Chapter COM Support In Delphi

For many years the Component Object Model (COM) technology has been at the foundation of the Windows operating system, both as a way to let applications talk with the OS and to let programs talk to each other. COM is the only object model for Windows that works across languages in a native way. The fact that COM programming was far from easy and that it provided a not-so-robust foundation, was one of the reasons Microsoft mentioned for abandoning it and moving to a managed object model like the one in the Microsoft .NET Framework.

Despite Microsoft calling COM obsolete when .NET was announced, the COM technology is still heavily in use in many Windows applications and is far from dead. COM also provides an easy way to let Win32 applications work alongside .NET ones. In any case, I don't want to delve into a history of COM here or a comparison with .NET. I just want to focus on the fact that even if not growing and not used any more for communication among different computers, COM is still at the heart of many Windows programs. Moreover, Delphi traditionally made it very easy to write COM servers and use existing ones, so many Delphi developers rely on this technology.

Given this introduction, it is relevant to notice that there are significant changes in the COM support provided by Delphi 2009. In particular, the role of type libraries has been significantly downplayed and there is a new type of source code files, Restricted IDL files, that assume a central role for COM development in this version of Delphi.

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