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Nick's Delphi Blog - My Plan for DevCo
I admit it. I'm a Delphi Bigot.
 Wednesday, 08 March 2006

Joe Mele tossed his name out there as the potential CEO of DevCo.  Well, I'll throw my hat in the ring as well.  And not only that, I'm here and now putting out my official plan of action for my reign as the leader of the premier development tools company.

My plan is divided into three different courses of action:  What I'd do immediately, what I'd look into doing, and wild-ass ideas.

Here's what I'd do for sure right away, no questions asked:

  • Put a full page ad in every issue of SDTimes -- I've asked about this before.  I can't understand why Borland hasn't been doing this all along.
  • Put the help in a Moderated Wiki -- As I understand it, this is in the works,  but it really needs to happen.  We all together can build a better help file than the Delphi Docs Team.  No offense to them, but it's a big job.
  • Release a "Delphi for .Net SDK". -- This totally needs to happen.  The lack of a public compiler is killing the third-party Delphi market.  Just killing it. 
  • Double, no Triple, no QUADRUPLE the budget for what is now BDN -- BDN will be even more important to DevCo.  It's totally underfunded now. As the CEO of DevCo, I'd fix this right away.
  • Double, no Triple, no QUADRUPLE the size of the documentation team. -- Somebody is going to have to manage all this inputs that we community members put into the Help Wiki.
  • Provide a competitive upgrade price from any other development tool -- How are you going to woo VB6 developers without a competitive upgrade?
  • Give every person in the company, all the way down to the cleaning crew, a copy of The ClueTrain Manifesto  -- Oh man, this really, really, really needs to happen.  Could there be a company that was less ClueTrain-ish that Borland?
  • Plan, and announce as soon as possible, the new, improved, exciting DevCon -- Get the faithful together as soon as possible. 

These are the things I'd look in to doing.  I wouldn't necessary do them, but I'd throw them out there and look seriously at them:

  • Find a way to aggressively pursue VB6 developers -- The field is still rich for the sowing. How can we get to these guys?
  • Look into the right way to release a Standard/Personal/Free version of Delphi - This is hard.  Sell a low end version, and people buy it instead of the more expensive versions.  Don't have a low end, and you don't get students, hobbyists, and other new folks on board.  There has to be a way to solve this.
  • Look into instituting a subscription selling model -- Smooth out the development cycle and the revenues.
  • Sell licenses (not boxes, just licenses) of any version of Delphi -- There are folks out there using older versions of Delphi, and DevCo should make it easy to expand the size of their development team.  Or, put another way, if people want to buy something you have, sell it to them.
  • Revitalize and release NDatastore -- This product would simply rock, and the entire .Net development world would buy it, not just Delphi users.
  • Open up "DevCo Press", using on-demand printing technology -- On-Demand printing will keep costs way down, make keeping multiple titles available, and allow for more esoteric topics to be available. 
  • Institute an Affiliate program, allowing people to sell Delphi from their websites -- the more folks selling and promoting Delphi the better. 
  • Look at harnessing the power of the community
    • Club DevCo -- figure out ways for folks to earn points by being good community members.  Points can earn free stuff.
    • Free marketing materials to anyone who asks -- put together a package the ordinary folks can use to promote Delphi.  Give it to anyone who asks.
    • Free bumper stickers and other swag -- get the word out ASAP.
  • Look into buying/merging with/closely partnering with FinalBuilder, AutomatedQA, Altova, Modelmaker and Castalia -- These folks make products that Delphi developers want.
  • Add syntax highlighters for Ruby and Python for starters -- These to languages are just getting too popular to ignore
  • Release a VS.NET version of ECO - ECO is awesome technology.  Consider letting the VS.NET guys in on it.  They'll pay.  ;-)

Here are a few ideas that are really out there, but worth at least thinking about:

  • Integrating a VB6 personality into BDS -- why not?  That would be one way to get them involved.
  • Create a personality for Javascript/AJAX development -- This is getting hotter and hotter everyday.  Someone will do this first.  It ought to be DevCo.
  • Add a personality for Python and/or Ruby -- Do this after the AJAX personality.

Just a few thoughts for the new CEO, whoever it ends up being.  ;-)

03/08/2006 23:01:36 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Comments [16]   Business | Delphi 2006  |  Trackback
03/09/2006 01:12:05 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
I'm a freelance developer. Coding since TurboPascal.. allways Delphi... now.. I'm afraid
of all this VB and .Net guys... but I can see the future: Bye Delphi win32.. hellow Delphi .net.
Coders don't need it, my customers don't need it, but marketing is marketing and the system needs
sell again all this compos, tools and third party things. I could bet that I'll keep and use my BDS 2006 during a few years!
03/09/2006 02:00:22 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
So your immediate action plan fails to fix the real problems, your future plans fail to fix the real problems and your wild ass plan fails to fix the real problems.

