Aug 192004

Nick, old friend, you are so far out in the weeds it’s not even funny.

A few weeks ago, Nick Hodges blogged about his views of how to grow the Delphi community.

I skimmed his article at the time and filed it under “The Usual Bleatings,” but one point in particular has been eating at me ever since. Nick’s a great Delphi advocate and good friend (I’d trust him with my car keys but not with my fridge) and I think he’d agree that when somebody lets rip a real stinker you can’t just sit by and ignore it. So here we go…

Calling for Borland to cut off Delphi and set it adrift? Claiming that Delphi coders don’t do enterprise systems? Proposing that isolation is the cure for what ails ya?

Isolation is not the answer. You don’t grow a product in a competitive market by denying the outside world exists. The Delphi team must face its competition head on, because that’s exactly what customers do when evaluating what tool set to use for their next project. The Delphi team must find ways to make the Delphi tool set more productive and more relevant to the needs of paying customers.

And who are those paying customers? Yes, there are a lot of hobbyists who use Delphi, but hobbyists aren’t the ones who are buying 100 seats of Delphi Architect at a time. The high-end boxes make up a much larger chunk of Delphi sales (dollars and units) than the peanut gallery pundits would believe.

How does Delphi benefit by being part of Borland? Credibility. Staying power. Companies that buy 100 or 1000 seats of Delphi Architect at a time don’t spend that kind of money on products from fly-by-night startups. If you think little ol’ Borland has its hands full competing with multibillion dollar giants, imagine how Three Guys Coding, Inc will fare. Actually, you don’t have to imagine – just look at the venture capital graveyard that is Silicon Valley.

Don’t need ALM you say? Balony. If you are doing any kind of software development beyond File: New: Homework Assignment, you are already doing Application Lifecycle Management. If you’re not aware of that, then you’re probably doing it badly as well.

ALM is relevant to teams of 10, 1000, and two developers, in one rented cubicle or scattered across 16 time zones. Doesn’t an independent consultant have to draft a proposal of work based on customer requirements, and isn’t such a consultant measured (and paid) by meeting those requirements? How do you do those things if your definition of software development begins and ends with a code editor?

Consider how Object Oriented Programming was received when it was first presented to the masses. Procedural programmers didn’t get it. It wasn’t part of their experience, and they didn’t see how OOP would provide any benefit to their 10,000 lines of procedure calls. And you know what? They were right. OOP didn’t catch on in the industry until it was made relevant by tools and libraries that solved real problems better than the old way of doing things. The same was true for event driven programming, and for high level structured programming in general. Ah, for the good old asm days, when program structure was a page break and data types were something in your head.

Isolationism is precisely what has hurt Delphi in the past. Been there, done that.

We can do better. And we will.

Hit me up for a beverage of choice at BorCon, Nick. Just promise you won’t cry into anything expensive. ;>