Friday, 26 December 2008

Bizspark – Where’s Embarcadero’s equivalent?

Let’s imagine a hypothetical situation. It’s hypothetical because I’m just speculating, but it’s one that could happen, and I’m sure happens all the time.

Right, I’m a Delphi developer. I’ve been working 9-5 for the boss for a long time. I have had a great idea for a product, and would like to try and develop that product independently, and market it. Being a Delphi developer, I naturally would like to develop that product in Delphi. Makes sense. Ok, so what do I need? I have a pc (or 3), so I now need the IDE. Ok so what are my options? I’d like the latest, and greatest. No point in making my mouth water with features such as Generics and Anonymous methods and expect me to settle for less. So  I go to the Codegear (UK) website, and check out the prices. WOW. £979 excluding VAT (currently 15%). I may be able to get a better deal somewhere, but it’s not going to be much cheaper. My product idea is great and all that, but you never know. I need to keep my costs down, and £979 (don’t forget the VAT) is a lot of money for something which may or may not succeed. There’s no such thing as a free lunch you say!

Well maybe there is. Let’s look at the competition. In particular Microsoft. Microsoft have what they call Bizspark. Basically, they’ll give you a whole load of their products, for free if you are a startup. If your revenues are less than a million dollars a year, and you’ve been in business for less than three years that is. Well, if my product starts making a million a year, then I wouldn’t mind paying £979, but right now that’s a little too much. So if I choose to use C# instead of Delphi, I can save myself £979. Actually it’s a lot more than that, because not only do I get Visual Studio, but I also get a whole lot more than that. In fact it will cost me a simple $100 after 3 years. I’ll have tried my product idea with little or no risk, and Microsoft have gained a developer for a cost of $100 to them. By giving me thousands of dollars worth of software for a measly $100, they haven’t lost any sales, because I would never have bought them in the first place.

I mean forget Bizspark. If I really want I can go and download Visual C# Express, and use SQL Server Express as my backend. That’s more than enough for my product. What has Codegear to offer? Turbo Delphi? That’s Delphi 2005 I think. Whatever it is, it’s not Delphi 2009. What about Prism? Do they have a Delphi Prism Express? Nope, not that I can see. Not much of a decision really, is it? I’m a Delphi developer, but C# holds absolutely no fears for me. Codegear have just lost another developer. More importantly, maybe my product idea is a success. Maybe in a year’s time I need to employ a few developers. Codegear have just lost a few more developers. Ok, my product is now really successful. I can afford the £979 for each of my 10 developers. Am I going to switch? Somehow I doubt it?

So Delphi, which used to be the obvious choice for your one man startups, is no longer a viable option. It has always been expensive, but when compared to the opposition, it was still value for money. It no longer is. How much of Codegear’s sales are Delphi 2005/2006/2007 shops upgrading to the latest, and how much are new developers? Or old developers branching out? My guess is that it’s very close to 100% Delphi shops looking to go to the latest offering.

If by some chance, Codegear do have some Bizspark equivalent, well done, but if that’s the case, then it’s very well hidden. I appreciate that Microsoft can afford to give away their products. Can Codegear afford not too?


Yves said...

You can also go with Eclipse or Netbeans, with the additional plus of developing true cross-platform software. Just an idea :-)

Babnik said...

The whole post was not about the technology, but rather that Codegear make it difficult for anyone except medium to large businesses from using Delphi. The crux is I'm a Delphi developer, and I would like to use Delphi, but I have obstacles that other companies (namely Microsoft) seem to have cleared for me.

Erick Sasse said...

That depends, if you don't have experience with .NET, the cost to learn could be higher than Delphi license.

Anonymous said...

M$ could give away their developers products because their core business is another (let say Office and operating systems).
20 years ago TP and then Delphi were the best choice because they were most productive tools. Nowadays, the best product isn't only the best language but the best integrated tool within a complex lifecycle of development.
And sometime M$ tools isn't the best for your specific job.
In the win32 arena, delphi 7->2009 is the best when integrated with some external tools (modelmaker, raize, dunit, automatedQA, svn, caliber RM).
In the .Net arena, Prism could be a new option but it means forget the IDE for the other so it could be more hard.
Oldest .net enabled IDE (2005->) works fine but I have had some problems in .net applications that I cannot release in time as the unpredictability of solving. This was a Borland support problem and maybe, now, Codegear and Embarcadero works better but it's a fact.

Price is a problem only if you don't calculate the learning gap.

So if you think that M$ VS is the better choice for technical reasons or for the best support(msdn,forums, support) let go there.
In my experience, I'm a full mcsd M$ certified professional, I preferred to jump back to delphi 2005 as the best choice in win32. I stayed on delphi with 2006, 2007 and now I'm migrating to 2009.
Prism 'll have a new .net chance.
My 2c.

