The programming language I use for Behold is Delphi. I originally started over 10 years ago with Fortran, moved to Turbo Pascal, then Delphi 2 (1996), upgraded to Delphi 3 (1997) and finally stuck with Delphi 4 (1998) which I’m still using today.
So I haven’t upgraded to Delphi 5, or Delphi 6, or Delphi 7 (2002), or Delphi 8 (2003), or Delphi 2005 (9), or Delphi 2006 (10), or Delphi 2007 (11). The extra features of the newer versions never were enough to require me to switch away from the familiarity and stability of Delphi 4 which I was used to.
… until now.
The version I’ve been waiting for is just about here. The twelfth incarnation of Delphi, originally called Tiburon as its beta name, has been announced and will be available shortly as Delphi 2009. It’s got the one feature I wanted and need for Behold: Unicode integration.
Unicode is a double-length character set that has been standardized and is used internationally. It is capable of displaying character sets of practically every language on earth. The old ASCII charset has only 256 possible characters, and had to do a complicated page overlay to implement other character sets. Unicode fixes that.
All Windows operating systems since Windows 2000 have used Unicode as their native character set and the Internet uses it as well. But few programs, especially genealogy programs, have made the switch. Some I can think of off the top of my head are PAF, GenoPro, GenDesigner, Osk, Deudos, GENprofi, GEDitCOM, GenealogyJ and Genbox. I’m not sure if all they support it everywhere: in all their fields, their titles, inputs, reports, charts, the program interface, and their GEDCOM export and import.
I’ve only seen a few examples of Unicode GEDCOMs so far. Here’s a good small example.. Currently, Behold cannot read that.
But the goal is not to enable Behold to read the handful of Unicode GEDCOMs that are out there. The real goal is make Behold a Unicode program, so that when I add editing, it will all be in Unicode. You will be able to list information about your relatives in their native language and be able to store the original information as it was. For example, maybe you have a Romanian birth certificate with the name written in Romanian. It is very valuable to display the name in the native language along with an English transliteration and the English equivalent, because that is the name you’ll have to search to find other documents.
So my plan is to finish version 1.0 of Behold first. Then as part of the 1.1 version, I’ll switch to Delphi 2009 and include Unicode capabilities in Behold. But unless you have a Unicode GEDCOM, this will not have a major impact on Behold until version 2.0 when editing, and therefore Unicode editing, is implemented.
It really is impressive that Delphi 4 still works and works well. It says a lot for the quality of that product. And I’m looking forward to all the other enhancements that Delphi added over the years.