Alex Kirpichny

Alexandr Kirpichny

Chief Product Officer, Ispirer Systems

With the ever-evolving nature of technology, IT infrastructure modernization is becoming increasingly important. Beyond stability, scalability, and enhanced security, modernization brings a number of competitive advantages. For example, innovative apps help your organization effectively respond to the market opportunities, gain efficiency, and engage customers. In a nutshell, application modernization is a critical part of IT infrastructure modernization. This part of your modernization journey we are going to go through in this article.

What is Delphi? A bit of history

Delphi is a high-level programming language that also supports object-oriented programming. But let's start with some history.

Back in 1995, Delphi burst onto the scene as a tool for crafting Windows apps. It was ahead of its time, focusing on making apps centered around data and objects, rather than just pure functions and logic. Think about it – this was groundbreaking stuff! Delphi was like the superstar of languages, speeding up Windows apps development and making friends with databases. Plus, it had this nifty Integrated Development Environment (IDE) that made coding and fixing things a breeze.

Commonly, a story of any program, language, brand or product starts with its name. Therefore, we will abide by the rules. Most people have one straight association with a famous and resourceful programming language called Delphi. If the name of a well-known oracle has occurred to your mind first, you were correct. There used to be a wise oracle who knew many things that should come and he dwelled in the ancient city of Delphi. The program inherited its name after this oracle. It was given by Danny Thorpe. He was a developer of a well-known brand (for those times) called Borland. Most people thought that it could foresee something in the future. In fact, it has nothing to do with the prophecies. It simply had a connection to a database called Oracle. At that time, Oracle was one of the most sought-after databases. Therefore, the name was given logically.

What does migrating a Delphi application mean?

Migrating a Delphi application refers to the process of updating or moving a software application developed in the Delphi programming language. This migration could involve tasks such as upgrading a Delphi version to a newer one, transitioning the application to a different programming language, or moving the application to a new operating system or platform.

Before making a decision to migrate from Delphi, you should have a clear understanding of migration reasons, pros and cons, benefits of the migration to another technology, migration pitfalls and risks. Only after getting a clear understanding that it has real meaning not only “because I just want to do it” you can move further.

The most tricky kind of Delphi migration is moving to a new programming language (C# let’s say). If you ask a developer what it means to migrate an application from Delphi, with a high degree of probability he will say “rewrite an outdated Delphi application to a modern programming language”. However, this is not the only option. Automated migration is a way of transforming your legacy Delphi applications to a modern stack with no hassle and saving a ton of time. To better understand the benefits of using an automatic conversion tool, let's compare the migration speed. On average, a good programmer can rewrite 10 lines of code in a working day when migrating from Delphi to C#. At the same time, Ispirer Toolkit can convert up to 11 thousand lines of code per hour! The performance difference is enormous. However, it should be noted that manual correction of the code may often be necessary after using the tool. But even taking this into account, the use of the tool reduces the migration term by several times.

Issues with legacy software

Drawing from our clients' valuable experience, we've identified the common pain points that drive businesses towards contemplating software migration to newer technology versions.

  • High maintenance costs. Many companies allocate a significant portion of their monthly budget to support and maintain outdated software. These growing expenses prevent them from investing in innovations and modernizing existing tools. This approach to budget allocation negatively impacts business efficiency and profitability.
  • High cost of new features development. Due to the fact that the Delphi language is rapidly becoming obsolete, there are fewer and fewer Delphi programmers. This leads to difficulties in finding developers, as well as the high cost of application development.
  • Security. Due to the obsolescence of the Delphi language, new versions of the language are rarely released. For this reason, today it is inferior in terms of security if compared to modern C# or Java.
  • Outdated UI/UX. Many prioritize the functionality of their software over its visual aspect. However, it is important to acknowledge that the appearance of your app also plays a significant role, especially when targeting an external audience. Some customers who approached us for app migration expressed concerns about losing clients due to outdated aesthetics and confusing navigation.
  • A growing number of bugs and downtimes of the system. Many companies are facing an increasing number of bugs and system downtimes, which often come as unpleasant surprises. However, even a single outdated app with unresolved technical issues can cause system downtimes, slowdowns, and frequent restarts.
  • Incompatibility with new technologies. When businesses aim to incorporate new tools and services into their existing apps, ensuring compatibility with their software becomes crucial. However, if you are still relying on an app developed 15 years ago, the chances of integrating modern tools successfully are significantly diminished. Consequently, your app may lack essential functionality.
  • Decrease in business competitiveness. Many of our customers have chosen to migrate their software as they recognize the need to regain their market position and share. In an evolving market, it is crucial to ensure your software aligns with the latest updates. Otherwise, it's not surprising that your clients may prefer your rivals' services over yours.
  • Benefits of Migrating a Delphi App

