I’ve always loved Pascal as a language. It was the first language in which I wrote a serious application (Borland’s Turbo Pascal 4.0 for DOS), and I always found its simplicity and structure attractive (even though its idiosyncratic use of the semicolon as a line concatenator rather than a line terminator used to catch me out all the time). At the time, Pascal combined some of the most attractive aspects of Basic (non-obfuscated code compared to C’s sometimes contorted syntax) with the power of C (pointers, variable typing, a variety of flow constructors), and I found it a productive and enjoyable environment to work with. The race for supremacy between Pascal and C was significantly closer then, and Pascal was the language of choice in many British schools and universities. Of course, Pascal evolved to support object orientation and Windows development; Borland introduced Delphi, and C-based languages became dominant in many places. Pascal is still very much alive, however, and still has a warm place in my heart.
I was delighted therefore to see that RemObjects have been steadily working away on building a really strong Pascal compiler and language integration to Visual Studio, called Chrome. Their environment appears to be a first-class citizen in the .NET world, with full designer support for both Visual Studio .NET 2003 and now Visual Studio 2005. Even more exciting from my perspective as a Longhorn evangelist is that they’ve now introduced beta support for Avalon application development. Marc Hoffman, chief architect of their .NET development, writes here about the changes they’ve made to Chrome to enable this support, including to the CodeDOM provider, as well as the addition of full MSBuild support. It looks like he’s got a few places on the beta program available as well if you’re developing Avalon applications today.
If you developed in Pascal a long while ago, and want to see how far the language has come whilst reminding yourself of how comfortable it always was, check this out. Marc, you can add me to your beta program any time!