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 Dr.Bob Examines... #81
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Turbo Delphi
On September 5th, 2006, Borland released four new products: Turbo Delphi, Turbo Delphi for .NET, Turbo C++ and Turbo C#. Each of these was released in two editions: an affordable Professional edition as well as a totally free Explorer edition. The Turbo Explorer editions are completely functional but are limited in that you cannot install any third-party components or IDE add-ins. In the first two days, over 30.000 downloads and registrations have been received.
To be honest, the Turbo versions are not a new product line, since they are in fact equivalent to the single-personality Professional version of the Borland Developer Studio 2006. Where BDS 2006 contains all four personalities (even if you bought Delphi 2006, C++Builder 2006 or C#Builder 2006, the same multi-personality product was found in the box), the Turbo versions only contain a single personality. This results in a much lower price, which is especially welcome for developers who are only interested in one of Delphi for Win32, Delphi for .NET, C++ (for Win32) or C# code.

In this article, I want to focus on the Turbo editions of Delphi and Delphi for .NET, showing the advantages but also some of the things to keep in mind when using the Turbo versions (especially the free Explorer editions).


Turbo Professional
Starting with the Turbo Professional versions: these can be compared with the Professional version of Borland Developer Studio 2006. Missing in the Turbo Professional versions are the Enterprise or Architect features, like DataSnap for Win32, DataSync and DataHub for BDP, and DB Web controls for ASP.NET. Also, while Turbo Delphi for .NET and Turbo C# support Enterprise Core Objects (ECO) III, they only offer XML persistency instead of database persistency, and no ECO III for ASP.NET.

Turbo Explorer
The Turbo Explorer editions are similar to the Turbo Professional editions, with the difference that you cannot install any third-party components or IDE add-ins. For Turbo Delphi Explorer, this limitation also includes Indy, TeeChart and IntraWeb. However, during installation you still get a question if you want to install Indy version 9 or Indy version 10. The reason for this is simple: while you cannot install or use the Indy components at design-time, there is no limitation to stop you from creating and using them at runtime! But frankly, there are more than 100 VCL controls present in the Turbo Explorer versions, so for most purposes this should be enough to start.
The best part is that Turbo Explorer editions even allow you to produce commercial software, and given the price (free!) anyone using an older version of Delphi should just download and install Turbo Delphi Explorer for Win32 or .NET (depending on your choice).
Note that I wrote "older versions of Delphi", since anyone with Delphi 2006 (or any other incarnation of Borland Developer Studio 2006) will already have the 4-personality edition of Turbo Delphi. Besides, there is a technical limitation that prevents you from installing more than one Turbo version on a single machine (the reason is that they share the same installation folder and registry path, so multiple installations would result in clashes that will render previous installations inoperate). Just stick to one Turbo version per machine, or install the complete Borland Developer Studio 2006 of course.

Turbo IDE
Like Borland Developer Studio, the single personality Turbo IDE's require the .NET Framework 1.1 and some other prerequisites. It may seem a bit strange to need the .NET Framework if you only produce Win32 applications (with Turbo Delphi or Turbo C++ for Win32), but the IDE is a combination of Win32 and managed .NET code.
When you start the Turbo IDE, the first thing you'll see is the Welcome Page. Here, you'll have a chance to see general information, links to more detailed information, and you even have a choice to use the headlines drop-down combobox to make a choice from selected RSS channels (one of them contains weblogs from the Delphi R&D Team, highly recommended if you want to stay in touch with the people who make the product).
On the left side of the Welcome Page, we have the Structure Pane and Object Inspector. On the right side of the Welcome Page, the Project Manager shares its spare in the upper right corner with the Model View window (useful for UML or Together designer models), and the Data Explorer (showing dbExpress and Borland Data Provider (BDP) connections to databases). Also on the right side of the Welcome Page is the Tool Palette, replacing the horizontal component palette from the older Delphi IDE. Apart from components, the Tool Palette can also show code snippets as well as project targets, depending on the active page in the middle of the IDE.

