On Leaving Borland

 Posted by at 12:33 pm  Work
Oct 212007

A recent post to the borland.public.delphi.non-tech newsgroup asserts that as a compiler guy, I shouldn’t be wasting my time doing anything else. This is my reply.

m. Th. wrote:

First of all, Danny, I’m very glad to see you here… :-) …but let’s start a little ‘short story’ (dunno if you remember them) ;-)…

Danny Thorpe wrote:

Yes, I’m now working on core infrastructure for the PicLens plugin in its plethora of browser/platform combinations: IE/Windows, Firefox/Windows, and Safari/Mac. Firefox/Mac is on the horizon and Firefox/Linux is on the wish list.

You forgot Opera.

It’s a little difficult to build plugins for a browser that doesn’t support plugins, wouldn’t you agree?

m. Th. wrote:

But, imho, you forget other thing, much more important: You are a compiler guy. (At least from Delphi 1 since I know you, IIRC). God knows if you are good or bad, but definitely you are a compiler guy, imho.

Your memory transcends delerium, or you have been grossly misinformed.

I did not begin dabbling in the Delphi compiler code until around Delphi 5, after there was no one left to work on the compiler. I saw a vacancy, and I stepped into it. While it is true that I had passion and vision for where the Delphi language could be taken, and some small success in working on the compiler, that is only a partial truth, a selective filter in the eye of idolatry.

The whole truth is that I have worked on a wide variety of stuff in Delphi and outside of Delphi, moving from one technology area to another by “following my nose” ala Alice in Wonderland. For as many areas as I have dug into in software, there are twice as many creative outlets I tinker with outside of software: woodworking, metallurgy, ceramic flux chemistry, cider making, and other fields that blend science and art.

One of the worst things you can do to a creative person is brand them with a label. A label is the kiss of death for cross-discipline creativity.

I left Borland and Delphi not for lack of interesting things to investigate next, but because I was no longer allowed to follow my nose to explore new directions. In achieving small successes with the compiler, I received the “compiler guy” label, and was suddenly too valuable to the project to be allowed to work on anything else. At the same time, Borland corporate made it clear that while the company was burning down around us it had no interest whatsoever in investing in Delphi to push the envelope and advance Delphi’s thought leadership postion in the tools industry. So even within the compiler coffin, there was no room to breathe.

Even in a brief discussion concerning my getting involved with the tools group spinoff later retracted to Borland subsidiary, the only thing Borland brought to the table was the “compiler guy” label. Why would I return to the cage I had just mustered the courage to escape?

m. Th. wrote:

My son, WHAT are you doing out there??? Looked at cooliris.com – just cool, but com’on Danny, browser plug-ins? Isn’t, of course, something bad per se (in fact not at all), but, again, AFAIK you, doesn’t fit to your way of being.

I’m following my passion and fulfilling my need to grow and evolve.

Clearly, that does not fit the guilded cage you imagine for me.

Clearly, you don’t know me.

m. Th. wrote:

Some small recommendations: 1. open your browser 2. type in www.codegear.com 3. Choose from the menu ‘About Us | Jobs’ 4. Follow the instructions on screen. :-) I’m pretty sure that there’s something for you. (A R&D engineer perhaps? ;-) – as you were in D2 times?…) Then you’ll find your peace of mind, imho. Or, more directly, speak with Allen. Just my 2cents, you know…

An invitation to roll back time – you are truly generous! Ah, to be 20something again. To be a wide-eyed junior engineer working with Anders and Chuck, Gary and Zack and even Philippe, redefining the development tools playing field in perilous and exciting new directions.

Very tempting, your offer. Doubt it, I do. 20something, I am not. Borland of 1990, Codegear is not.

Time marches on. So shall I.