18 Sep 2003 mrorganic   » (Journeyer)

Some interesting news from Borland about their new C++ tool: CBuilderX. The IDE is Java-based, the VCL seems to be missing in action, and it's unclear at whom this tool is aimed. Embedded developers? System coders? Who?

As a longtime user of C++Builder, I am decidedly ambivalent about this change in direction. I never much cared for the Visual Control Library (VCL) -- it was an Object Pascal library, written for Delphi, and shoehorned into C++ via some really nasty hacks and compiler extensions. The C++Builder IDE (also the same as Delphi's) leaks memory and crashes at least twice a day. And don't even get me started about the various database technologies Borland has adopted and abandoned over the years: BDE, ADO, IBX, DBExpress (although the last may survive into the new product).

For all the problems C++Builder had, it was a good RAD tool -- you could quickly get a GUI database app and running, much faster than you could with, say, Visual C++. And now it seems that Borland has made the decision that C++ is no longer an appropriate RAD tool -- if you want RAD, you will have to use Delphi (or whatever .NET incarnation of it comes along).

What concerns me about this new product is that, for the money, it doesn't bring much to the table. You get a bloated and slow Java IDE, huge resource requirements, no GUI builder, etc. Borland is intending to use wxWindows as the GUI library, which is a good thing (it's a good cross-platform GUI library, if a bit too MFC-ish for my taste); but there's no GUI builder, and even if one appears, it probably won't support VCL-to-wxWindows conversions -- the differences are probably too great. So you don't have much backward-compatibility either.

It seems to me that with a copy of EMACS, GCC, and wxGTK, I can do the same thing Borland is offering -- only I can do it for free.

Lots of discussion on this topic here.

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