I’ve just read Marco Cantu’s comments about a few of my posts. (I’m honoured Marco!). The crux of Marco’s comments is that Delphi developers fall in to two distinct camps. Those who want Unicode and those who don’t. Therefore Codegear had to make a choice on whether to make it easy for camp 1 or camp 2.
There are a few problems with this hypothesis.
- There are more than two camps. I fall under neither for example. I want Unicode. I really do. I wanted (or rather needed) it so much in fact, that I implemented Unicode support using Delphi 2006. I would like to be able to move to Delphi 2009 (after all it is the latest and greatest, and where I can expect the most support, and where I hope migration to 64bit will be easiest), without having a major dip in the quality of my software.
- By choosing to change the meaning of PChar and String and all those methods that ultimately called Ansi versions of windows functions, what Codegear did was make it difficult for everybody. Those that are not interested in Unicode have work to do, and those that are interested in it also have work. Anybody who’s done the conversion knows that the biggest problems are places where PChar has been used as a pointer to a byte. Buffers and bookmarks in dataset descendents for example. So it’s never just a re-compile.
- All those who are defending Codegear’s decision, keep saying it’s easy to make the move. It’s x days work, it’s no big deal etc etc. That maybe the case, but experience tells me that making such a change will result in a far greater hit to the testing burden than actual development time.
I’m almost ready with my migration to D2009. It was probably harder (ironically) than most, because my application already was Unicode compatible through use of Widestrings and TNT unicode components, but it still wasn’t that bad. The thing is though I know for a fact that my application has gained a few (only a few mind you, I’m optimistic) bugs. It’s inevitable. And because most of the problems were to do with buffers and pointers, it’s those subtle, “it was ok on my machine” type of bugs. The testers are not going to be too happy. The first thing they ask when they receive a build is what should they concentrate on. My answer this time is everything. I’ve touched every single piece of functionality. Most (if not all) their automated tests are probably broken (I haven’t told them that bit yet!), so not only do they have a lot of testing to do, they have a lot of test code to migrate. And at the end of all this what does our application gain. Nothing. At least those who have Ansi applications can say we now have Unicode support. We can’t, we had that already!
I think Codegear had a dilemma, and quite a few people must have had a few sleepless nights trying to figure out what the best thing option was. Whatever they had chosen, would have caused someone, somewhere grief. Had they gone for any other option, I’d probably be writing a post complaining about it. I’m like that!