7/05/2006

Delphi is Dying. Who Wants to Buy It?

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Borland announced a few months ago that it was no longer going to be the producer of new versions of Delphi, C++ Builder, and their other IDE products. The plan is for them to sell the product line, as Borland moves it's company focus towards Application Lifecycle Management software. The full story can be read here.

Now I am a steadfast Delphi fan and supporter. I love the seamless cross development available between Kylix and Delphi, and I like the new integration of C# into the Delphi package. I also must expound upon just how easy it is to quickly develop and deploy an application in it. It combines the ease of Visual Basic with the power of C++. However, what I can't stand about the product was Borland's almost complete lack of support. Not that they did't provide "support" for the product, but that they seemed to have abandoned marketing and building a strong community for the product. Granted, combining Delphi with C# was a good move in that direction, but I never saw a single Borland advertisement anywhere. Never.

Whoever ends up with the rights to the Borland suite of IDE's must learn from Borland's mistakes. They need to strongly advertise their products, such as Delphi, or the community is going to gradually erode until even the most hardcore Delphi fans are forced to find a better supported product, with a strong and growing community.

Prehaps selling their IDE suite is a good move. Obviously Borland has fumbled the last several years with it, while competitors such as Microsoft have borrowed some of the best innovations from Borland for their Visual Studio suite, and gained good market share (just look at Visual C++ 6 compared to Visual C++ 2003.)

In the interim, while Borland searches for the right company to acquire it's IDE suite, the Borland Developer Tools Group have released a roadmap for the continued development of their IDE tools. Notable is .NET 2.0 support in the Delphi Highlander release, slated for early 2007, followed by Delphi for Vista, which will aim to support .NET 3.0 (formerlly WinFX), and a 64-bit Delphi/C++ compiler in 2008.

While it's great that Borland is continuing to develop these products (which is necessary if they wish to sell the division for a decent amount) I still feel that effect advertising is the only way Delphi and the rest of the Boralnd IDE product line has any chance of success. Without it, the community will dwindle, the support will atrophy, and the products will be discontinued.

UPDATE: If you don't already have a version of Delphi you can download Borland Delphi 7 Personal Edition here(65mb) from Borland's Polish site. While that's downloading you'll need to head over to this page or this page and get your free product key from Borland. I like Delphi 7 because it loads quickly, and has a very straight forward user interface, unlike later versions of Delphi.

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