Temistocles Roa said...

I see you point but i think we have to understand the main difference between Codegear (Embarcadero) and Microsoft. Codegear is a Developer Tools Company and Microsoft is a Platform Company. Microsoft business in on selling their Platform Software ( Windows, Windows Server, Sharepoint, etc. ), and in order to do that they need software that run on those platforms, and they will do whatever it takes for that, even if it means giving away the developement tools.

Babnik said...

It's true that something like the Bizspark initiative is basically giving away stuff, and if Codegear were to do something similar, then they're giving away the crown jewels, but sometimes you have to speculate to accumulate. You are giving something away today, so that you'll be able to sell something tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

I think/hope Embercadero eventually will/should make Delphi Open Source. That's how it can survive and become mainstream again rather than marjinal.

Babnik said...

I'm not talking about Delphi going open source. I'm talking about making it affordable to the masses. That popularity will then trickle out to the enterprise. (as it did when Delphi first came out)

Anonymous said...

Yeah, i think you are right, but i'm waiting for a Delphi Standard Version where i can do all things with Delphi except big Database things. I'm able to pay 100-200€ for a small Delphi Version, but i don't think its going to happen.

Would be great to get a C++builder/Delphi 2009 Standard with one personality (Delphi or C++builder) and limited or no database support.

I got Delphi 1,2,3,5,6 and 7. Also i got the free Delphi 2005 Standard from Magazines.

Thanks, murphy

Anonymous said...

I agree with what you all said but we have another way...
I have was already faced with the fact off learn .NET and C# or use DELPHI in a not so legal way … I think you all guessed what I choose, sorry codegear. Now I am all legal D2007 legal, upgrade to D2009 is still too expensive for me.
But I fully agree. Codegear should have such an option, as MS as, and more … all they products should be less expensive. For all: companies, freelance, etc. Only costing less can they compete with MS and like.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the issue at hand is the cost of the tool. IMO Delphi is way overpriced. Keeping the price so high will keep small shops away from it. That simple!
I do not consider M$ an option if cost is an issue. Many other tools are free or nearly free. And most don't carry the burdens of a moving target (C#/.net).
Speaking of C#/.net - I like languages that are stable and tools (IDE, compilers, etc.) that are GREAT! Delphi IDE use to be insanely great. But it has been steadily loosing that greatness.
Innovation doesn't mean to follow others. It mainly means to create our own way.
But I digress...

Anonymous said...

Guys, you probably are resistant enough to have noticed that delphi *is* dead.

Have you realized that borland sold delphi to an unknown company for $20M?

Yes, 20 million USD. Some people buy a house for this amount of cash...

Looks like the father of delphi did everything to get rid of his child...

Only last week I met a delphi developer who tried to explain me the advantages of DBF files over XML...

Guys, stop being delphi users, become software developers. The world will then be yours.

Anonymous said...

I agree - there should be a version for small businesses and/or one for home developers. I am a home developer. I program in Delphi becuase I like it, and all my programs are released as FreeWare - or at the most expensive as PostCard-Ware.

I have bought Delphi 2005, 2006 and 2007 out of my own pocket, but I'm probably sticking with 2007 for as long as I stuck with Delphi 6 (up until 2005 came out) because I now have a stable development environment that can do what I want and need.

A non-commercial license would allow me to follow the upgrade path much more regularly. As it is, I can't afford it, since I don't get any revenue in from my programs (it's against my philosophy to charge for my programs).

Anonymous said...

I'm in the same situation as you. I'm working for the man, using C++ on Linux and C# on Windows.

I'm trying to start a small ISV on the side, together with a friend of mine who is also a C++, C# and Delphi developer.

We don't own any Delphi licenses yet, so upgrading is not an option.
As a user, I prefer native apps wherever available. However, Delphi was just too steep a commitment to make. Had it been priced around 500 euros, we would have gone for it. But a new license is around 1000 euros, which is way too much! You can get an IMac for that price, with all development tools included.

I think that Delphi is in a downward spiral right now. High prices mean less users, which in turn results in even higher prices to keep it profitable.

I hope Embarcadero can break that cycle somehow. But I'm skeptical.

Anonymous said...

So why are you (small companies, freelancers) carrying about the license?
Just download Delphi from the official site (,
install it, download Delphi Distiller from and use its Ctrl+Alt+L key combination and voila.
Or use open source, Lazarus+FreePascal for example (if you prefer Pascal) or CodeBlocks+GCC (if you prefer C/C++) or Python or Java...

Anonymous said...

Microsoft would give away all their developer tools if they could, as all they care about is maximising the number of windows developers writing good applications. Charging for their tools allows a little "competition" which lets additional development envrionments to survive. (and also avoiding another anti-trust law suit).

Embarcadero is going to have to do some pretty impressive stuff for Delphi to survive long term. I really like Delphi and I'm optimistic due to the steady improvements that have been happening.

