Interview with Marco Cantù

  • Delphi Team of developpez.com :
    Can you please introduce yourself to the community of www.developpez.com ?

    Marco Cantù :
    I'm the author of a number of Delphi books, published in the US and in many languages and countries. I wrote ten Delphi books in English and they were translated in over 15 different languages. I'm also a consultant, trainer, and mentor... not only on Delphi but also on XML and Web related technologies.


  • Delphi Team of developpez.com :
    What was your career path as a developer ?

    Marco Cantù :
    After school and university, I started writing on the C++ language and was hired by a training company, to teach C++ and later MFC to Microsoft developers. But I was giving also Windows API classes (using C) and other low-level stuff. I worked also with OWL before Delphi and the VCL become available. At that point I left C++ and moved almost all of my writings and teaching to Delphi. Later I become interested in Linux (starting with Kylix) and Web development, delving into XML, XSLT, and recently JavaScript and AJAX.


  • Delphi Team of developpez.com :
    What do you think about the evolution of the different versions of Delphi, and especially about Turbo products and the new Delphi 2007 for Win32 ?

    Marco Cantù :
    I like how CodeGear is reviving Delphi, a product Borland has almost abandoned even though it was making money. The Turbo versions helped spread Delphi again... to newcomers but mostly to developers who used Delphi in the past and lost track of it. Also, similar low-cost or free versions are great for schools and universities to spread Delphi in the labs. The new version, Delphi 2007, this is a version I like a lot. Vista support is nice, the IDE is so much stable and complete than in the past, and even the help is usable. Of course, it is not perfect, but it is so much better... now you get all the great features of Delphi 2005 and Delphi 2006 but in a stable IDE.


  • Delphi Team of developpez.com :
    What did you love in the last releases of Delphi ?

    Marco Cantù :
    Being a programming language-oriented person, I like the language improvements a lot, form the for-in loop to the class data and strict private capabilities, which were long due to the part of the Delphi language. Also records and operators overloading are nice. Of the VCL I like the new panels with gird and flow positioning of the child controls. And I like the new dbExpress IV. But most, I find the IDE with live templates, the error insight and the help insight so much more productive!


  • Delphi Team of developpez.com :
    What would you have liked to find in Delphi ?

    Marco Cantù :
    Unicode support in the VCL is really a must for a modern tool. Also better threading model and support, as we are getting multicore CPUs and our programs can hardly benefit from them. Finally, I'd like to see an object-relational mapping solution, even if simple, part of WIn32, like ECO is in .NET


  • Delphi Team of developpez.com :
    What do you think about Delphi for PHP ?

    Marco Cantù :
    I have used PHP only for small script, never worked on large PHP projects... so I'm not very fond of the technology. The IDE looks nice, and I might get a future project up and running with it to make some experience. I have to say I'm looking forward to the future CodeGear Ruby IDE with more interest than the PHP one.


  • Delphi Team of developpez.com :
    What do you think about .NET ? And Delphi.NET ?

    Marco Cantù :
    .NET is a great technology that Microsoft is often pushing in unnatural directions. A virtual machine for a single OS is a nonsense. Now Silverlight (WPF/E) in its future 1.1 incarmation will start making a justice of .NET. Silverlight implies Microsoft is not trying to use .NET to sell more updates to Vista... but to serve developers and users at large, even those on different operating systems. This is a complete change from Microsoft.

    Delphi .NET was late to the game and is loosing more and more. But I like VCL.NET, which not only is much better than WinForms, but is only compatible with the Win32 counterpart. When Microsoft moves developers to new technologies, they like them to cut bridges so there is no way they can go back. CodeGear can let developers target both .NET and Win32 with a single source. Too bad that VCL.NET doesn't run on Mono,


  • Delphi Team of developpez.com :
    To you, what is the reason for the lack of success of Delphi.NET compared to Delphi Win32 ?

    Marco Cantù :
    Delphi Win32 is so much better than what Microsoft is offering in that area. Delphi .NET has nice features but (being to late for each version) is offering less than Visual Studio provides for .NET development. This explains a lot.


  • Delphi Team of developpez.com :
    Do you think .NET 2.0 implementation in Delphi Highlander comes too late ?

