Developer Stories: Bruce McKibben And The Excellent Macaos

Bruce McKibben has begun programming in 1997. His software (Macaos Enterprise) was one of the showcase entries for the Delphi 26th Showcase Challenge and we interviewed him to get more of his insights on working with Delphi. Go to the Macaos Enterprise website and learn more about the software.


When did you start using RAD Studio/Delphi and have long have you been using it?

The original MACAOS application, the predecessor to Macaos Enterprise, was begun with Delphi 3 in 1997. I have been involved in the project since 2002, Delphi 6. The system uses a middle-tier built in Kylix/RemObjects, for which a RAD Server replacement is under development.

What was it like building software before you had RAD Studio Delphi?

Personally, I have developed or maintained software using more than a dozen different languages (over a span of 40+ years). With the exception of Delphi and Visual Basic, they were all mostly suitable for console or batch type processing. Delphi brings nearly unlimited processing functionality and flexible, modern UI design together in an intuitive development environment. Prior to using Delphi, I didn’t have the tools to think in terms of building apps with the user experience in focus.

How did RAD Studio Delphi help you create your showcase application?

Macaos Enterprise is the fourth generation of this functionality. The second generation version basically hit the wall, and we nearly concluded that Delphi was not up to doing the job. (The third generation was built as a Delphi UI wrapper around an MSVC++ motor, which we later abandoned.) That led to a total rebuild of our internal data structures and our graphics engine — making use of newer technologies that had come into the toolset by then. Looking forward, it appears that Delphi provides more than we are likely to need for the forseeable future. The long-awaited release of the Delphi Linux compiler has allowed us to finally start developing a replacement for our stable, but aging, middle-tier which was developed with Kylix 3.

What made RAD Studio Delphi stand out from other options?

There are several things. Pascal is a much more readable – and thereby self-commenting – language than C-based languages. The Delphi forms designer paradigm is a very efficient UI-design methodology. The availability of 3rd-party components is a huge plus. The somewhat recent addition of mobile platforms opens up new possibilities which we have yet to fully explore.

What made you happiest about working with RAD Studio Delphi?

I think perhaps it is the event driven program model which makes it easy to expand the application incrementally. I like that I can try out things without needing to build everything before I can run it.

What have you been able to achieve through using RAD Studio Delphi to create your showcase application?

Our goal has been to make it easy to get an electronics development project from development to production. There are powerful electronics design (CAD) tools out there, and manufacturers have powerful editors and CAM tools at their end. But there is a gap between these two which we aim to fill with intuitive, task-oriented functionality. Our system is widely used in Scandinavia (the home markets of our manufacturing partners), but we believe that other markets can also benefit from these tools.

What are some future plans for your showcase application?

The wish list is long. As mentioned, we have a replacement middle-tier in development. We also have a companion mobile app that is not far from release. Another current focus is expanding the functionality of our Assembly Data Manager – which is used to prepare Pick-and-Place (PnP) and Bill of Materials (BOM) data for the components purchasing and assembly phases of electronics manufacturing.

Thank you, Bruce! Check out his software showcase entry by clicking the link below.