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Pascal – Is It Back?

Twenty years ago, in a high school computer science lab, I wrote programs for DOS using Borland Turbo Pascal. A few years later I take the same course in college, nearly fail it, and decide that programming really will not get me far. I move on with other career plans and explore other facets of IT.

JAVA became the de facto standard in “teaching languages” due to the fact that it has a lot of popularity in web development and applications that are “on the cloud.”  Pascal fades off into obscurity.

Or does it?

Come to find out, Borland made the Pascal language object-oriented and renamed the language “Delphi” in the late 1990s, long after any urge to program had been forced out of my body by certain professors whom I will keep nameless.  It was huge in Windows development for a long time until Borland was bought out by several other companies (currently they are known as “Embarcadero“).  Due to the unbelievably expensive price tag (currently $4,325 for a new license and $2,703 for an upgrade license) it has slipped into a “niche market” and really is not very popular.

While the “Delphi” name is copyrighted, the “Object Pascal” language that it consists of is not.  Enter the 2000s and the open-source movement.  The Free Pascal project was born in the early 2000s to create an object-oriented Pascal implementation that is “Delphi-compatible.” The primary development environment for the Free Pascal compiler is known as “Lazarus.” named after the biblical character which was brought back from the dead by Jesus. The Lazarus environment bears a strong resemblance to the Delphi environment that got so famous in the late 90s and early 2000s.

The trouble is, there aren’t a lot of Object Pascal books available.  But I wanted to see just how “Delphi-like” this free, open-source Lazarus product is.

I came across this old Delphi tutorial, a PDF published by Borland themselves about 15 years ago.  I decided to actually try this and see if I could make a text editor in Free Pascal.

See this link for the tutorial PDF

The result?

My little text editor

Complete with an appropriate icon…


And if that’s not crazy enough, what I ended up was a statically linked Windows executable.  No .NET framework or special DLL files required.   Run it and you have it made. Even the screen shots in this tutorial were remarkably accurate.  Suffice to say Lazarus is an outstanding “Delphi clone” and even on a single-core celeron computer, the Free Pascal compiler took me from source code to native executable code in a surprisingly short amount of time.

Crazy? Absolutely. Geeky? Of course – would you expect anything less?

Stay geeky ladies and gentlemen, and have a great week!

P.S. – Yes, those were Windows screen shots.  Considering I try to focus more on Linux, perhaps this might make some of you feel better.


Screenshot from 2015-08-20 21:41:25

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