Pascal is an influential imperative and procedural programming language, designed in 1968–1969 and published in 1970 by Niklaus Wirth as a small and efficient language intended to encourage good programming practices using structured programming and data structuring.
However, Pascal today is a modern programming language. Its golden era is from the late 80's to the early of 2000's. Though today it's no longer widely used, Pascal compilers are still actively used and developed. The syntax is simple and easy, yet powerful. Pascal compilers are known as very very fast compilers that make C-like compilers look like a bunch of snails.
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Pascal / Object pascal was used in schools during the 2000's to teach kids the basics of object oriented programming.
Pro Understanding of basics
Because of the verbosity and easy syntax, Pascal language is relatively easier to be learned and understood, even for someone who has no programming knowledge. It's said that Pascal code —if written well— is like reading pseudo code.
Pro Cross platform
Pro Still active
From the early roots of Pascal, Delphi has been developed and is still actively supported. It is used in many desktop applications today, and even supports multi platform coding.
Pro Clear syntax
Pascal's syntax is clear and concise, for example:
procedure test(); begin DoSomething(); end;
Pro Enforces good programming practice
Numerous strong compile time checks with optional runtime checks ensure one doesn't do stupid things and even when one does (because the compiler can't prove it at compile time), the binary will check and report it at runtime.
Correct modular programming implementation with proper namespacing, no file inclusion hack.
Pro Easy GUI creation
Visual Basic may have predated Delphi but Delphi was the ground breaking visual designer which set the standards expected today by most GUI developers. Its rich component set was well designed, structured and extensible, it even has the ability to display live data from the attached database in its data controls.
Pro Assembler Code and DLL/SO creation
You can put Assembler code in Intel or AT&T formats, to achieve great results of speed and accuracy. It is possible to create Dynamic Link Libraries or their equivalent in Unix-like systems so it's relatively easy to use and powerful.
Pro Fast compilation
The compiler is fast, really fast. Compared to C/C++, the delphi compiler is designed to compile a decent sized desktop application in seconds rather than minutes.
Pro Well balanced for desktop development
For desktop development, Delphi is productive, the code is easy to understand, compilation speed is blazing, and it produces well performing applications that are easy to deploy. The perfect balance between C# and C++.
Using the Free Pascal Compiler (the main Pascal distribution) you can code in a language that can be procedural and imperative now, but it can became object-oriented simply adding a directive at the start of the source
Pro Tons of academic reading
Being known as the programming language for education, especially in the 90's, there many academic reading and tutorials available on the internet.
Pro Rich existing libraries
Both shipped with implementations and spread all over the web. Both natively written or bindings to libraries written in other languages. Typically to build non-trivial applications there's no need to surf the web as many things are implemented already. Streaming, output templating, socket & networking, web, database, image manipulation, high performance graphics, (de)compression, (de|en)cryption, regex, unit testing, json manipulation, google API, indexing, multithreading, external process management, the list just goes on and on!
Pro Language depth
Object Pascal is being used to write custom kernels (Ultibo) and operating-systems for various ARM boards. So the way you work with the code scales from low-level to pure OOP high-level. Object Pascal has the same level of depth that you find in C/C++ but with added productivity.
Pro Extensive third party libraries
There are large collections of third party components, many free which enable developers to add wide ranging and complex functionality to their code with ease
Pro Fast execution
The compiler generates fast and optimized code. No stop-the-universe garbage collection.
Pro Automatic Memory Management
The new Delphi compilers are powered by Automatic Reference Counting to ease development.
Pro Excellent Database development
Pro Incredible GUI design tools
Lazarus and Delphi are both incredible GUI design tools, making rapid development a reality.
Making changes to a GUI doesn't mean switching tools or waiting for things to load, it's right there as part of your core tools.
Pro Available on a ridiculous number of platforms
FreePascal is available on/for Intel x86 (including 8086), AMD64/x86-64, PowerPC, PowerPC64, SPARC, ARM, AArch64, MIPS and the JVM. Supported operating systems include Linux, FreeBSD, Haiku, Mac OS X/iOS/iPhoneSimulator/Darwin, DOS (16 and 32 bit), Win32, Win64, WinCE, OS/2, MorphOS, Nintendo GBA, Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii, Android, AIX and AROS.
Pro Component based (reusability, decoupled, rich design architecture)
Pro Suitably close to modern languages, without the pitfalls
It was developed as a teaching language and it shows. No syntax pitfalls and gently encourages good style.
Pro Reliable language and code base
Most code from the Turbo Pascal days in the 80s still compiles, yet the language has since been adapted and extended with modern concepts, introducing OOP and interfaces, exception handling, native Unicode support, anonymous methods, generics, ARC and more.
Pro Dynamic evolution of language.
Con Niche language
Most use of this language will be found in jobs supporting legacy code. It will be hard to find things to do with this language outside of that niche.
Con No up-to-date version of language standards
In 1983, and update in 1990, the language was standardized with two standards: ISO/IEC 7185:1990 Pascal and ISO/IEC 10206:1990 Extended Pascal. However, Object Pascal extensions to the language have no official standards but in 1993, a draft proposal for object oriented Pascal standard was re; for review purposes only. There are no standards for modern features and enhancements, thus various Pascal dialects like Delphi or HP Pascal has their own enhancements and features.
Con Unnecessary heavy syntax
Begin.. end. Pascal would have been great with curly braces.. but then again, that's what C is for. It's an academic language which was used in the past, but not much anymore today.
Con All variables, types, constants and functions must be declared at the beginning of the code