When one thinks of the C++ language the words "power" and "performance" usually come to mind. The beta version of Inprise's C++ Builder 4 Enterprise maintains all the C++ power and performance you expect while adding use- ful enhancements that boost productivity and simplify multitiered development efforts.
C++ Builder 4 compares favourably to its rivals, including Microsoft's Visual C++ and IBM's VisualAge for C++. In some areas, Inprise (formerly Borland) matches its rivals, and in other areas C++ Builder 4 leaps ahead.
In particular, Inprise has injected this C++ Builder version with support for CORBA while enhancing the existing Component Object Model (COM) support. Developers can use COM, CORBA, or both; this is a real plus compared to the other offerings.
Like its competitors, Inprise supports an integrated development environment as well as a command-line approach to projects. Many developers prefer to use the command line and find integ-rated development environments restrictive, but this is certainly not the case with C++ Builder 4.
Inprise's integrated development environment is highly customisable and will suit most developer tastes. I especially liked the support for floating or docking the tool windows and the toolbars; this improves navigation and saves screen real estate.
In this C++ Builder beta version, Inprise also has improved developer productivity with features such as code and parameter completion and symbol tool tips. These capabilities meet head-on with those in Microsoft's Visual C++.
During my development of some test applications, I found C++ Builder's debugging capabilities more useful and stronger than those in rival products. Developers can perform multiprocess and cross-process debugging. Further, C++ Builder supports remote debugging, which is useful in distributed development. Those using CORBA will also find multiplatform event stepping.
Inprise has included some useful wizard-based support to help developers with COM and CORBA efforts. For example, wizards are included for CORBA clients and servers and COM objects. C++ Builder also contains ActiveX and Microsoft Transaction Server component creation tools.
Whether using the code window, graphical tools, wizards, or command-line approach, C++ Builder is highly flexible. While testing C++ Builder, Visual C++, and VisualAge for C++, I found Inprise's offering to be a formidable and appealing contender in developer tools.
The Bottom Line
Inprise C++ Builder 4 Enterprise, beta
Current customers, along with C++ developers who seek an adaptable, useful, and powerful working environment, should consider C++ Builder 4.
Pros: Enhanced COM capabilities and added CORBA object model support; promotes code reuse; great debugging tools; complies with the latest C++ language standard; useful Web component support; easy-to-use wizards.
Cons: Minor beta bugs.
Platforms: Development: Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT; Deployment: Windows, Unix, Java.
Price: $1299 per developer for Professional edition; $3999 per developer for Enterprise edition. Special rates apply for current C++ users.
Inprise Tel (02) 9248 0900