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February 11, 2006

Dreaming a New Delphi Era

There was the Turbo Pascal era. There has been the classic Delphi era. Now a great technology, a great community, and a DelphiNewCo Inc. are ready to enter a New Delphi Era.

What does it take for this dream to come true? Here is a set of ingredients I've been thinking about over the last year or so, but I've also seen mentioned in other posts including Deepak's blog (Deepak, I swear I thought and emailed about these before reading your great post!).

More Platforms

To live another 10 great years, Delphi needs to open up to new platforms. Those planned recently (64bit, Avalon, PocketPC and similar devices) are certainly intriguing, but the new MacIntel, the Firefox browser platform, the Linux server and client platforms, the web services and integration platform are all ideas that come to mind now. But R&D should keep an eye on what's happening around and be able to adapt Delphi to changing scenarios faster than in the past.


More Web

The most relevant platform, overall, is right now the web platform. There should be a Delphi web strategy. Following Microsoft along ASP.NET is not the answer. Just by assembling WebBroker (multiserver, multi-OS), the Delphi AJAX-precursor (Internet Express), a flexible scripting model based on XML and XSLT, with a decent sitemap technology, you can have a solution that leaves Ruby on Rails far behind and ASP.NET at a distance. (BTW, I have most of these pieces working even if not together, this is not a dream, but a reality!)


More Open

A company cannot accomplish this by itself. The traditional alternative was to form alliances with other companies. The new way might be to form alliances with other communities. Delphi must live in and along the growing open source culture, instead of conflicting with it in name of a proprietary world. This doesn't need making Delphi open source. It only means making Delphi open. An open platform to plug in other languages (why not even Perl, Python, and the like?). It means following Microsoft lead in some areas is OK, but there is a lot of development taking place elsewhere (Mono, AJAX, Google and Amazon Web Services platforms, XML, Firefox, web scripting, Flash, to name just a few unrelated technologies).


More Communication

And like JBuilder, I'd like a Delphi IDE able to communicate with another Delphi IDE, local or remote. I'd like to do a full code review of the project of a Norwegian company while I'm sunbathing in the Caribbean (or the opposite, you never know). Of course, we'd be chatting with the Delphi-embedded chat, use an IP-phone, and I'd receive an electronic payment. Of course, if I have a doubt I'd check a couple of newsgroups and a collection of ebooks.


More Integrated Software

Delphi has started incorporating open source contributions from the community, and this is great. But more can be done along this side. I'd like to see the Context Editor bound to Delphi. I'd like to see Beyond Compare bound to Delphi. I'd like to the most widely distributed Delphi application, Skype, bound to Delphi.

Integrating StarTeam in Delphi is great (as long as ALM-Borland doesn't ask for a lot of money for this: if not they'll be able to sell a Delphi plug-in, as they sell one for Visual Studio). But I want Delphi to have out of the box the best integration for open source version control systems, like CVS and subversion! I'd like to see CodeCentral turn into a subversion system with projects easy to download from the IDE and be able to get right away any of the Delphi open source projects on sourceforge (and there is a huge number!).


More Alternatives, Smaller Core IDE

As another example, turning Delphi into an MDA solution looks a little too ALM-ish and too little programmer-oriented to me. I'd like to see at least the same effort towards a platform independent and database access independent solution (but I have too many friends working on Instant Objects not be be biased, here)

As third example, I really like having Together in the product to build great digrams out of my working code, but if this means an unstable product taking twice as much memory, I could as well go back to manual drawings... but I'm probably digressing.


More Subscription Levels

Delphi is still sold on shelves through distributors. Sorry. It is year 2006. Sell it online. Move to a subscription-based model. Add value to the subscription by leveraging the community: level 1 subscription gives you the basic tool and the free newsgroups and web site, level 2 gives you ebooks, video training, gurus newsgroup and the like, level 3 gives you a personal trainer skyping with you and coming to your company every now and then. And, why not, level 4 will give a company wide license to Delphi up to 50 seats at the price of 25, with extra components and consultants (and a kitchen sink, courtesy of Corbin Dunn).

On this topic I liked and agreed on most of the points of this newsgroup post by davout (who are you?) davout http://dev.newswhat.com/amsg/borland.public.delphi.non-technical/43eaf769@newsgroups.borland.com.html.


