Delphi -- The End of an Era
Borland is looking to sell off its developer toolset, which originally made the company, to focus on enterprise application lifecycle management. The toolset being sold includes the excellent compiler, Delphi. (About a third of the shareware developers at the Shareware Industry Conference develop with Delphi.)
While it may appear that Borland is cutting out its own heart, the decision is probably a smart one for Borland management. Under the relentless competition from Microsoft Visual Studio, the developer toolset is reportedly worth under $100 million with few opportunities for growth.
I have a confession: After leaving Microsoft, I purchased Borland’s C++ Builder. I wasn’t comfortable with Pascal, and C++ was simply a more powerful language (at the expense of productivity.) I made my decision despite having worked with Visual Studio for the past six years and despite having previously programmed with MFC. I didn’t care for the unnecessary complexity, inelegance and low-level tinkering. (MFC’s class wizards, for example, were like lipstick on a pig—not to mention COM.) Software development should be getting easier with time, not more difficult, I thought.
I gained a lot of respect for Borland from prior experience with their C++ compilers. I used Borland’s development products in the early 1990’s, when Borland came out with the first Windows, standards-based C++ compiler. Microsoft C/C++ then was command-based and seriously lacking. Borland continued to maintain a technological lead throughout the nineties—a vital necessity competing with the likes of Microsoft.
After raiding Borland of key developers like Anders, Microsoft managed a stunning turnaround and commenced a downward slope for Borland’s tools division. Sometime after purchasing Borland C++ Builder, I reversed my decision after Visual Studio.NET Beta 1 came out with the cool new language, C#.