December 5, 2006

Ben Smith on CodeGear

Yesterday, David I hosted a chat featuring Ben Smith, CodeGear's CEO.

The first CodeGear Community Chat hosted the CEO of the new company. You can read the chat transcript (only a fraction of the chat content) and download the audio on BDN. The same page provides also Ben's curricula. I listened to it, heard a few things I liked (listed below) and other I didn't like (for example, the apparent lack of a Linux strategy). Here are some highlights (I tried to quote as precisely as possible):

  • CodeGear aim is to be the "largest independent developer tools company in the world"
  • Delphi will be "including things that may not just be only on the windows platform" (a statement at odd with the fact there seems to be no specific plan for Linux... unless they are thinking Mac!)
  • They really want to improve their tools, "not add a feature here and there and support the status quo" (looks like this is referring to past versions of Delphi...)
  • There will be "a new product in Q1" (means first quarter 2007)
  • "You cannot be the developer company if you don't support dynamic languages (and emerging languages)
  • We are committed to the roadmaps we have, but might anticipate some features.
  • A lot of our customers are still doing Win32 development... we need to focus on their success.
  • Simplicity in the business

As Ben underlined "simplicity in the business" several times, I do have a few suggestions. First, make it simple to buy the product, sell directly and online whenever possible. Have a single price tag (the current 1 USD = 1 EUR equation is crap!). Simplify SKUs and sell plug-ins. Provide a simple flat, all-included, yearly subscription. Second, make it simple to activate them, reducing the hassle on legal owners, as pirates won't be scared anyway. Third, make it simple for partners to work with you. This hasn't been my experience in the past. Finally, make it simple for developers to find out how powerful your tools are and how many news features have been added in recent versions.



Ben Smith on CodeGear 

 And don't forget your "already owners"!!
What about my situation: Freelance, spent 3.000 euros
in  BDS 2006 and now... obsolete! less than a year and
obsolete!! 3000 euros!! and Delphi 7, Delphi 6, Delphi
5... a lot of money... 
Comment by on December 5, 13:39

Ben Smith on CodeGear 

Seems he's a no-nonsense guy, I hope he can bring 
the no-nonsense license agreement back. If they can 
prove they sold one extra copy of Delphi because of 
this new on line license jungle I rest my case. OTH 
I'm sure getting the business on line worldwide will 
increase sales.
Comment by TDaniel on December 5, 15:18

Ben Smith on CodeGear 

 Please, just remove the activation, you know that
warez sites will have a version of the software
without activation "BEFORE" the official version is

It's only a hassle for legit users.
Comment by CodeGearer on December 5, 15:53

Ben Smith on CodeGear 

I see no reason to remove activation. It's true 
warez site have copies, but without any form of 
activation illegal copies would be too easy.
CodeGear needs to sell copies, not to give them away 
for free. Activation could be made friendlier - and 
they could check what codes are used too often or 
from very different geographical locations.
But I do not mind too much about it - almost any 
software had it, why they should not?
I agree with the plug-in model, but I am afraid it 
can be used to buy a cheap version and the use plug-
ins from warez...
They already had to block those trying to install 
Ent packages onto a pro one.
Comment by Kent Morwath on December 5, 16:48

Ben Smith on CodeGear 

Activation might work at the time the product is hot,
but reality is that it is left alone (abandonware)
when subsequent versions have come out.

Borland sold me a perpetual or 99 year license, but
they make it virtually impossible to enjoy/activate
after a few years.

Borland/Codegear simply lost my delphi registration of
an older Delphi version. Why do I have to keep
invoices and other proof of purchasing ? Why is a
paying licensee obeying the agreement worse off then
someone installing warez?

The temptation is very big to actually buy the product
but leave it unopened in the box and actually install
the warez : no hazzle, no (re-)install problems, and
probably if you are using the correct version/SKU no

Comment by Peter T on December 6, 02:51

Ben Smith on CodeGear 

Let's face it: piracy is a issue. Developer using 
pirated copies. Companies buying a single copy and 
using it on several machines for several developers. 
People selling pirated copies. As long as you do not 
sell the software you write perception is low. As 
long your software is sold - and pirated - you know 
what it means - and the missing revenues.
I understand the issues about activation, and I hope 
CodeGear will help legitimate user to take full 
advantage of their copies, but would you let your 
house door without a keylock - just with a 
sign "please don't robber me" upon it?
C'mon! Every pirated copy means less money CodeGear 
can invest in the next release. Don't complain when 
they are behind MS due to scarce resources then.
Comment by Kent Morwath on December 7, 00:13

Activation and Piracy 

I wrote "simple to activate" and stand by it. Removing
activation/registration altogether, won't probably be
a good idea. As I had a few bumps with the current
process, I hope it can be simplified or improved from
the point of view of the legitimate users.
Comment by Marco Cantù [] on December 7, 00:56

Activation /Ben Smith 

I agree that activation must be simplified, and that
our licenses of previous Delphi and other Borland
products should not fall into the abyss.  I too have
had issues, and complained to Borland that they had no
current license information on file, when in reality I
had an architect edition with subscription service
since D8.

Comment by Larry Hengen on December 7, 08:29

Activation /Ben Smith 

I agree that activation must be simplified, and that
our licenses of previous Delphi and other Borland
products should not fall into the abyss.  I too have
had issues, and complained to Borland that they had no
current license information on file, when in reality I
had an architect edition with subscription service
since D8.

In my  mind, Ben is focused on growing CodeGear. 
Great!  The problem is, they are already looking at
Dynamic Languages, and other products, and I'm
concerned they will do so at the detriment of their
existing ones.

Delphi has never been perfect.  There have been lots
of bugs and requests that have never been fixed or
implemented.  In fact, there are currently 128
outstanding Critical bugs in Quality Central for
BDS2006.  Then there is all the work on the product
that could be done to make it better, and that has no
direct monetary benefit.  I for one, want Delphi to
rule the Win32/64 and Linux markets, but this does not
seem to be a priority.  

I think they should committ dedicated resources to
'quality managment'.  Resources  that go through
reported issues and fix them, notifying affected
parties of any work arounds, the status of their
report when work has been conducted on it, and an
estimate of when their issue will be reviewed.  This
would include documentation, additional components,
examples...anything that makes the life of a developer
easier, and helps make them a better developer.  If
its all about us...then show us!
Comment by Larry Hengen on December 7, 09:07

Ben Smith on CodeGear 

 Is it still possible to get a new license for older
versions of delphi such as the simple yet powerful
version 4 client server suite of borland delphi or is
it basically being phased out?

Comment by Clinton on June 24, 19:16

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