    Marco Cantù :
    Yes, it is late, considering Microsoft is working on .NET 3.5. Still, it is not too late to get back on track, as many features like full WPF and Silverligth support are not in Visual Studio either at this point. So it CodeGear can skip intermediate features, provide good support for the new features in ASP.NET and start integrating XAML tools and VCL/XAML mapping and porting technology... it won't be too late.


  • Delphi Team of developpez.com :
    Do you think a "Delphi-win32-only" developer has a future ? Do you think it is mandatory to migrate to .NET ?

    Marco Cantù :
    For Internet-related tools (including popular applications like Skype or Picasa) and business client/server applications, it is hard to beat a Win32 program today... and for some more time. Where .NET is big is in its .NET strategy, both server side (ASP.NET) and now client-side (Silverlight).


  • Delphi Team of developpez.com :
    Have you ever used ECO ? What do you think about it ?

    Marco Cantù :
    I have a limited experience with ECO, and I like only parts of it. I like its relational mapping ability, not so much the MDA modeling approach. And I find it too complex, you change something by mistake (and due to changes from version to version) and it is easy to be unable to keep the program compiling and running.


  • Delphi Team of developpez.com :
    Do you use other programming languages ?

    Marco Cantù :
    Not extensively, unless you count JavaScript or XSLT as programming language. Which they are, but in a limited or specific domain. And so is GXI, an-XML based language I'm contributing to write.


  • Delphi Team of eveloppez.com :
    Which tools (apart from Delphi) do you mainly use for your developments ?

    Marco Cantù :
    I use Delphi, at times compile server side programs with Kylix, write my XML / GXI / XSLT / some of the HTML with an editor I've written in Delphi (and hope to release freely soon).


  • Delphi Team of developpez.com :
    What do you think about the creation of CodeGear ?

    Marco Cantù :
    I'm very happy about it. I was really fed up with Borland neglecting its IDE tools, that this change in direction was a very positive one. Even of the process was not smooth (selling, not selling) the final result is good enough. Still, I hope they'll remove their financial ties with Borland, not because this will make a huge difference in practice, but because it will make in the perception people have of the company.


  • Delphi Team of developpez.com :
    You wrote numerous books about Delphi, do you have plans for new ones ?

    Marco Cantù :
    Right now I'm writing a small book focused on Delphi 2007. By focused I mean, covering only what's specifically new in Delphi 2005 to 2007, and meant for people who already know Delphi but are stuck with Delphi 5/6/7. This is the majority of Delphi users these days. So the book will not be like Mastering, but will be focused on new features, smaller, cheaper... and probably sold on a print-on-demand system. Unluckily I've recently been very busy with other projects, so the book is getting late.


  • Delphi Team of developpez.com :
    What are your links with CodeGear ?

    Marco Cantù :
    I have many good friends in the company, some of them I've known for 15 years now. I have a good relationship with the Developers Relationship team lead by David I and with many developers in Delphi's R&D. Plus a few product managers. Beside being a technical partner and now also selling the product in Italy though my company, I don't have a formal business relationship with CodeGear... I mean they don't pay me to promote Delphi or anything like that.


  • Delphi Team of developpez.com :
    As a participant in CodeRage 2007, what would be your feedback on this online conference ?

    Marco Cantù :
    CodeRage was nice but also a little messy, particularly in the first day. When you have over 100 people in a chat is is hard even to read what people are talking about. On the other hand, it was a great way to show the new products to everyone... only, I felt that 5 days were too much for an event like this.


  • Delphi Team of developpez.com :
    What are your projects to come ?

    Marco Cantù :
    I'm working on a Delphi 2007 book, as mentioned, I'm hoping to be able to publish my XML editor with its programming language to the public, working on several web sites (including newsgroup feeds), keeping my blog up to date, working a lot with JavaScript and web development tools. For the future, I'm looking into Ruby and into SIlverlgith as two totally different but interesting technologies. And I'm using more and more of Google's APIs.


  • Delphi Team of developpez.com :
    And last but not least, would you have a message to deliver to the french-speaking community who is going to read this interview ?

    Marco Cantù :
    Just a greeting from someone living at 200 kilometers from France and planning to travel around the country next summer... I've been a few times in the Cote d'Azur for work (this is also the area I live closer to), won't dislike to have other opportunities...



The Delphi team makes a point of thanking Marco Cantù for having devoted to us of his time to answer this interview.

Find the whole of the interviews (In French) carried out by the Delphi team.