March 18, 1996

Playing it fast and useful

Delphi 2.0 doubles 1.0's speed, multiplies developer teamwork

By Peter Coffee

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Delphi 2.0, released this month by Borland International Inc., will more than live up to Version 1.0's well-earned reputation for superior speed and software engineering discipline.

We'd recommend Delphi 2.0, in any of three versions priced from $500 to $2,000, for rapid development of many different types of software products.

We're astonished, moreover, to note that it has been less than a year since the first release of Delphi debuted. Borland has achieved ambitious goals for greater development productivity, more extensive database facilities, and application speeds that accelerate Delphi 2.0 code beyond anything but C++.

Delphi's 32-bit update continues, however, to share its title as an Analyst's Choice with two rapid application development competitors: Microsoft Corp.'s Visual Basic 4.0 and TopSpeed Corp.'s Clarion for Windows 1.5.

Visual Basic remains a smoother path to simple applications for those who don't write code as their main job, and offers earlier access to Microsoft's first steps toward network-based OLE (Object Linking and Embedding). Clarion for Windows has a language with discipline comparable to that of Delphi's Object Pascal, plus a data-driven development cycle that makes for quick design and delivery of an attractive database front end.

How did Delphi come from nowhere to challenge these more established tools in less than a year? For one thing, Borland officials assert that Delphi was developed from the beginning with a 32-bit architecture in mind, and our test results make this a plausible claim.

Freed from the segmented address space of the 16-bit Windows environment, Delphi 2.0 ran PC Week Labs' language-independent Tak benchmark more than 2.4 times as quickly as Version 1.0 when both were using integer variables, and more than 6.5 times as quickly as Version 1.0 when both were using double-precision floating-point variables.

This made Delphi 2.0's integer Tak speed faster than that of Microsoft's Visual C++ 4.0, Symantec Corp.'s C++ 7.2, and even the final beta version of Borland's own C++ 5.0 compiler. Only Watcom International Corp.'s C/C++ 10.5 surpassed Delphi 2.0's speed on this concise but intensive measure of generated code's agility.

But software's speed is sometimes better measured with a calendar than a stopwatch--that is, in terms of the time that goes by between de