Delphi Programming


First released in 1995, Delphi is a Rapid Application Development (RAD) tool for Windows, originally developed by Borland Software Corporation. Delphi existed as a stand alone product through a steady series of releases culminating with Delphi 7 in 2002. For the next release of Delphi Borland focused its efforts on targeting the .NET framework. Delphi 8 was released in 2003 but lacked support for native Win32 development like its predicessors. In 2004 Borland combined its Win32 and .NET development tools into a single suite called Borland Developer Studio, which included IDE personalities for classic Delphi for Win32, Delphi for .Net , and C# Builder. BDS 2006 added C++ Builder to the suite. That same year Borland also introduced a line of stand alone IDEs based on BDS. The Turbo IDEs were free to download but were feature limited. Borland simulaneously introduced upgrades, called Turbo Explorer that added some of the missing functionality. The Turbo and Turbo Explorer products were intended as a stepping stone for hobbists and students to move up to Borland's flagship developer tools but they ended up disrupting Borland's existing business model and were discontinued after only one release.

Following the release of BDS 2006 Borland changed its focus to application lifecycle management and spun its developer tools group off as a separate company called CodeGear. CodeGear renamed Borland Developer Studio to RAD Studio and produce only one major release before merging with Embarcadero in 2008. Embarcadero has continued producing new releases of both Delphi and RAD Studio on an almost yearly basis. With the release of Delphi and RAD Studio XE Embarcadero introduced a starter edition for hobbyists. The latest incarnation is of Delphi is Delphi XE2.

Since its initial release Delphi has revolutionized development by allowing developers to produce efficient, superior quality software rapidly with minimal or no runtime library requirements. Delphi made component development easy and allowed developers to use a single language for development of both front-end and backend modules of an application. Delphi continues blazing a new trail for developers today with the introduction of Delphi 2006 that allows for RAD development on Win32 and .NET and even includes support for C++ and C#.

An important strength for Delphi from its birth to current versions is powerfull components for database development. In fact a user can create simple database applications without writing a single line of code. As easy as it is to dive into Delphi and make something usefull there is nearly unlimited power for the most advanced development projects.

The key features of the product that make it popular with loyal Delphi developers are:

  • it's very easy to create forms based applications for windows, where you drag and drop controls onto forms, write a little bit of code, and you have a program. The VCL is a powerful and feature-rich component library.
  • it's easy to get started, especially if you have a good book to help get you going.
  • there are hundreds of thousands of third-party components (some freeware, some commercial, some open source) for Delphi. Whatever you need to do, there's a component out there to help you get your application written.
  • unlike other RAD tools, like Visual Basic 6, no runtime is needed (you can have a standalone EXE)
  • unlike Visual Basic and other RAD tools, Borland values compatibility highly, and even Delphi 1.0 applications can usually be made to work in the latest Delphi with only minor changes. If you want to know how the other half feels, check out the reactions when Microsoft completely abandoned Visual Basic 6 developers, when they created "Visual Basic .net". Essentially they killed millions of developers work, and forced them to rewrite all their code, and stopped selling and updating the old product (Visual Basic 6) without offering any reasonable upgrade path.
  • You can write code in Delphi that targets classic Windows environments from Windows 95 and up, or the latest ".net" environments, with the same syntax, and the same powerful libraries.


At the core of Delphi is its Object Pascal compiler but Delphi is a RAD tool for its Integrated Development Environment (IDE).

The IDE is where the developer spends most of his programming time. It contains an editor for working on Delphi units as well as a visual forms designer that generates code automatically. The IDE is a two way tool which means that the developer can make changes to the visual forms or the underlying code.

Another key part of Delphi is the included object library known as the Visual Component Library(VCL). Many VCL objects are available on the Component Palette in the IDE for visual development.

Various versions of Delphi include various utilities for resource management, image development, database access and development.


Delphi was originally released in 1995 by Borland for the 16 bit Microsoft Windows 3.x Operating Environment. The following year Delphi 2 was released for 32 bit Windows. A new version has been released roughly once a year.

The chief architect of Delphi was Anders Hejlsberg who later left Borland for Microsoft where he has since been a key figure in the developments of Visual J++, Visual C# and the .Net Framework.

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Delphi Versions
Win16 Delphi 1
Win32 Delphi 2Delphi 3Delphi 4Delphi 5Delphi 6Delphi 7Delphi 2007 for Win32
.NET Delphi 8
Win32 + .NET: Borland Developer Studio 2005Borland Developer Studio 2006CodeGear RAD Studio 2007CodeGear RAD Studio 2009
Other: KylixDelphi for PHP3rdRailTurbo Delphi 2006
More info: Release Dates and CodenamesCompiler Release DatesCompiler Conditional Defines