming" online Delphi tutorial.
If you are familiar with Delphi (as a Win32 development RAD), but find yourself lost in this "new" .Net world, or simply put: if you feel like me and many Delphi developers that are on the crossroad and don't know which way to go (VCL Forms, Windows Forms, ASP.NET, ...) don't panic since: together (and with the help of the "Fast Forward" series) we'll learn how to choose the right direction!
More than a .NET version of DelphiI suppose that by now, you already know what .Net (in general) is all about; what's more I'll presume that you have installed Delphi 8 and that you would like to start developing for the .Net "yesterday".
To be sure that we are "talking the same language here", I'll try to describe what Delphi 8 brings to a Delphi developer in a few simple statements:
- "Delphi 8 for .Net is pure Delphi and pure .Net" - this simple slogan from Borland provides the cleanest description of the *new* Delphi. What this means is that you are able to build .Net "aware" applications with all your existing skills. Delphi 8 is much more than that: it gives you more options than any .Net RAD tool: open your Delphi Win32 (versions 7 and prior) projects (simple, let's be honest here) in Delphi for .Net, compile, and you have a true .Net application (yes, with no code changing).
Delphi 8 gives you the ultimate power to take your existing Win32 application development skills and start developing Windows (and Web) applications for the .Net - one could say Delphi is the only choice for your development projects today (no meter what your language of choice is today and what will be tomorrow).
"Windows Forms", what are "Windows Forms", you ask? You want to create a simple Windows application but you find yourself searching for the "Caption" property? What happened to TDBGrid, where is it?
There's no doubt about it: .Net is a great framework. Windows Forms is the new platform for Microsoft Windows application development, based on the .NET Framework. Note that in the "past" each Windows programming language was build around its own "framework" - Delphi had VCL, C++ had MFC, VB was using VB API, etc. The "framework" was designed to carry out low-level work, such as control painting, responding to messages - a developer needed to care *only* about the application GUI and logic. Now, .NET introduces a single framework (called the FCL - framework class library) that is used by all .NET programming languages.
In the .Net world, Windows Forms, in combination with the Windows Forms controls, represents the part of the FCL designed to build Windows applications (the same one you were building with VCL and Delphi).
Because Delphi 8 for .Net is what the name suggests: a full blown .Net language, it has at his disposal the entire .Net FCL - a powerful library of classes and types (object-oriented, much as the VCL). As a result, you as a Delphi developer can "compete" against other .Net developers (C#, VB.Net, etc) in building the same .Net based Windows applications - what's more you as a Delphi developer wil be much more "at home" with the FCL that (for example) a VB.Net developer: the FCL is similar to the VCL, where VB (6 and prior) developers need to learn object-oriented programming from the beginning!