Jul 192003

Delphi for .NET support for the .NET Compact Frameworks (CF) is currently blocked by missing platform support pieces from Microsoft. As soon as Microsoft makes it *possible* for tool vendors to support CF, Borland can start working on it.

We are currently able to compile Delphi source code using the Delphi for .NET compiler for deployment to the CF device, and MS has made the CF redist available independently of Visual Studio. (yay!) While a compiler alone may be enough for a hacker to cobble together some code, it’s not enough to make a useable development tool.

The lynchpin that we’re still working out with Microsoft is debugging support. Lack of CF debugging support for third-party tools is a deal-breaker, plain and simple. Unfortunately, the CF debugging API / implementation isn’t owned by the CF platform team, it’s owned by the Visual Studio team – the one group within all of Microsoft that can legitimately call Borland a direct competitor. Therein lies the delicate politics.

Regardless of whether the Delphi for .NET IDE is enabled to officially support development of applications for the .NET Compact Frameworks platform, a reasonably technical Delphi coder should be able to use Delphi for .NET to at least compile an executable that will run on .NET CF. You’ll need to copy some assemblies from the .NET CF SDK and rebuild the Delphi for .NET RTL against those CF assemblies. You won’t be able to debug the CF app on the device, and you may have to manually copy the exe to the device, but the dccil compiler codegen itself is ready for CF.

So close, and yet so far. Negotiations with Microsoft on this issue are ongoing. Any breakthroughs will be enthusiastically announced on the Borland newswire.