Native Android development for Delphi programmers

As you may know, and indeed as I have written about, Mono for Android has taken a bit of a hiatus. While it is still expected to be a viable development tool, and still a very convenient option for .NET developers, I thought it would be prudent to look up other options and ensure I covered various angles.
Naturally I considered regular Java development, using wither Eclipse or IntelliJ. However getting to grips with distinguishing the idiosyncrasies of one C-based language from another (Java vs. C#’) wasn’t enormously high on my agenda.
It turns out there is another option looming on the horizon, which should be of high interest to Delphi developers.

“Diane, I’m holding in my hands a small box of chocolate bunnies.”

If you’re in the Delphi world you should already be aware of RemObjects Oxygene compiler for .NET, sold as Delphi Prism by Embarcadero. Oxygene for .NET is a native compiler that generates .NET executables. It encompasses all the latest aspects of the .NET framework and makes them available in a Delphi-like Pascal-based syntax, but doesn’t trouble itself with supporting decades of legacy DOS and Win16/Win32 specifics that have no purpose in the managed .NET world. This gives a smooth, fast .NET compiler that works very nicely from within the Visual Studio development environment.

“Diane, never drink coffee that has been anywhere near a fish.”

Coming later this year from the same stable is Project Cooper. This is the same Oxygene compiler offering the same Delphi-like language but generating code for the Java VM. It is in early stages of development as yet, but is already showing great promise. You can see a video of an early build here.

“Oh Diane, I almost forgot. Got to find out what kind of trees these are. They’re really something.”

Of course, targeting the Java VM means it is ideally suited for developing native Android applications, and already does so even at this early point. I’m currently testing out Project Cooper, getting to know how to use the Android SDK more directly (i.e. not through the Mono for Android layer), and planning on what to put in a couple of talks I have planned on the product.

“Diane, I am now upside-down.”

On 14th June I’ll be talking to the Developers Group about Project Cooper in London. Then on 17th June I’ll be in The Netherlands talking about it at an SDN event.
I’m also hoping to write about the product as it develops its way towards release, showing how to accomplish various things that Android apps commonly need to do using Project Cooper.

“Harry, I have no idea where this will lead us, but I have a definite feeling it will be a place both wonderful and strange.”

Before signing off this time, I have to say that, given the lack of space on my Android phone I’m really enjoying the native app sizes you get from Project Cooper. And being a Delphi developer since 1994 (yes, I know it came out in 1995) the language fits like a favourite glove. So, right now I’m rather pleased Mono for Android has a 4 month break so that I can enjoy getting to know Project Cooper.

“Damn fine coffee! And hot!”

Oh. And in case you are wondering, Project Cooper is named after FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper from the classic series Twin Peaks by David Lynch.

Update 1: Project “Cooper” was released at the end of November 2011 by RemObjects under the name Oxygene for Java and can be purchased from the RemObjects store. Update 2: I’ve started writing some articles on Project “Cooper”, or Oxygene for Java as it is now called. If interested, you can find them on my web site here, and of course you can see all my Oxygene for Java blog posts by clicking on the Oxygene for Java filter link just below.