You'd be perfect for Borland management.
03/09/2006 03:34:16 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Very good!

Idea is money. The more the better.
03/09/2006 06:33:01 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
I don't know how serious you are, but I love a bunch of the ideas.
Bruce McGee
03/09/2006 08:37:10 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
These all make too much sense.
03/09/2006 08:43:17 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
those of course are good ideas for Delphi, but I insist, it does sound as if you guys somehow are going to create a new organization, it has previously been said, if you don't know who's going to buy it why would you say we are going to do this or that, this is the plan, etc, since you wouldn't have much choice, whoever buys Delphi would decide what to do, but if you guys are creating a new organization then all your last posts make sense
03/09/2006 09:32:33 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
To the Cluetrain Manifesto I would add:

"Futurize Your Enterprise"

Despite the silly title, it takes the Cluetrain themes and builds on them

You may also include NetWorth and NetGain...
John Wester
03/09/2006 10:11:05 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
OnlyWantWin32 -- Win32 is still alive and kicking very strongly in Delphi. D2006 has a bunch of compiler and VCL enhancements for Win32. Your fears and concerns are unfounded.

Xepol -- Congratulations -- you win "Most Content Free Comment" of the week! The competition is tough, but you did it. You won't win again if you actually reply and provide some valuable critiques and describe what you think is the real problem, so consider any further comments carefully!

Eber -- I'm not sure what your beef is. I'm just making suggestions about what I see as needed and what would lead to success for DevCo. The new owners can take or ignore my advice as they please.

03/09/2006 10:47:26 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
I would say to add Ruby/Python/PHP personality. Or make it feasible for the community to add these things. Open the BDS up. If I want to write a C++/wxWindows personality, figuring out how to add this to BDS should be the least of my worries.

Market ECO as a reason to have the BDS. Is there any other OPF as compelling?

Just add a Javascript personality. There are embeddable javascript engines available.

Personal version is more difficult. Maybe make each personality a separate download/install/executable, without the ability to plug in new personalities.
03/09/2006 11:12:23 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
oh, and add regular expression parsing to the strings library.
03/09/2006 11:16:53 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Good ideas, but most of them cost money. I don't think that much money is going to be forthcoming. I think what will happen instead is that some existing things will have to be postponed or abandoned, as new investors try to desparately "cut costs" in order to ensure some kind of accounting profit for themselves.
I think the future is a leaner Delphi, not a fatter one.
03/09/2006 11:42:18 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Jake --

Once again, I predict you are wrong -- I think fatter days are ahead.

03/09/2006 15:18:11 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
If you're going to do Python/Ruby personalities ensure you do Javascript and Perl as well.
03/09/2006 19:34:22 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
I'm ready for a larger list :) It would be great if Xepol gives us an ordered (or unordered) list of "the real problems". That would be worth its weight in gold.

Win32 - absolutely - for many years to come.

David I
03/10/2006 17:06:16 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Good list of suggestions. The Wiki idea is suberb. There should also ship with a robust wrapper around SQLite. Delphi is missing a good free database. MS Access can be a dependancy nightmare and dbase, et al, are antiquated. Firebird, MySQL and MSDE are much too large for simple desktop apps, although the embedded firefox is quite nice.

Regarding how to split the various versions (Standard/Personal/Free/Pro/Architect/et al), I suggest that every copy contain all the same components. The free version can run any app built with the architect. The architect would probably still cost a fortune but contain additional products such as version control, perhaps a modeler, etc. In other words, the extra cost is for extra IDE features or applications, not for additional code libraries in the VCL.

This will help lure hobbiest and others while not forcing others away with a crippled language.

I have one radical idea as well:

Build a personality and class library for the D programming language.

While this may stretch valuable programming resources, D would attract a new group of developers. D also "fixes" many of the Delphi language shortcomings that C# fixed. It would be nice to see a robust IDE and library behind it. The downside is the spec has not been finalized.

03/15/2006 07:28:19 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)

Our shop is transitioning away from Delphi to VS.NET, and we have become enamored with ECO. We have a mix of stand-alone applications and integrated features written in Bold, and see no existing solution available for VS.NET that allows us to do MDA as easily as ECO does. Sure, it can be duct-taped together with a number of open source and commercial products, but nothing (and I've done the research) comes close to Together + ECO.

All that's to say I agree that ECO should be made into a standalone product available for VS.NET. We can't use BDS (don't get me started, please) and want to continue with MDA. And selling to the VS.NET crowd is a win-win, as DevCo will have a nice revenue stream from ECO sales(ASSUMING ECO IS MARKETED WELL!!!) and the satisfaction of knowing that BDS development is being furthered indirectly (stay with me) by Microsoft.

Save the (ID)Environment. Be ECO-friendly.
Shawn Pfaff
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