Monday, 21 September 2009

Delphi Community Edition

I’ve just read Jolyon Smith’s post on a Delphi Community Edition. All good stuff, and something I have been clamouring for, for quite a while. The thing is, I don’t think it will happen. Embarcadero are in the business of making money, not giving things away. Incidentally, I think they’d probably make more money in the long run if they did give some things away, but playing the long game can be very difficult.

So here’s a suggestion which is a mix of both the long and short game. I’ve suggested something like this before. Here it is slightly refined.

  1. Create a Delphi Community Edition/Turbo Editon, call it what you want, but the most important thing is it’s price. Yep, it’s free, or perhaps even better make it $99. (For some reason people think free stuff equates to poor quality)
  2. Do all the things Jolyon suggested. Digital Watermarking for example.
  3. Create an app-store on the Embarcadero website, that can accept apps/components from the Community Edition. Embarcadero get a percentage of all sales. (and perhaps they have some utility to remove the watermark when sold through the store)

So users get their cheap edition, but they also get a reason to use it. Why do people put them selves through the hassle of learning Objective-C and Cocoa for the IPhone when it’s arguably easier to develop for Windows Mobile? There’s money in it, that’s why!

Embarcadero get their $99 for the IDE and their 5-10% cut of sales, but more importantly they get a new user. Someone who would have used C# Express Edition, but saw an opportunity. Apple do have the advantage of a closed system, so perhaps it wouldn’t work for Delphi, but Embarcadero would not lose a thing by trying. The developers who currently would buy Delphi Professional, are not the target, and if done right, would still want the Professional version. Your target is that new developer about to download C# Express.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Customer Care

I was browsing Delphi tagged questions in stackoverflow yesterday, when I encountered this question. It’s all about generics in Delphi 2009. Whether they are actually usable. Here are a few clips from the answers :


I'm using generics extensively in Delphi 2009, and I can say it's not easy as you are often required to work around an ICE

All this trouble seems to be gone in Delphi 2010

Bottom line: if you want to use them, upgrade to 2010.


I have also personally mentioned before that the IDE just doesn’t seem to recognise the existence of generics (try any refactoring or code completion). So basically what we are saying is that if you bought Delphi 2009, and you want to use generics in any meaningful way, you need to fork out more money and get Delphi 2010.

Does anyone else find that disturbing? Let me give you a comparison. Let’s say you have just bought a Dell laptop. It cost about the same as Delphi 2009. The (fictional) Dell Longitude 2009. Among it’s many features, is built-in wifi. When you got the laptop, wifi kind of worked, but the laptop didn’t really recognise it had wifi, and you had to do a lot of manual stuff to get it working. When you did get it working, you noticed in some circumstances, it just refused to work, and in others it only kind of works. You complained to Dell, and they released update 2 and update 3 (some kind of bios update), which made things a lot better, and you were kind of happy. Less than a year later, Dell release the Longitude 2010. It looks like they’re not going to fix the existing wifi problems in the Longitude 2009, but if you have a 2009, they’ll give you a special price on a brand new 2010.

Would you buy Dell again? Would you not expect Dell to fix your Longitude 2009? And if they can’t or won’t, don’t you expect a refund?

I’m not singling out Embarcadero here, it is apparently industry practice. What other industry could get away with it though?

What worries me is that I have to go to my boss and ask to upgrade to Delphi 2010. I am lucky, that I work for a company that has no problems in giving us the latest tools, whatever the cost. And in the grand scheme of things, to even a small company, the price of Delphi is insignificant. However, my boss will definitely ask the question, What does Delphi 2010 give us? I can wax lyrical about increased IDE productivity, and improved RTTI, but at some point I’ll have to add the line. Well, we had a few problems with generics in D2009, but it’s all been sorted out in D2010. What kind of confidence does a line like that instil?