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Embarcadero Advances Borland Tools

If you read RDN, you know we've closely followed the fate of the once-legendary Borland Developer Tools Group (DTG). The group that gave us the modern integrated development environment (IDE) and the Delphi programming language had spent a couple of years in limbo as Borland re-invented itself as an application lifecycle management (ALM) solutions vendor.

First the dev tools unit was publicly put on the block, but Borland got no serious takers. Then in November 2006, Borland spun off DTG as a wholly owned subsidiary called CodeGear. The unit continued to advance its products and tools, but was pinched by the increasingly broad managed tools push from Microsoft and the growth in Web-based development.

Which is why the acquisition of CodeGear back in May by Embarcadero Technologies seemed to make a lot of sense. As a purveyor of database tools and solutions, Embarcadero lives at the intersection of development and data -- an area of intense activity these days. Whether it's Microsoft advancing technologies like LINQ and Entity Frameworks, or innovative companies like Altova enabling advanced handling of data and XML, data-driven development is a hot-button issue in the corporate development space.

Now Embarcadero is releasing the first new versions of Delphi 2009 and C++ Builder 2009. Alas, developers will have to wait a bit longer to see a fully integrated tool suite from Embarcadero.

"The new products begin a branding and positioning re-thinking at the combined company, but do not really offer any new integration between the two types of users -- database developer and application developer," explained Al Hilwa, program director in the Application Development Software discipline for research firm IDC. "The included ER/Studio is a form of packaging integration than anything else, but it is a significant value-add for architects."

Embarcadero itself is quick to state that the new products are based on planning and work that were already well underway when Embarcadero purchased CodeGear. That said, Embarcadero did a good job of extending database support and improving drivers, Hilwa said. In fact, the most important new feature is the addition of unicode support, which Embarcadero officials say was a widely requested feature that should greatly ease app localization.

Hilwa praised Embarcadero's work thus far, noting that the company is plying the same developer workflow waters being mapped by Microsoft with its Web designer/developer cross-over products. Embarcadero does have a story to tell in the DBA/developer arena.

Ultimately, Hilwa said the Architect Edition of the new products represent "a shot at the bow of some of the modeling tools vendors." He singled out Sybase PowerDesigner, noting, "Embarcadero does have its tentacles into many Sybase shops because of its DBA tools already. I think it is going to be interesting to watch whether Embarcadero can bolster its architect appeal with more modeling offerings."

It seems like Borland's products might enjoy a bright future under the Embarcadero banner. If you are a developer using Delphi or C++ Builder, what would you hope to see in future versions of the software? E-mail me at [email protected].

Posted by Michael Desmond on 08/28/2008

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