VCL Designer
If you're working on a VCL (or VCL for .NET) project, then you can experience the new features in the extended VCL designer. One of them is called Designer Guidelines, and results in small straight lines in different colours that have special meaning. Black lines indicate that the distance between the controls and the border of the form or frame is OK. Blue lines indicate that the components have the same top, bottom, middle, left or right alignment, while a horizontal pink line indicates that the text within the controls are aligned (like a TLabel and TEdit for example). Apart from the "snap to grid", the controls will now also "snap" to the blue of pink lines, which really helps to produce good looking user interfaces.

Code Editor
The Code Editor of Turbo Delphi also shares the new features introduced with the Borland Developer Studio 2006. If you look at the following screenshot, you'll see only a few lines that are numbered (every 10th line, with a dash at every fifth line, and the current line also numbered to help quickly identify the current line number). You'll also see green and yellow vertical indicators in the left margin. These colours have a meaning: green means it's safe, since this code is saved in disk. Yellow means it's not saved, since these are changes in the source code (modified lines or new lines) that are not yet saved to disk. So if the power is cut, then your changes may not be saved. This helps to get a feeling when it's time to save your file. More importantly, if helps you to identify the places in your source file where you've made changes in the past few minutes (it always helps to remind yourself what changes you've made in the code editor recently).

The Delphi IDE also helps to generate code using a new feature called Block Completion, where you type "begin" and the code editor automatically completes the block by generating "end" and placing the cursor between the two. Same thing with "try", which gives you a "finally" and "end". Writing case statements has never been easier, especially when enumerated types are included, since the code editor will now automatically generate all possible case labels for you!
Another helpful feature is called Live Templates which not only produce a code snippet, but allow you to navigate through the fields in the template. Typing "for" followed by a has the following effect, for example:

The entire code for-snippet is generated, and you can now name the index variable. If you press , you can navigate to the next field (the starting point), and another moves you to the List.Count field. You can modify them all, and once you're done, even the variable declaration for the for-loop variable "i" will be generated for you!

Turbo Delphi for Win32
Developers using Turbo Delphi for Win32 will be happy to learn that about 20 special FastCode routines are now included in the Win32 RTL, increasing the performance of existing Win32 applications just by recompiling them using Turbo Delphi! Anyone still using Delphi 6 or 7 Professional can benefit from moving to Turbo Delphi 2006, which also offers language enhancements like the new for-in-do loop.

Turbo Delphi for .NET
Delphi developers who have not yet dared to move to or play with the .NET Framework, and for that reason may have skipped the Delphi 8 for .NET, Delphi 2005 and Delphi 2006 versions, are highly recommended to examine at least the free Turbo Delphi for .NET Explorer. WinForms, ASP.NET Web Forms and even VCL for .NET components are available to build several types of .NET applications.
Unfortunately, Turbo Delphi for .NET does not include the Deployment Manager for deploying ASP.NET or IntraWeb applications. Also, while Turbo Delphi for .NET supports ECO III, we can only make the ECO models persistent in XML files (and not databases, for which the Enterprise edition of Borland Developer Studio is needed).
Turbo Delphi for .NET includes Database Explorer, Reflection and even the WinForms Control Import Wizard (although that one will not work with the Explorer edition, since that one is limited in that you should not install third-party controls or IDE add-ins). Apart from that, the installer of Turbo Delphi includes additional tools like InterBase 7.5, Rave Reports Borland Edition, and the NUnit Unit Testing Framework.

With the release of the Turbo product line, the Borland Developer Tool Group (DTG) or "DevCo" shows its dedication to developers, and is going back to its roots with entry level versions that will be picked up by students, hobbyists and others to spread the word (just like Turbo Pascal was embraced amass more than two decades ago). If you do not currently use the "full" Borland Developer Studio, then I can fully recommend that you at least download your favorite flavour of Turbo Delphi, Turbo Delphi for .NET, Turbo C++ or Turbo C# and give it a go. You won't be sorry, promise.

The Turbo Explorer website
Download the free Turbo Explorer editions (including mirrors)
Free Turbo C++ Database Development manual

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