This blog post is the beginning of the "Learn to Program in Delphi" series. My name is Paweł Głowacki and I have been using and teaching Delphi for the last 20 years. I love Delphi programming and I do it also in my spare time. I think you can call me a "Delphi Maniac". Simultaneously with me David Millington, C++Builder Product Manager, is starting a similar series called "Learn to Program in C++Builder". David is also crazy about programming.
We are expecting that you have some previous experience in programming, but not in Delphi or C++Builder. In coming weeks we are going to take you through the process of building a simple "calculator" application.
In coming weeks David and I are going to publish weekly blog postings where you can learn programming step by step with Delphi and C++Builder. As much as possible we will try to synchronise topics and content so you could even switch from one track to another. It will also be very interesting to see the same application developed in two languages, written the “Delphi way” and the “C++ way”.
The Fifth Art
You want to learn programming, but do not know where to start. You just came to the right place! In ancient China there were four arts that all well educated people needed to have. In the 21-st century programming is an art that is really useful to master. It can be very very useful to know how to write a computer program to solve a certain task, especially when you are a student. Programming will also make you smarter because it teaches how to think in a more organised way.
You need to have a program in which you are going to write your programs. This is called an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) and was invented many years ago with the ancient ancestor of Delphi called Turbo Pascal that combined together three previously separate programs – compiler, code editor and debugger – into one integrated programming environment. You can start learning programming using just Notepad and command line compilers but in the longer run it is not the most productive environment. With the IDE you get a lot of help like syntax checking of your code as you type and much more. Why not be like a pro?
Today we are going to start learning to program in the Object Pascal language used in Delphi Integrated Development Environment. Object Pascal is probably the best choice to start with programming. From the very beginning it was designed for teaching good programming practices. Over time it grew up as the language of choice for building all kinds of software from Internet communicators like Skype to professional music production like FL Studio.
The time right now is very good to start learning to program. In many countries October is the first month of the new academic year in universities. It is also good timing because right now you can start to program completely free! Delphi and C++Builder not only comes with great programming languages to learn, but also with extensive collection of reusable software components and easy to use visual screen designers to get from an idea to a working app in record time
Today let's just focus on downloading and installing Delphi Starter edition. Next week we will go into writing your first lines of code.
Let's get started! You will need a computer or laptop with Windows, because Delphi itself is Windows program. With Delphi Starter you can build applications only for Windows. With higher versions of Delphi you can also build applications for Mac and mobile apps for Android and iOS. That is a big thing! You only need to learn one language, get familiar with just one development environment and you can natively compile your projects to all major desktop and mobile platforms. That's unique and only Delphi and C++Builder can do it.
The first step is to make a free purchase of Delphi or C++Builder Starter. You will then receive an automatically generated email with your own serial number and the download link to the installer program. The installer is about 182 MB in size. You need to download and run it. You will need to have an Internet connection because the installer will be downloading installation files from the Internet. On one of the first screens there will be an opportunity for you to enter the serial number that you have received. The next step is to select which platforms and optional features you want to install. In a couple of minutes you should have the development environment ready to start working.
Next week we are going to start writing our first programs!
What is Starter Edition?
So what is Starter Edition after all? Is it free? Can it be used commercially? Can I use it as a student?
Put simply, yes (with caveats) for all three.
Starter is intended to get people started with Delphi or C++Builder, and that can be either getting started with programming in general – such as a student – or for starting something else, such as writing software for your startup company. It is a cut-down version of the Professional version and it contains only Windows 32-bit compilation. That's enough to learn to program, or to write a saleable Windows program or a almost-complete mobile application (where you buy Pro + Mobile to finish and build for Android or iOS.) If you are a startup, you can do almost all your development for no cost at all.
The only license restriction is based on revenue. This isn't legal advice – please read the EULA – but roughly speaking, if you make enough money that you could buy Pro, we ask that you do.
- So if you're a hobbyist? It's free. Enjoy!
- If you're a student? It's free. Enjoy!
- If you're a startup? It's free, but once you start making sales and get incoming revenue, you need to move to Professional or above.
- If you're an existing company? You may find the revenue / commercial use options mean that Professional, Enterprise or Architect are a better option for you. Remember there is always the fully-featured trial version if you just want to try RAD Studio out.
That's why we say Starter is to help you get started. If you're using it and start making money, then please buy a copy; if you aren't, it remains free. Either way we're very glad you're using our products, and this series of blogs is a great resource to get your started.