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Borland Developer Studio Ties Windows IDEs

Officials at software tools vendor Borland have combined their Windows IDEs and will release the integrated software later this year.

The Borland Developer Studio (BDS) combines the Win32-based IDEs of Delphi and C++ Builder with the .NET-based C# Builder and Delphi .NET development platforms, as well as support for C.

The move to an all-encompassing IDE was made so customers could continue developing applications on the older Win32-based platform as well as Microsoft's replacement .NET technology.

"The big part of our strategy is not forcing our customers to start from scratch or wait for our customers until their plans line up with .NET," said Michael Swindell, Borland director of product management for Windows and .Net developer tools. "Our strategy is to support our customers on everything they are doing and allow them to migrate at their pace and on their schedule to future .NET technologies."

Borland has been re-aligning its software tools delivery model for a couple of years now, notably its software delivery optimization (SDO) iniative, Together and Core.

While the new software suite could really be called BDS 2006, the company has decided to brand the IDEs individually -- Delphi 2006, C++ Builder 2006 and C# Builder 2006 -- to get customers used to the idea, according to officials. The next release, BDS 2007, will forgo the individual IDE naming convention.

Borland is essentially giving customers three IDEs in one at a competitive price. Delphi 2005 Professional, the current version, is priced at $1,090 for a new user; Delphi 2006 and its other two IDEs, as part of the BDS, will cost the same.

So when customers download or buy a retail version of, say, C++ Builder 2006, they will in reality be getting the full developer studio. Once installed the user can select the language environment they want to use or turn off those they don't need.

Borland officials say the product will be a boon to developers who continue to maintain their Win32-based applications despite the .NET technology upgrade championed by Microsoft. Where Visual Studio has largely neglected Win32 for .NET, Borland said it is committed to continuous improvements to the older technology.

A number of enhancements have been included in the updated version of Delphi, including: Live design guidelines in the Visual Component Library (VCL) to help developers with their form/component layout; programmable live templates so oft-repeated code statements can be re-used and auto-completed; a history manager; and refactoring enhancements.

Visual C++ Builder, which hasn't been updated since version 6, has been brought up to the level of features found in Delphi 2006, which is essentially version 10 of the IDE, Swindell said.

"So that means we've skipped over three versions of C++, so developers are going to be basically inheriting hundreds of new features that were in the 7,8 and 9 versions of the IDE platform," he said.

In addition to the feature updates the VCL, the GUI framework used for Delphi programming, has been synchronized with C++ so that third-party component can be used in either language "right out of the gates," Swindell noted.

Borland is pinning Delphi and C++ to the future of Windows-based applications. According to a blog entry on the company's site earlier this month, officials plan to update the VCL to work on the .NET 2.0 framework; that update will be found in the next release code named Highlander.