Monday, November 16, 2009

Why I am moving from delphi to .net

This post is somewhat of a conterpoint to Why we didn’t convert to .Net. And perhaps we never will… I would have writen a post earlier, but I have spent most of the last week writing a tender proposal. The tender was for a claims management application with 70 users scattered across the country. My proposal was for a web application, using mvc and writen in c#.

My main objection to the WoW post is not his (or her) conclusion, but the subtext that .net has nothing to offer. Delphi programmers (or at least the vocal ones hanging out in non-technical) seem to have a strong view on what "real' programming is, and .net fails on several points (not native code, garbage collected, large installation footprint) for these guys. My view is that "real" programming is solving problems, and using the best tools for the job. In some cases that is delphi, but increasingly for me it is c#.

I haven't suddenly jumped ship, I reevaluated our (Catalyst's) needs earlier this year. Two things came out of that; most of our futher development will be in web apps, and .net is a better fit for us.

My and Catalyst's needs are not univeral. I don't pretend that my reason for moving apply to everybody. None the less, here are my reasons for moving:

When it comes to performance, my most important benchmark is developer time. As a (mostly) solo developer, I don't have enough time to do all the things that I want. Anything that improves my productivity is good. I find c# faster to develop in.

From an runtime speed, it's hard to find good benchmarks. My feeling is that Delphi is faster, but not enough to make a noticable difference in my kind of apps. .net is let down by the winforms implimentation which (the last time I used it) had painfully slow drawing. The rest of it is plenty fast enough.

Language features:
Garbage collection and Linq. You ever love them or hate them. I love them. Delphi has mostly caught up with the other big ticket items but not these.

The standard library is another .net plus. It may have an enormous footprint but it's certainly extensive.

I work in a small city. Finding delphi developers here is nearly impossible. I only know of dev company using delphi and, for historical reasons, I can't use them.
.net developers is a different story. I could throw a stone out the window and hit one (seriously, they're just across the road).

I am not abandoning delphi completely, I have a number of delphi apps to maintain so I will be using it for a while yet. .net is not a silve bullet either. For web apps I find .net better, but for desktop apps it's pretty much even.