The modern class of C and C++ tools are workhorses of PC applications development. And Objective-C tools have proven the rapid application development means of choice for native mobile development for iOS and Mac OS X.
So wouldn't it be nice to let the developers with the skills and proficiency in building native applications for the prominent enterprise computing clients of yesteryear (like Windows) gain ease in bringing better apps to all the mobile and fat client types demanded for the foreseeable future?
Embarcadero Technologies thought so, and long enough ago that they began re-architecting their compiler and C++ Builder development architecture in time to now provide write-once, run-natively-anywhere-that-counts benefits. [Disclosure: Embarcadero Technologies is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]
And now is when it really counts, with the advent of Windows 8, growing Mac OS X use and exploding sales of iOS and Android clients.
Embarcadero on Monday made generally available C++Builder XE3, which allows a common development effort to natively target -- using a new 64-bit compiler -- Windows 8, Mac OS X and Intel (not yet ARM) clients. And coming this summer, the same compiler outputs to run those same apps natively on iOS and Android mobile clients. ARM support comes at end of 2013.
What's more, more of the Embarcadero stable of tools and IDEs will leverage the architecture. So more tools to build more apps once that run on more devices natively. The compiler architecture is extensible to make more tools that make more code more extensible to more platforms. Almost rhymes.
Vision to close chasms
The vision to bridge the long-standing chasm between mobile and full client environments -- never mind the Windows-Mac chasm -- came as Embarcadero acquired the CodeGear technology set from Borland back in 2008. Embarcadero said it immediately set out to build C++Builder XE3 then, to allow one code effort for many more targets.
"The old way of supporting multiple platforms was not practical," said Michael Swindell, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Product Management at Embarcadero in San Francisco. That old way included highly redundant and costly development to target different platforms. The old way forced ISVs and enterprises to make guesses about which clients to target, despite an extremely dynamic market and fast-changing users preferences.
"We needed to re-organize for a multi-client world," said Swindell. He said that ISVs and developers can hedge their bets by using C++Builder XE3 now, with the knowledge the same code will be able to quickly tuned and deployed in Q3 of this year on iOS and Android.
The common mantra behind Delphi and C++ Builder, as well as any RAD IDE, of course, is to make less code to more work fast. C++Builder XE3 takes that a big step further by applying Embarcadero's agile benefits to a common architecture supporting the major IDEs to deliver cross-client platform development on all the major targets. Full Delphi support on the new C++Builder XE3 underlying architecture comes this spring, with all the Delphi database connectivity and web services support built in.
And there are some additional synergies that should appeal to the commercial ISVs. The C++Builder XE3 architecture is already "app store ready," enabling ease in bringing the apps to Apple and Google app stores. But for enterprises, Embarcadero is also developing synergies between its AppWave capabilities and C++Builder XE3 so that enterprises too can gain a streamlined means to deploy the apps for PCs, Macs and iOS and Android uses from an AppWave app store. Expect that in the fall, said Swindell.
So the net-net on this from my perspective is that Embarcadero has primed the pump for accelerated enterprise mobile development for 2013. And, it's given developers with C and C++ skills the means to build and deploy via app stores mobile apps on-demand, via subscription models, even inside enterprises. It also means that apps can be designed with common logic and requirements and then delivered on multiple devices, so workforces can use those apps anywhere, anytime. Very powerful.
Best of mobile to enterprise
In essence, this brings what we have come to like about consumer and entrainment and web apps -- but to the workplace on all relevant platforms natively -- in a way that's not too complicated, costly or time-consuming.
I'm not seeing that in any comprehensive way from Microsoft, Apple or Google, nor from any PaaS development offerings in the market.
And so I would expect that PaaS-hungry providers may look to OEM or otherwise license the C++Builder XE3 technology to bring to a cloud deployment model, and to better cross the PC-Mac divide, and to consolidate new apps development for all uses.
The C and C++ IDE tools and C++Builder XE3 technology, incidentally, need not only run on-premises. Embarcadero is exploring the means to make it all cloud-based, and to make tool clients using HTML5. A hybrid future for such multi-device development can't be too far off.
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