More Flexible Distribution

Create an integrated distribution of plug-ins and a common sale model. The plug in distribution could be like Firefox's. It is really great. Level 1 subscribers could have free plug-ins. Level 2 and 3 subscribers can have a few paid components to pick in their deal. Everyone could buy more components and tools, including training and consulting time, through the DelphiNewCo. Components vendors and consultants could still do direct sale, but they should find this integrated approach gives them an extra value.


More, New Marketing

Delphi marketing should leverage the thousads of applications written with it. Should leverage its community. Even sales could be pushed that way (sell ten subscriptions and your is free). The slogan could be "a case study a day...". Some best selling and highly regarded applications around the world are written in Delphi. That is the best marketing you can have: buy a page in a tech magazine and print the names of all those apps!


More Community

Let the community prosper, not (only) with more resources but with increased involvement. The key element, I guess, is that even if the community hasn't got the financial means to own the DelphiNewCo, it should feel the company on its side and be willing to get involved. Borland has had a loyal community, but it often felt betrayed. The DelphiNewCo could get a dramatic boost if the community feels this is a company worth its trust, feels this is its company, the company devoted full time and with all of its effort to make Delphi the best development tool, for at least another ten years!


“Our” Company, "Our" CEO

And before I forget... I agree that David I would be a great CEO for the DelphiNewCo and that they should stay in Scotts Valley. We'll miss the Borland name for sure, the DelphiNewCo will have lots of barbarians ready for the fight. Long live Delphi.





 

20 Comments

Dreaming a New Delphi Era 

" buy a page in a tech magazine and print the names 
of all those apps!"
I love it!
Comment by on February 11, 02:29

NewCo 

Great post Marco, very much to the point.

Get Delphi ready for the future to come, this is the
main challenge, and I'm sure we all - Delphi lovers -
can make it a reality.
I'd love to see more investment in Win32 Web Services
support (please: X509 support), more technical
articles on the BDN, and new language personalities
(IronPython?)

I'm excited:-)

pawel.glowacki
Comment by on February 11, 12:04

Dreaming a New Delphi Era 

Well, it's great that not only me see in that 
direction.

my thoughts (posted to newsgroups):
1. add JBuilder personality to BDS
2. add Kylix personality to BDS
3. add interbase personality to BDS
4. damn, add Pascal 7.0 personality too!!!
(I know it sounds silly, but there are some people 
still using it -
in universities and so on)
5. provide new BDS API that would allow everybody to 
add other
    language/development personality to BDS
    (maybe someone will make an Oberon personality for 
it, huh)

as for JBuilder - does anyone care about on which 
platform
the app is written if it runs anywhere? I guess he 
doesn't.
the same is for Kylix.

for all other's plaforms just write a debbuger, based 
on java.

so user writes app on windows and runs and tests it 
where he
wants - at this moment it is not very big problem when 
there are
wmware-like software there.
 
Comment by Michael Skachkov on February 11, 17:41

Dreaming a New Delphi Era 

I wish a open source core, but managed for QA 
supervision... guess a community that add supports, 
patches, enhance the compiler, write database drivers
... 
Comment by Roby on February 11, 18:08

Dreaming a New Delphi Era 

Great post Marco!!

I hope the DelphiNewCo Inc. read the post.

It sounds terrific, I agree with you.

I'm just a simple fan of Delphi from Spain.

Thanks for your great books!.
Comment by TonyG on February 11, 19:49

Dreaming a New Delphi Era 

Great Vision! I would like to see more involvement
with  local colleges.  Classes in Delphi at the
community college level, maybe offer older versions of
Delphi at dirt cheap prices for students to get them
hooked on Delphi just like the rest of us are.  This
creates a revenue stream from old versions that have
outlived there usefulness and brings in new blood.  At
any rate there HAS TO BE BETTER TRAINING.  Right now
if you have a problem in many other languages you can
google for the answers but in Delphi it is currently
OK but not great.  NewDelphi needs a whole team of
people just thinking about new ways to market and sell
Delphi, ways that get new people involved not just the
old Delphi nuts.  There is no incentive for colleges
to teach Delphi now or for students to learn for that
matter.

Or maybe offer the basic versions a low low prices and
offer plug ins that bring it up to speed in increments
as a person or company needs.  If they only want win32
why would they have to pay for web development until
they need it.  Aggressively market the basic version,
it would be like selling razors and then keep selling
add ins like razor blades.  The razor blades could
keep it going.  I for one have many many tools that I
don't use but if they were offered and marketed
separately maybe I would want to add that to my system
especially if training came along with that new
module.  The price of Delphi could be more reasonable
and the add ons could be more expensive, and the
combined product could keep the prices up but you only
pay for what you need.  Also sales would show where
future development should go.

