Delphi Free for Some – Lazarus Free for Everyone!

Embarcadero has announced the Community Edition releases for Delphi and C++Builder. Sounds like a reason to celebrate. But reading the “fine print” is rather sobering, as the license agreement practically excludes anyone but some students and hobbyists, perhaps:

“The Community Edition license applies solely if Licensee cumulative annual revenue (of the for-profit organization, the government entity or the individual developer) or any donations (of the non-profit organization) does not exceed USD $5,000.00 (or the equivalent in other currencies) (the “Threshold”). If Licensee is an individual developer, the revenue of all contract work performed by developer in one calendar year may not exceed the Threshold (whether or not the Community Edition is used for all projects). For example, a developer who receives payment of $5,000.00 for a single project (or more than $5,000.00 for multiple projects) even if such engagements do not anticipate the use of the Community Edition, is not allowed to use the Community Edition. In addition, a developer building solely an app store application would not be allowed to use the Community Edition once the app store revenue reaches a revenue of $5,000.00 or more in a year. If Licensee is a company that has a cumulative annual revenue which exceeds the Threshold, then Licensee is not allowed to use the Community Edition, regardless if the Community Edition is used solely to write applications for the business’ internal use or is seen by third parties outside the company or has a direct revenue associated with it.”

I think there’s no need to be so excited about it. Consider this: you mustn’t have more than $5000 a year (or $416.67 a month), regardless of what tools you’re using. Mind you, revenue, not profit, and even donations count. That makes the offer unusable even for most start-ups, students or hobbyists. So in case you make a bit more than that 😉 and still don’t want to pay the full price for a Professional or Enterprise Edition, you’re back to

Free Pascal and Lazarus

  • Truly free (both as in beer and as in speech) Object Pascal compilers and tools supporting multiple target platforms, including Windows, Mac OS X and Linux, Intel 32-bit, 64-bit, ARM and more. (I haven’t tried the mobile platforms, Android or iOS, yet.)
  • A nice, stable and capable IDE, itself a great example of its own multi-platform support (screenshots).
  • LCL (Lazarus Component Library) – cross-platform, with many components, extensible with your own. (Just a few days ago, I realised there’s an LCL port of Virtual TreeView which I can use in my projects on all the three major operating systems. I’m eager to try it out!)

All free and open, with full source code. Licensed under GPL/LGPL.

OK, Embarcadero still considers Delphi as the Swiss Army Knife of software development and Swiss Army Knives don’t come cheap. Maybe not everybody shares that point of view and some may not feel like paying to find out (30 days trial is just not enough for such a complex tool.) For those, Free Pascal and Lazarus are still a working and probably the best solution.


The Community Edition FAQs suggest it’s fine for anyone to use it for “their own personal use”:

Q: If I work for a company with more than US $5,000 in revenue, can I still download Delphi Community Edition or C++Builder Community Edition for my own personal use?

A: Yes. You can download Delphi Community Edition or C++Builder Community Edition as an individual and use it to develop applications for your personal use and use it to create software for you to sell (up to US $5,000 in revenue, see License Agreement for details).

After all, this sounds more permissive than the EULA itself for company employees.

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