Delphi’s strength has always been the VCL, and it’s extensibility. You always got a lot out of the box, but the knowledge that whatever you wanted to do, there was a component somewhere out there that would do it for you was an incentive to use Delphi. I could, and did spend days on the Delphi Super Page, just downloading components and trying them out.
Borland (and now Codegear) have always been careful not to step on the feet of their third party vendors, so always left some gaps for them to fill in. And rightly so. That’s why Delphi was such a success.
Unfortunately, the third party vendor scene has not been as vibrant as it once once. Sadly, the number of vendors producing quality components has decreased greatly since the glory days.
The freeware and shareware scene was also beyond compare. Now almost all freeware and open source components have not been updated since Delphi 7. The Delphi super page sometimes feels like a museum. With the advent of Delphi 2009, this problem can only get worse, because while before, a simple recompile would suffice, now you have to do some extra work.
I think Borland were 100% right in leaving the market open to third party vendors, and stepping back and letting others fill the void. It made Delphi popular, and it made the vendors happy. But times have changed, and perhaps now it’s time for Codegear to step in, and help it along a bit.
My suggestion is for Codegear to setup an ITunes for Delphi components (you know what I mean!). Somewhere, vendors, developers and Codegear themselves can sell (or give away) quality components. Codegear could approve anything deemed worthy to be on there. There is a lot of abandon-ware out there that could be resurrected and brought up to date for Delphi 2009, endorsed, and offered up by Codegear. There’d be one central place where Delphi developers go for all their component needs.
The remaining third party vendors would be happy, because they’d have another outlet for their products. New vendors would be happy, because they have a customer base ready, and waiting, and hungry for new components.
If Apple can do it with music, why can’t we do it with components?