Marketing Marketing.  There are probably a zillion
ways to market Delphi but all of these ways should be
weighed, picked through, discussed and the best ones
tried.

How about the community speaking out about what they
would like to see, wow no more guess work!

Bottom line if NewDelphi only targets the people that
all ready love it, like me, it will die, we NEED NEW
BLOOD to keep it going.
Comment by Tony Ford on February 12, 03:46

Allow purchase and download online 

I still can't believe how difficult it is to buy
Delphi in some countries. All I wanted to do was give
them my credit card number and for them to let me
download BDS 2006. Instead I had to spend several
weeks talking to a local distributor, mess around with
invoices, and then finally wait for it to be delivered
by snail mail.
Comment by Mick on February 12, 05:46

Dreaming a New Delphi Era 

I agree with you. I have some considerations:
1. Are we sure that IDE market is so profitable?
2. I think is not a good think to have an "all in 
one" IDE. It's better to have an IDE with different 
personalities depending which language you like.
3. There are a lot of good free IDEs for Java 
and .NET languages. The only lack is a free IDE for 
Delphi (Chrome for VS is not Delphi and Lazarus is 
not so stable an is not available for .NET).
4. Delphi Power is not the language itself but the 
rich component palette inside the IDE.
5. If you want to survive in this market you must 
convince all unsatisfied developers that Delphi can 
be the difference for all kinds of development: after 
last version I'm not so sure It's so simple.
6. Introduce Delphi in Universities and schools!
7. Semplify Delphi integration with Ms Office and 
Open Office: a lot of "level 0" users use VBA why not 
Delphi?
8. Don't forget Microsoft .NET Express editions!!!

Ciao e W Delphi 
Comment by Bertoncini Luca [http://sviluppoesviluppi.blogspot.com] on February 12, 18:52

Dreaming a New Delphi Era 

 A great post, great ideas.

I'd also like to see:
1. more convenient integrated translation environment.
 perhaps based on dxgettext?
2. updated Kylix (i'd switch server development from 
Java/C++ to Delphi CLX)
3. i want to be able to buy only one personality. 
make personalized (online) Delphi packages.
Comment by Muzaffar Mahkamov on February 13, 09:02

Dreaming a New Delphi Era 

 http://dwarfland.blogspot.com
Comment by Dwarfland [http://dwarfland.blogspot.com] on February 13, 18:41

Dreaming a New Delphi Era 

Marco,

That was a tremendous post. I agree with virtually
everything you've said here but especially with the
content of the "More Web" section.

"There should be a Delphi web strategy. Following
Microsoft along ASP.NET is not the answer".

Reading those lines from someone so highly respected
in the Delphi community makes me feel that I'm not
banging my head against a brick wall when I say
similar things. In the web space following M$ is
definitely /not/ the answer.

Lurkio
Comment by Lurkio on February 17, 14:16

Then help up build that future! Help us build Lazarus. 

If you wish to be able to write great Delphi
applications for Desktop, Web, PDAs, etc, and have all
those things on the future, you have basically two
options:

1 - Wait until Borland or NewDevCo suddunly decide
your point of view is great and they will implement it!

2 - Implement it yourself.

#1 is clearly easier, but I just don´t have confidence
on it and I also don´t want to wait years until they
decide this to happen. I want to code multiplatform
with object pascal now.

That´s why I am doing #2, implementing missing key
parts on Lazarus.

Lazarus can recompile VCL software with little
changes. Let´s see how it fits your view:

*More Platforms*

The LCL (Lazarus clone of the VCL) already runs
nativelly on: Windows 32 bits and 64 bits, Linux
(various platforms), all BSDs, Mac OS X, solaris.

I am writting the Windows CE Interface. Look here a
initial test:
wiki.lazarus.freepascal.org/index.php/Windows_CE_Interface

Support on the compiler is being added for Palm OS and
various other platforms.

*More Web*

Free Pascal mostly focus on cgi for web right now.

Recently a sockets package was created for Lazarus,
the lnet package. It can already send files over the
internet.

Please, help us implement what is missing.

*More Open*

What is more open then GPL?

Even better, fpc runtime library and the LCL have a
specially modifyed LGPL to allow proprietary programs
to link to them staticaly. More open then most GPL
software.

