NodeJS and Smart Mobile Studio
For those that follow my blog and group (Delphi Developer on Facebook) I have recently got a new job. I now am a happy developer at Visma.com, which is one of the largest providers of retail and financial solutions in Europe. On average our systems process more than two million transactions every single day just in Norway alone.
Working at Visma is not only a stamp of approval, but also a great opportunity to learn and contribute to one of the most solid companies of Europe, a company built on innovation, Delphi (yet it started as a pure Delphi company) and excellence. So it’s a great honor to work there.
While I am not permitted to divulge anything special regarding our work, it is common knowledge that we have both a Delphi department and a dot net department. The older Delphi department takes care of hardware (the cash registers and point-of-sale machines all run Windows Embedded with Delphi software and have done so for roughly 15 years), while the dot net division handles everything else.
Needless to say, I am now in a position of learning rather than teaching. I really love my job now, because the organization is so well planned and the quality of the work and genius of my fellow co-workers is among the best in the world. We also get to work on top of the line hardware, the software money can buy – and in return for our dedication we get the best benefits in the market – coupled with working in a friendly group of people who really know what they are doing.
I must admit that I have never been in a company where the collective knowledge and level of expertise is so high. I have always had to present rules and procedures for effective work, so I cant express my relief of getting a job where every detail has been thought out and clearly defined.
It’s been a while since I have been looking forward to going to work; Now I practically jump out of bed – and drive to work with a smile on my face. And driving distance is now 15 minutes as opposed to 70 minutes 🙂
While it would be natural for everyone to think I ended up in the Delphi department, I am now actually a full-time C# developer (gasp!). Which means I am right now in “mental reorganization mode”, where my mind is spending most of it’s time absorbing new knowledge, connecting topics back to my Delphi background, and figuring out new ways to do the same (programming techniques havent really changed, we have just come up with new and more effective ways of doing the same thing).
If you are worried that this is yet another “Oh i’m leaving the Delphi scene” post, then you are dead wrong. It could not be more wrong, because working with C# and other platforms has only strengthened my view of object pascal as a superior language. With superiority I am not talking about the framework or the RTL, because this is the achillees heel of object pascal in this day and age; I am talking about syntax, structures and how we approach problems and describe solutions.
Object pascal leverages the amount of energy it takes to analyse and “get into” a codebase. The human brain recognizes human words faster than it does symbols, so behind my stance you will find scientific reasoning. Im not just a Delphi fan-boy with no clear reasoning other than “I like it better” to show for it.
So in fact, I am porting the best things dot net have to offer – back to object pascal. So my work for pascal is not going away any time soon.
Also, I have been using C# for a few years (mono mostly) so there is not much change in my life, except that now my 08:00 to 16:00 core time is spent in C# rather than Delphi.
I must admit that it does take some getting used to not seeing Delphi first ing in the morning. I have done that for some 20 years in one form or another (give or take a turbo pascal). Just how used to Delphi I have become sort of took me by surprise. But after some 20 odd years; well, I guess it’s natural to miss a daily event after all those years.
Extending smart pascal
I have to admit that I have never been more proud of the Smart Mobile Studio team as I am right now. While Delphi en large is being slowly eroded from larger companies, Smart Mobile Studio has the potential to utterly replace all forms of Delphi server software and even topple the “big boys” like perl and JSP. And I don’t mean this as a threat to Embarcadero, but rather as an enthusiast for our language – that despite what people say, Delphi is indirectly responsible for object pascal thriving in an alternative market. So should Delphi lose it’s grip — at least Smart Pascal still has a window open so we can get Delphi back in later 🙂
What other object pascal compiler and RTL allows you to build cutting edge nodeJS server applications?
So while Delphi is on the way out for many companies around the world (which is really just a “semi truth”), Myself, Eric, Primoz, Jørn, Christian and Andre have made a new path for object pascal. A path which will not only allows existing object pascal programmers to save their investment and recycle their already hard-earned knowledge — but also a path which will potentially bring more people to object pascal and the Delphi community as a whole.
Smart Pascal is the only form of object pascal that is now running on high-end, corporate scale servers. I have just completed a nodeJS cluster test written completely in Smart Mobile Studio, and I can tell you right now — this is a completely different ballgame. I have worked for huge corporations before, but the amount of data and layers of technical processes I am working on now is forcing me to completely re-think ever aspect of my programming; in fact, it’s re-defining my entire outlook on scalable business logic and fundamental data processing.
Once again we are in a phase of transition. For those that have been using Delphi for a while you may remember when Delphi went from being a purely “local” development platform, to becoming a toolkit with included server-side and easy database management? Well, this time the IT industry is evolving one step further up – going from the classical RPC (remote procedure call), client/server model to pure hardware and platform independence.
So while nothing has changed neither for local win32/64 development or traditional client/server technology – languages must now adapt to a much larger scope. Which means software must be able to scale horizontally (meaning: being able to expand in number, be it the amount of servers dealing with data, or the amount of databases serving the same knowledge).
So a modern server model is not simply A to B, but rather one that can clone itself in order to handle more payload. This is why dot net makes sense for larger corporations, because virtual code does not have the same limitations as native code. Spawning 1 server is no more technically challenging than spawning 10 servers across 10 different sub-domains. This is also why perl and ruby are popular, because script based servers are even easier to scale.
In other words: Delphi’s old IIS and Apache plugins are simply not going to cut it. You can pimp up those technologies to once again make them competitive – but that’s not my job. That’s Embarcadero’s job. And since it’s not happening and I can do better, then yes, I will invest that knowledge in Smart Mobile Studio instead.
Future of object pascal is awesome!
If you translate this post as negative to Delphi, then you are dead wrong. As insinuated, Delphi would retain its position in a lot of companies if Embarcadero took the time to update and get their enterprise tools in sync with reality. With special attention to the XML binding wizard which crashes spectacularly when chewing XSL files which reference other files (the @ include syntax). This alone was enough for Delphi to be kicked out of Hydro, an oil company I worked for earlier. Embarcadero must have lost at least $50K in licensing fees per year from Hydro moving to Java (I know, dont get me started).
If Embarcadero fixes this (and much more) and perhaps dedicate a full sprint/release to enterprise level programming; perhaps include a component framework for networking, active directory and other technologies, Delphi would be more able to compete with dot net and Java.
But I don’t think Delphi is going away. It is down-scaling and is no longer *THE* main-stream product, but it will still be popular and lucrative for many decades to come. No language ever really goes away, it all boils down to the people using it and how well they promote their language and secure their own job future.
NodeJS is the technology which is quickly replacing php, perl and other scripting technologies classically deployed server-side. And this is a blessing! Because it means you can now code both the server and the client using the same language. A language not bound to an economic entity (company) which works on all platforms out of the box.
I have never believed more in Smart Mobile Studio than I do today. Having looked at a dosen alternative routes, even going completely native server-side with Delphi, Smart Mobile Studio is the only system which delivers this amount of power to nodeJS.
Everyone in the Smart Pascal consortium focused on a particular field of technology. I guess I have found my niche. So while RTL updates and fixing will be on top of my list for months to come, nodeJS will be my main field of interest for the Smart Mobile platform.
Providing wrappers for mySQL and Firebird so you can natively connect to them comes first. This will fit in nicely with the dataset classes I am about to commit to our repository.
So to all of you who have been waiting for database management made-easy under Smart, it’s going to be like xmas and your birthday at the same time.
Now let’s build that nodeJS cluster in Smart Pascal itself and claim hardcore server programming for object pascal!