Monday, March 21, 2005

VCL.NET on CF? We control the horizontal...

Danny is making some waves in this post he made over the weekend.  One thing to note is that Borland has never set out to do things only half-hearted.  Unless there is some reasonable chance of success, we will rarely go off and speculatively head down a path.  VCL.NET on CF is one such item that is still being considered and reasoned out (read: Researched... IOW, the “R” in R&D).  Nearly four years ago I brought up the prospect of moving VCL onto the Windows CE platform using the .NET framework on those devices. This was before CF was released.  At the time, there was much poo-poo'ing of the idea because we had visions (delusions ;-) on being able to license the CF designers.  After all it was just a version of the desktop WinForm designer... right?  Fast forward to now and it is quite well known that CF WinForm designer support in the Delphi IDE is currently in a coma...  There has been much moaning and gnashing of teeth over this whole issue.

After following the ensuing discussion both in the comments on Danny's post and the spillover into the Borland newsgroups, I must say that there is more misunderstanding about this whole issue than I thought.  I mean there are several folks who simply out of hand blast the notion of VCL on CF and simply say, “just give us WinForm CF support.”  So we try and clarify by asking if they'd be willing to accept a solution that came with no visual designer support whatsoever?  Then, with a wide-eyed look of surprise, they say,  “Well, of course you need the designer support.”  We're talking in circles here folks.  For Borland to release a product that advertises and touts mobile device support, the expectation will of course be full design-time support.  Then there are those that immediately backpedal and and say that compiler only support is fine.  Read my opening statement about half-hearted implementations.  I'm confused...

Let's recap;  CF/WinForm designer support requires licensing technology from MS, however it is more than just a licensing issue.  It is also a technical one.  Read my comments here and Danny's here, about the issues with CF designers.  Now with VCL, it is a fully Borland designed and built framework.  The VCL designer is also fully Borland designed and built as well.  We have the source code.  We intimately know how it works.  We know where to make the proper incisions in order to repurpose it for another framework.  Do not attempt to adjust your monitor... we control the horizontal... we control the vertical...  Yes, it would be a lot of work, no-one is denying that.  So recall my opening statements about doing something with a reasonable chance of success.  Now the issue comes to whether or not it is something that would be accepted by the customers.  Basically, Danny, the Delphi team and myself are just thinking out loud... which is good because at least you know we are thinking about it. ;-)