In-Depth

Borland Brings Back Turbo

Borland brings back Turbo with its announcement of four new products: Turbo C++, Turbo Delphi, Turbo Delphi for .NET, and Turbo C#.

In the 1990s, Borland's Turbo development kits were synonymous with fast, low-cost, high-quality software development. Today, literally, Borland brings back the Turbo concept. On August 8, the company announced four new Turbo products: Turbo C++, Turbo Delphi, Turbo Delphi for .NET, and Turbo C#. These will come in two packages—an Explorer version that can be downloaded for free or purchased on CD for a nominal charge, and a Professional version that will price at less than $500 (less that $100 for student versions).

Borland gave us a hint that these were coming during our recent visit to its headquarters. We got further details last week from David Intersimone, Borland chief evangelist, and Michael Swindell, director of product management. These products are targeted toward a range of people from the student and hobbyist to the individual developer. The primary difference between the Explorer and Professional versions is that the Explorer versions have a fixed controls palette, while the Professional versions can be extended with third-party or self-written controls.

Why both .NET and Win32 IDEs? ".NET is a great framework for enterprise development," answered Intersimone. "But many developers and potential developers don't need such a framework. For hobbyists wanting to learn programming and share programs, and engineers writing manufacturing or control system applications, the .NET Framework is extra baggage." Performance is also a consideration. While Microsoft has done a good job at tuning the .NET Framework, native code usually still has better overall performance. This is important to those applications needing fast response times.

Make no mistake; these products are fully modern IDEs, with UML modeling, drag-and-drop user interfaces, and full data access objects. Developers can use the integrated Borland Database Engine (based on DBASE and Paradox), or third-party databases such as MySQL. It is possible to build serious applications using these products.

For those who might have been worried that Borland's spin-off of the developer tools to a separate company (whose name is still yet to be announced) might herald a sunset of minimum additional development and maximum milking of customers, this announcement should be a welcome relief. This is clearly a long-term strategy. Borland (and the successor company for the developer tools) is not milking the installed base, but rather trying to regrow the community. It is a bold and risky strategy in this era of commodity developer tools, but perhaps the best alternative for Borland and the successor developer tools company to remain relevant.

The Borland Turbo products will be available the first week of September. More information is available at http://www.turboexplorer.com.

About the Author

Peter Varhol is the executive editor, reviews of Redmond magazine and has more than 20 years of experience as a software developer, software product manager and technology writer. He has graduate degrees in computer science and mathematics, and has taught both subjects at the university level.

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