Anonymous said...

@anonymous above:

Because it is NOT legal!

Some of us are the ones who want to buy a product because its great and you want to support it. I hope you know what i mean.

Cheers, murphy

SKamradt said...

The other issue with this is the fact that Microsoft is an OS company, by creating a low cost of entry they only increase the amount of $ they gain from the original sale of the PC. With Apple products its basically the same thing... the development tools are pretty much free to start using, they get you back in the deployments later. More developers = more reasons someone would switch from one platform to another.

Now, lets take Embarcadero. They don't have an OS to support their development efforts...they only have the tools they sell. They only make money when someone purchases their product. So, it becomes a balancing act... what features to release for free or at a low cost in the turbos, and what features people are willing to pay a premium for.

Don't get me wrong. I am a Delphi developer because I purchased Turbo Pascal 3.1 back in the day for $49.95. It was cost that drove me to that decision, and the sheer love of the language that keeps me in it. If I were to start programming today, my choices would be to pick up C#/C++ just because of the low cost.

So, how does Embarcadero convert the masses back to their tools? By creating the BEST product that beats the snot out of the others. Create a tool that a small team can use to create software products that are only possible by big team programmers. Stay AHEAD of the curve where possible, and buy the talent to get there if necessary. Prism is a very good example of this power as it leverages the power of Delphi into all of the Microsoft .net frameworks while ALSO providing additional benefits which are not provided elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

There needs to be a £€$400 version of Delphi, it seemed the Turbo Professional version was going to fill that mark but so much for that now. The irony is that my employer will happily pay Embarcadero 2K per licence, but none of us want to work in Delphi anymore because of the dire job situation. Somethings got to give.

Anonymous said...

@ MURPHY above ...

"Free" Delphi is ESSENTIAL for the many of us that are freelancers and use mainly DELPHI as programming language. I can't aford to pay for DELPHI but as i pay for most of the 3thrd party's components i use with sources. Illegal "free" Delphi keeps DELPHI and third parties alive. Never forget that.

LDS said...

The extensibility of Delphi became a problem for Codegear - a "personal" version can become a "professional"/"enterprise" one with the addition of a few components, sometimes even free ones.
Thereby, to maximize their revenues, they killed the low end versions, and together a good slice of their market.
Especially because the price tag of higher end SKUs was never justified fully - a bunch of dbExpress drivers (often low quality), some third party web libraries/tools, that could disappear in a later release without notice (ModelMaker, StarTeam, ECO, now some Embarcadero stuff), so users have learnt not to rely on them, or one will just spend more on upgrades later.
The Pro version sometimes lacks features a professsional developer needs, putting prospective buyers in a dilemma - if to spend all that money for a feature or two they need.
And especially Codegear has been very slow to add new, needed features (and it looks they are delaying 64bit support).
Meanwhile MS pursued a very aggressive campaign in the development tools fields, somewhat alike that Borland used in the old days.
What is more worrying, is that CodeGear stills seems unable to understand it and develop a new strategy to fight back.
They stick to a marketing maybe good if targeted at hobbyists, but they sell tools at 2000€, and although D2009 is the first release in six years to offer real improvements, there is still a lot to do to justify such prices in the actual market.

Bruce McGee said...

Have you talked to CodeGear about their partner plans?

Anonymous said...

I don't get it. Become a plumber there must be a tool vendor who gives his tools away for free.

Want a business, you have to invest. Jeez guys stop wining

Yogi Yang said...

You are right here. Delphi is unaffordable by all means.

For those who are against RunTime overheads should also explore other programming tools like PureBasic (with PBDev/PureForms) and PowerBasic (with FireFly Visual Designer - an IDE).

Both these are native code compilers. They produce very small fast executing EXE. They do not have any external dependency on any type of Runimes like VB and .NET. They use very less resources and are a treat to program in.

In case of PureBasic it is available on cross platforms and that is a major selling point.

Both of these are making money. In fact minting money as they are prices sub $200. So the claim that Delphi has to be charged higher as Embarcadero has to make money to sustain itself, is just bull shit.

Anonymous said...

You mention a price of 974 pounds. I checked the prices on Bob Swart's site and found you can get versions for lower prices. After all, you don't need the full RAD studio, if you're only going to use either Win32 or .Net.

The Professional edition should suit most users fine (as has been mentioned in other comments the added value of the other versions is questionable).

Also, you can easily apply for the upgrade price. If you don't own an older version, you could buy one first, for little money.

The Delphi Win 32 Professional upgrade price is €324.

Still, I agree, it would be much better if there was a non-commercial license around the €50 - €75 price point. A start-up business should be able to buy that version and delay paying the full commercial license until it is actually making money.

And CodeGear should not make this difficult. After all, I can download a free pirated version easily.