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The topics discussed here grow out of the bread-and-butter issues that confront my consulting and software clients on a daily basis. We'll talk about prosaic stuff like Membership Management, Meetings and Events Management and Fundraising, broader ideas like security and software project management, and the social, cultural, and organizational issues that impact IT decision-making.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Borland plans to spin off Delphi

It's the end of an era. And the beginning of another.

Borland Software Corporation announced a couple days ago that it is spinning off its programming languages division into a separate company and seeking a buyer for it. These languages include Delphi, C++ Builder, and Jbuilder, the most widely used cross-platform Java development environment. Delphi, which was the first truly object-oriented language packaged with a visual development environment, was designed by Anders Heilsberg. Anders was with Borland from its inception in the mid eighties until 1996, when he was successfully wooed by Microsoft Corporation, where he has led the development of the C# language. To a large extent, It was Delphi, and its DOS-era former incarnation, Turbo Pascal, that built Borland. And a generation of pc applications. But languages are no longer the corporation's focus. The letter from Borland CEO Tod Nielsen says:
Our intent is to create a standalone business focused on the IDE (Integrgated Development Environment) market, capable of investing in the opportunities that exist for these product lines and advancing developer productivity.... It goes without saying that we will do everything possible to ensure a successful transition of our products and customers to the new entity.
Why do I care? Members Only Software products are all written in Delphi. Delphi has always had a fanatically devoted user base, and I seem to be among them. The ease of use, the great integrated editor and debugging tools, the huge component libraries have made it a natural for our sort of work, where rapid development equates to lower cost to users. So of course I'm wondering what this will mean for the future of Delphi. Is it finally getting a home of its own, or being sent to the glue factory?

Most of the Delphi developers I've checked with are fully in favor of the move. Deepak Shenoy complains that Borland, who has been focusing on their software management tools and not on languages, has not been giving Delphi or JBuilder the investment it deserves, in terms of enhancement or marketing, and concludes:
This is a great step for Delphi (and other IDE products). The team seems extremely excited in a happy sort of way, and seems to be waiting to throw away the shackles that hold them back. The message is universal, and clear: The IDE people at Borland want this, and want this now. It's time for us, the community, to watch them weave their magic.
Another developer, Nick Hodges, writes:
Delphi's biggest problem, of course, was that the product and all the people we know who work on it and love it ("Old Borland") were gradually being marginalized by "New Borland". Well, it sure seems like all the "Old Borland" folks will become part of Delphi, Inc. That's very good news.
And the Delphi folks at Borland do indeed seem to be enthusiastic. David Intersimone, currently the longest term employee at Borland (he's been there since 1985!), says in his blog on the Borland site:
I'’m really excited to be moving to the new company. We'’ve got the right team members, we'’ve got the tool and component partner eco-system, we have the authors, trainers, consultants, and we have the most important part:– a loyal community. Our new company will be focused completely on you and your success.
Long-time industry watcher and former Borlander Jeff Duntemann sums it all up like this:
I think many may have it wrong: Borland isn't dumping Delphi; Delphi is dumping Borland.
So it looks good. A new and as yet unnamed investor, an increased focus on developer relations, and excited team members eager to get back into control of the product. I'm looking forward to the next release!
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