    So, you're wondering about the perks of turning your Delphi application into something new? Before you take that leap, let's break it down. Take a look at the benefits you'll score with a modernized app:

    • Seamless support and maintenance;
    • Smaller expenses on app updates and introduction of new features;
    • Overall optimization of IT budget;
    • Higher security and better data protection;
    • Competitive UI/UX design;
    • Better scalability;
    • Possibility to integrate migrated solutions with other corporate software;
    • Higher system productivity;
    • Faster tasks performance;
    • Ability to innovate quicker;
    • Increased user engagement and satisfaction.

    Main pitfalls of Delphi conversion

    Pitfall 1. Language and Paradigm Differences.
    Delphi and such a modern language as Java are distinct programming languages with different syntax, frameworks, and paradigms. Automated tools may not often guarantee the conversion of any code structures to accurately migrate Delphi applications to Java. This could lead to code that is not only syntactically incorrect, but also functionally incorrect or inefficient in the Java context. Manual intervention or post-migration code review might be required to address such issues.

    Pitfall 2. Tracking the wrong modernization success metrics.
    The majority of code migration tools measure successful modernization with the number of migrated lines of code or how much code compiles. But in fact it doesn’t actually mean that the code is running. For successful output of the migration project, it is crucial to stick to the main goal - fully functional application on a new technology. The successful migration is based on three pillars: preserved functionality, increased app performance, and compatibility with clients’ devices.

    Pitfall 3. Framework and Library Dependencies.
    Delphi applications often rely on specific frameworks and libraries provided by the Delphi ecosystem, such as the VCL (Visual Component Library) or FireMonkey for user interface development. Migrating to another language might mean losing these libraries and needing to find equivalent or alternative libraries in the new language. This can require substantial effort to rewrite or adapt the UI components and application logic to work with the new libraries, potentially resulting in significant code changes.

    To mitigate these challenges, thorough planning and assessment of the Delphi codebase, as well as careful selection of the automated migration tool, are crucial. Additionally, involving experienced developers who are proficient in both Delphi and target language can help address potential issues that may arise during the transition. Regular code reviews and testing throughout the migration process will also help catch and rectify any problems early on.

    Migration strategy

    App migration is a tedious task in many ways – too many things can go wrong while performing it. A solid plan and an execution strategy are imperative. They can vary in each case depending on numerous factors. Timely communication and preparing everyone for the change are even more essential. After all, we want to make sure that the process fits into the planned timeline and budget. We can certainly make the teams’ work a bit better and open a new space of possibilities for the whole organization. The condition here is to gather the requirements we should meet. Include improvements to the migration plan, and ultimately set up a bulletproof change management process.

    How to choose a Delphi migration tool?

    In order to migrate an application from Delphi with maximum efficiency, it is important to consider automatic tools. Such tools not only save the developer's time, but also save the budget. Among the main criteria when choosing a tool for migration is the conversion rate. The default migration rate of Ispirer Toolkit is 10k lines of code per hour. This speed saves on average from 2 to 5 times human labor costs.

    Ispirer Toolkit stands out from the competition in a number of benefits:

    • 1. Speed. Due to the smart migration core of the solution, automation streamlines the migration from Delphi as a source and saves your time for more important business tasks.
    • 2. Reliability. Ispirer Toolkit is an automated solution which means it eradicates the risk of human error and provides an error-free conversion process.
    • 3. Flexibility. In terms of flexibility, Ispirer Toolkit is a perfect solution. Customizing the tool according to your application is the best decision for high quality automated Delphi migration.
    • 4. Efficiency. The toolkit is a comprehensive solution as it migrates huge and complex databases and applications.

    Closing word

    This article provides the main benefits of migrating your Delphi application, elaborates on potential pitfalls of the transition and indicates the best tools for implementing a migration project. Ispirer Toolkit is not only a reliable tool but also a highly automated solution which helps to save a great deal of time and effort. Try for free with a 30-day trial and check its effectiveness in Delphi migration.