Take a look to the sky just before you die
It is the last time you will…
…being from enough years now a Delphi community member. Also, I monitor and/or I’m involved in other communities. But from some time now I look at Delphi community from outside. Also my other ‘specialty’ allow me to cast a very different eye on the matters. Different from a programmer perspective. But I’ll try to bind all the puzzles…
Well, in the beginning was camaraderie. A lot. A bunch of very smart programmers, so smart that they realized that in order to gain they must ‘kill’ their own opinions, their own ways to see the future and build a tool dedicated to users. They didn’t it for money, even if money came after from the users who loved them. This was Turbo Pascal and the early version of Delphi.
The users brought success, brought glory. But also brought money. And they chose the money. And the money brought death. This was Inprise, this was Kylix, this was Delphi.NET, this was ALM. Enormous prices for something that nobody requested in that way.
Nowadays Delphi community is formed in its vast majority by experienced, skilled, programmers which do malware (btw it seems that Delphi is ‘the favorite cracker’s tool’), work in aerospace, avionics, health-care, life critical applications, government, enterprise grade economics etc. On the other hand, there are a big percentage of programmers who use Delphi for almost everything: from keeping an inventory of a grocery till building 24x7x365 distributed n-Tier systems.
But with almost each new Delphi version the number of people which use the new version is shrinking. There is a renaissance started with Delphi 2007, continued with Delphi 2009 and it has a peak with Delphi 2010, but still… isn’t what it used to be. And this is natural. Because we need new users.
Nowadays in schools the students doesn’t learn Pascal anymore. They learn Java and C#. So, what will be their language programming of choice when they’ll finish the studies?
Give very cheap (almost free) licenses in schools and universities. Learn them to build long therm, commercial projects. These licenses will expire when the holder will terminate the studies. (IOW licenses are assigned to the _university/school_ not to the person, even if any(?) student can have an installation at home). Anyway, a determined student can have a cracked version.
A kid at home can have a cracked version and nobody can track him, but if he enters in commercial (real) business he must probably will buy a license. So, the target should be as follows:
“Any youngster which will leave the school should know Delphi. If some of them will depend on Delphi due of their projects which are already in progress, so far so good.”
You must have a user base as large as it gets and then in this user base you must try to maximize the percentage of the ‘legals’. Let us not forget that this user base will produce large amounts of code and thinking culture which is crucial today for our community (truly RAD, innovation, safety feeling WRT tomorrow, jobs on the market, vocal supporters etc. – almost everything which is missing(ed) in our community). Fight for users not for money. Fight for glory not for death. …all we are riding the storm.
The roadmap says: Project X in 2010, Chromium after and after this Commodore. Most probably with one year between them. And it doesn’t matter which will be the last because Chromium most probably will be in the middle as a stabilizing edition. Having either 64bit, either cross-platform in 2012 is too late, in my humble opinion.
Well, we know that we’ll die. It’s a question of time, isn’t? At least let us die with honor.
I do think that here is needed a lot of lucidity, focus and cooperation in order to get the cross-platform and 64bit (almost) together. I do think that’s doable. Let’s take in account that Delphi is the company’s main product. If Delphi fails, everything fail.
Go and see the CodeRage 4’s schedule. Take out the Delphi sessions. What remains? And I’m pretty confident that if Delphi sessions weren’t there, then neither the other ones weren’t at least not in that proportion.
You can look at Google trends bellow: (The actual link is here.)
Well, one can argue that in ‘Delphi’ results are included also the searches about the car parts company which went bankrupt. But I highly doubt it since the Top 10 Countries provided by Google has nothing to do with the defunct company…
Anyway, if Delphi isn’t anymore then nothing is anymore. That’s why perhaps they must concentrate their efforts and borrow men from other teams, even outsourcing (not to mention product names there but you know that there are products which, oh well… can wait a little 😉 ), import ideas from other products (3rd Rail’s UI approach for MVC pattern) and enhance your base product. Because otherwise…
And don’t look for money. Look for users. Gates was right. You must do everything to flood the market, to became a standard. (Un)fortunatelly John Sculley didn’t listen him. Perhaps then the Windows would be no more…
As the independent investment in a “standard” architecture grows, so does the momentum for that architecture. The industry has reached the point where it is now impossible for Apple to create a standard out of their innovative technology without support from, and the resulting credibility of other personal computer manufacturers. Thus, Apple must open the Macintosh architecture to have the independent support required to gain momentum and establish a standard.
Bill Gates, Jeff Raikes
June 25, 1985
That’s why I think, the entire management team must focus on this product and allocate resources on this as early as possible because as Philippe Kahn said “Throwing resources to a late project makes it later” – also see the Fred Brook’s “Mythical Man-Month” while on the other front they must work with the community in order to keep their focus. They do it very very very good, compared with the past years. But they must do very good with the nowadays IT reality – they must pay the price for the mistakes of the past management. Because nowadays Delphi doesn’t have a distinctive appealing feature for the current IT culture in order to attract new users. And I think that native cross-platform is that feature. But we must get it right.
So, for whom the bell tolls?
For our death? For a new baby born? For the end of the war?
We don’t know. Yet. Anyway an end is a beginning, isn’t?