On November 14 2006, Delphi developers were somewhat shocked to hear that the sale by Borland of the “RAD Tools Division” had collapsed and a new company (a fully owned subsidiary) was going formed instead. The first announcement came from Allen Bauer, who stated “And you thought it’d never happen! :-)  However, as of today, I’m officially a CodeGear employee.” David I commented in more depth:

"At CodeGear, our new name, we are focused on developers and the tools you need to be successful. We are not limited to just a few programming languages (Delphi, Delphi .NET, Java, C++, C#). As CodeGear, we will build products for a broad spectrum of languages, tools, libraries, and components that developers need to get the job done right."

My was my first blog post on CodeGear shows my surprise. After thinking about it a few hours, most Delphi developers (including myself) realized this was actually very good news. After two days I wrote:

“If the birth of CodeGear was much less linear than it could have been, now it is here and this fact is very important for all Delphi developers, but also for developers who've picked other tools and technologies... Over the last few months I've seen a number of positive changes, including hiring (or re-hiring) great developers, a new Delphi product manager who is able to work with the community, the Turbo Delphi Explorer and similar free tools, many updates and fixes for the last version of Delphi (BDS 2006), new documentation and communication services including video lessons, the willingness to update the Delphi roadmap... The fact that DevCo did all of this in 6 months while still under the Borland umbrella is certainly a very good sign for the future of a brand new company that... started over 20 years ago with a product called TurboPascal.”

The news was indeed good news. After only one year, we can clearly state that CodeGear is like Borland used to be in the early days and very different from the ALM-oriented company we were used to over the last few years, which didn't considered Delphi a burden only because it was “cash cow”.

So what happened over this year to make so many Delphi developers rejoice? On one side the company changed a bit. They seemed to hear to their end user, giving priority to Delphi Win32 over the .NET version. They released two relevant versions of Delphi in 2007. They cranked out a new database engine architecture. They started to think of web development in terms of scripting languages releasing tools for PHP and Ruby. They found a better way to integrate JBuilder with Eclipse, with the JGears toolset. They delivered a managed database for .NET (something you can use also from the Win32 world). They invested resources in rebuilding a decent help file almost from scratch (and with the update just released we can now say they are really doing a good job). And, in the process, they managed to make a couple of million dollars each quarter.

But that's not the overall picture. For the first time in many years, Microsoft plans for the Windows world seem to be far from steady. Vista was far from a great success, and most companies still rely on Windows XP. Despite great support of Vista in Delphi 2007, this is a sign Microsoft is having trouble imposing its own agenda. Microsoft development directions are also shaky. While they are changing the web strategy once more (focusing on Silverlight), development of client/server applications with .NET is not very popular, leaving us Win32 die-hart (we are because of the VCL, not because we particularly like the Win32 API!) with a lot of room to grow. With Vista new API coming mostly as Win32 native ones (not even COM based), even Microsoft has recently decided to bet once more on native development investing heavily on native C++ and MFC. How would you call an effort to double the classes of the MFC library, after so many years?

So with Win32 development still far from a corner but in a relative spotlight, much better development tools like Delphi 2007, in the tradition of the early versions of Delphi, and a roadmap promising at least three major and long awaited features within the next year (generics for Win32, complete Unicode support in the VCL, native Win64 support) thinks are looking very rosy for Delphi developers.

If CodeGear still seems to lack an overall vision on Web development, the perception of the company in the developers world has really changed dramatically over the last year. Customers are upgrading to new versions of Delphi and moving Delphi 5 and 6 projects over. Investment in training has increased significantly. Confidence of the future is brighter. Books sales (and component sales by third parties, I've been told) are growing.
The last missing tidbit would be an injection of venture capital allowing the company to become fully independent, privately owned, and not subject to SOX and all of the messy accounting limitations... so that they can deliver us what we ask for and they feel better, with no external restrictions. A little cash could also be used to invest in small companies to speed up CodeGear's entrance in new areas of the development world.

Good job, CodeGear, but don't stop it. Now that we got our fingers wet, we want more... Long live Delphi and CodeGear.

PS. With a big thank you to all of the CodeGear managers and employees, and Delphi community members, who helped make this possible.