Jumping into the nascent business application development platform market, Embarcadero tomorrow will release FireMonkey, a tool that will enable developers to create rich applications that perform natively on iOS, Mac and Windows systems.
FireMonkey joins Microsoft’s Visual Studio LightSwitch 2011 as early entrants into the market for UI-focused, component-based development platforms used to create data-intensive line-of-business applications that run on multiple operating systems. Where Microsoft is counting on its third-party ecosystem of component providers to flesh out the offering, FireMonkey ships with about 200 user-interface controls that include GPU-powered scalable vector and 3D effects, according to Michael Swindell, senior vice president of product management for Embarcadero. “We know where we should be going with the experience of non-entertainment applications,” he said.
He added that FireMonkey is similar to Embarcadero’s Visual Component Library framework in that developers and other third parties can create customized components for use in FireMonkey applications.
Swindell emphasized that FireMonkey is focused on heavy-duty business applications—not entertainment or advertising sectors, where rich Internet applications already are strong. To that end, FireMonkey introduces a feature called Live Binding, which lets developers bind any UI control or graphical element to any data source, he said. Native CPU application execution and data access allow FireMonkey applications to perform at a very high level, he added.
Further, FireMonkey includes a style engine that gives developers the ability to use styles to change an application’s look, layout, gradient effects and more.
“We saw this as a gap and as where applications need to go,” Swindell said. “Companies continue coming out with 1990s-style Windows Forms applications and rolling their own frameworks. There hadn’t been anything out of the box to get [developers] there quickly and with a lot of power.”
FireMonkey will be built into the fall releases of Delphi XE2, C++ XE2 and RAD Studio from Embarcadero.