C# – What tools exist to convert a Delphi 7 application to C# and the .Net framework?


I maintain an old PC-only application written in Delphi 7. Although Delphi has served me very well in the past I now only use it for this one application and find my skills with the language diminishing. Its syntax is too different from my 'day job' languages of Java/Ruby so it takes me longer to get into the groove of writing new code, plus it is so old I have not used many interfaces so the code is not managed which seems ancient to me now!

Many of my users are moving to Vista which may run the app in compatibility mode or may have GPF problems depending on how their PC is configured by their IT department, so I have to do some maintenance on the application. I'm wondering if I should jump to a more familiar stack.

Is there an automated tool that will do the legwork of converting the code base to C#, leaving me to concentrate on the conversion on any non-standard components? I'm using an embedded database component called AbsoluteDatabase which is BDE compatible and using standard SQL throughout, and a native Delphi HTML browser component which can be swapped out with something from the Microsoft world.

How good are these conversion tools?

Best Answer

I am not aware of any automated tools for making that conversion. Personally I would suggest you stick with Delphi, maybe just upgrade to a new version. I have seen a couple code DOM's that attempt to convert from Delphi to C#, but that doesn't address the library issue.

CodeGear (formally Borland) has a tool for going from C# to Delphi that works OK. I would assume the tools that go the other direction will work the same (requiring a lot of editing). Here is a Swedish tool that works on the same CodeDOM principle to go from Delphi to C# (and a number of other languages). There are others, I just can't find them right now.

Another option would be to upgrade to a more resent version of Delphi for .NET and port your code to .NET that way. Once you get it working in Delphi for .NET (which will be pretty easy, except for the embedded DB, unless they have a .NET version) you can use .NET Reflector and File Disassembler reverse the IL to C#. You will still be using the VCL, but you can use C# instead of Object pascal.

Another similar solution would be to port it to Oxygene by RemObjects. I believe they have a Delphi Win32 migration path to WinForms. Then use .NET Reflector and File Disassembler reverse the IL to C#.

In short, no easy answers. Language migration is easier then library migration. A lot of it depends on what 3rd party components you used (beyond AbsoluteDatabase) and if you made any Windows API calls directly in your application.

Another completely different option would be too look for an off shore team to maintain the application. They can probably do so cheaply. You could find someone domestically, but it would cost you more no doubt (although with the sagging dollar and poor job market you never know . . . )

Good luck!