*More Communication*

Great idea! It would be great if you could send a patch =)
Comment by Felipe Monteiro de Carvalho on February 17, 16:59

Dreaming a New Delphi Era 

 Barbarians indeed!  Break out the viking horns and
get it done!
Comment by Hopeful Skeptic on February 17, 18:02

Dreaming a New Delphi Era 

 Marco,
  I'd be more than happy to talk to you about the web
development features and areas you'd like to see
Delphi expand into. Perhaps we can setup a conference
call or some other mechanism to have a discussion.
Feel free to contact me so we can get something setup.
strefethen at borland dot com.
Comment by Steve Trefethen [http://blogs.borland.com/stevet] on February 17, 20:49

Dreaming a New Delphi Era 

It's not a good dream!
It's nightmare!

More platforms? I personally believe it's bad. Think
about 20/80 rule in this regard. Supporting wide range
of platform is resource despensing. But i think
efforts must be coordinated in one particular area,
resulting in top quality product. We are not talking
about market invasion, but trying to keep beloved
product and raise new company!

Putting everything in one IDE? No! Please stop it!
It just brings new bugs to the table!
NewDewCo shoud polish existing functionality.
Who cares about language these days? Language doesn't
matter. It's value for us only, long time Delphi
users. And as far as i have decent tool i do not need
another one. Why should i pay for it?

More web integration? Well... It's desirible. Internet
Express is good, but it's not AJAX. Plenty of work
must be done in this direction.

My vision is that Delphi is not the key, but equal to
other products. NewCo needs it to stay alive in these
hard time. But as far Delphi has a lot it must be
stripped!!!

1. Why ECO is for Delphi only. Sell it separatly for
C# guys! MS cannot answer for long time to
object-relation gap.

2. BDP - same. Give people desent drivers. NewCo has
experience to do that.

3. Midas - same. Midas it a way better then ADO,
ADO.NET etc. Make it common over all NewCo tools. Why
in the world JBuilder doesn't back it? I know they
have JDataStore and similar concepts? But is this so
difficult provide some interoperability?

3. Interbase - work closer with Firebird, if they alow
it. I would think twice on their place, after that
borland did long time ago...

4. Be friends with RemObjects, Free Pascal etc. Form
aliances to control own technology. Create Object
Pascal standard. Language shold be moved more
agressively, or Ruby will eat you... :-) Long time ago
delphi can compile to java byte code. Give it us back!
What a difference from compiling to IL?

5. Open VCL. It's not a value anymore. Mostly outdated
and already well known.

6. Revitalize Kylix until it's not to late... Give it
decent database and web support. This it what people
looking for on that platform. Definitly not UI,
despite the fact it's also important.

7. Finally - havily breathing: 
Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers...

It should be new motto!!!

Comment by CNemo on February 17, 22:08

Who is davout? 

If I am not mistaking, davout is the guy behind the 
good old Django DDE library for Delphi.

http://www.davout.dsl.pipex.com/icfm/icfmdc.htm
Comment by Lars Fosdal [] on June 8, 12:41

Dreaming a New Delphi Era 

In order for Delphi to survive, we must let the public
know that it exists. Here in the Philippines, since my
college days, I've been programming in Delphi. I was
surprised that my college buddies know nothing about
this language. They only know about visual basic but
never about Delphi. :(

Borland should educate the public by making its
presence  known. Why don't they include Delphi in
colleges/universities for instance? That way, it could
stir the interest of students. They would become
potential customers eventually.

Borland should also provide seminars/training. Here in
the Philippines, Microsoft takes the lead in providing
trainings and seminars. Where is Borland?








 
Comment by Benj on June 15, 06:55

Dreaming a New Delphi Era 

Marco,

You were really on with this post!  The more Web thing
in particular, especially AJAX and Internet Express. 
If they could just make all these pieces work across
Windows and Linux, it would make a huge splash.

Tom
Comment by Tom Wilk on August 10, 09:26

Dreaming a New Delphi Era 

Regarding 'more web' you may also want to check out
FPC and Powtils.. we are planning to ship Powtils with
FPC as a bundle in the near future so that it is
really easy to install. With Powtils you  can deploy
web applications on typical linux/bsd Cpanel accounts
or of course even Windows web hosts.

http://z505.com/powtils/idx.shtml
Comment by L505 [http://z505.com] on November 17, 22:49

Dreaming a New Delphi Era 

 I must say help Lazarus!! 
It may not be that stable like CodeGear Delphi but, I
think it could be next big thing if all Delphi
developers contribute. 
Comment by Dhawal on May 3, 00:58


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