Friday, 15 January 2010

Delphi is Dying

Don’t you just hate those Delphi is Dying blog posts? I do? We have been bombarded by messages of doom since about Delphi 4. “Delphi is dying” they scream. “No it’s not”, we counter. “It’s alive and kicking”.

The problem is, I think they finally may just be right. Now I’m a big fan of Delphi, I have been since Delphi 1 (and if you count Turbo Pascal, then a lot longer still), but if I’m beginning to despair, then what hope is there? It’s got absolutely nothing to do with what other people are saying. It’s just a feeling I get from trawling the internet every day looking for Delphi related stuff. There used to be a time when you needed something, you googled it (probably, yahooed it in those days), and you’d get tonnes of hits with sample code, downloads and documentation galore. What do you get now? Almost exclusively you get abandon-ware. Code that hasn’t been updated from Delphi 6 or 7. Half finished components with no, or poor documentation. I guess this didn’t happen over night, but up until Delphi 2009, you’d find some Delphi 5 code, compile it (in say Delphi 2006), and you’re off. Now, with the unicode changes in Delphi 2009, you invariably have to work hard to get any code to compile and work properly. Rather than moan about it, I should perhaps give back to these open source projects, and post my changes somewhere, but to be honest, a lot of the code is so half baked, that it’s just not worth it. You need to not only fix the unicode problems, but do a whole lot more to make anything worthwhile.

 

No doubt, I’ll get a few comments regarding how great Delphi 2010 is, and I won’t disagree. This post is not about how good or bad the IDE is. You can do anything with Delphi today. Sure it has some deficiencies, but what language/platform doesn’t? On the whole though, you can produce fast, compact and useful applications with Delphi. But that’s not the point. The point is that developers are abandoning it in droves. I have no scientific data to prove or disprove that statement, but I do have a feeling. It’s beginning to feel like a ghost town. I’ve just woken up, and realised everybody’s left.

49 comments:

sul1nko said...

You are not alone, I was just awaken too :)

Anonymous said...

Is Delphi 2007 Visual Basic 6? Because everyone seems to be afraid to move to Unicode...

David Champion said...

you may be right. But I also think there are a number of things the EMB need to do to make it more relevant, more useful to present day developers. Such as Entry level product(s), keen pricing, X-platform, 64 bit, ORM, business expansion and acquistion. All of these need support from Thoma Cressey Bravo and good management with vision and nerve.

Anonymous said...

However much I still love Delphi, most of my day work is in C#. The change came gradually. Delphi's IDE is out-priced for the small company needing some small scale development thus they choose another language though Delphi might've been a better fit. The company grows and they never change because all the code is in the chosen technology. Big companies usually have some kind of licensing agreement with MS or go for Java. I know of a couple of companies that started their software in D5 (Non legal version), grew and bought D7 and upgraded ever since (However some decided to change because of a lack of junior developers). It will take time to convert all the legacy code to D9+ and if junior developers don't come on board the trend will continue. Delphi now need partnerships with tertiary institutions, a Unicode Turbo and some coolness factor.

Azeroth said...

I have noticed this, although I have no idea where they have left to. I mean there are no proper alternatives. Anyway, the reason I've noticed is because recently I've been converting some C# code to Delphi code just because I could not find good Delphi code.

info said...

I'm not a programmer, I do it just for hobby. I was a Delphi 1 and Delphi 2 user, and what you say is true: it was very easy to find a lot of information, and there was no garbage at all. But, what do you think if I say that writing desktop application has not the same role as it had 10 years ago?

jpluimers said...

Actually, this bashing started pre-Delphi 1 with "AppBuilder (back then the codename for Delphi) will never be successful".

Maybe the bashing people are afraid?

Delphi is still my number one tool for building native applications running on client PC's.

.NET has its place at the server side (and I use it there a lot!), but Delphi is far more productive than WPF and WinForms on the client side.

Similar for Java: good for server side, bad for client side.

And don't get me started at cross platform client side apps...

--jeren

Bob Swart said...

I'm still here ;-)

Anonymous said...

You are not the only one with sour taste in mouth when it comes to Delphi.

There are many like you.

I will stay that Delphi will stay on the scene for a very very long time.

Good developers are evacuating from Delphi facility so to say ;).

But I think they are right in their decision.

I read a lot that Delphi is the only true compiler in the programming market which is OOP, etc. etc. etc. but does that make Delphi a sell able product, an adoptable product? The answer is glaring NO!

Delphi is a true compiler so are many other products which aer true compilers and they are truly usable but hold a very small market share and that is exactly what is happening to Delphi.

Delphi is really very good but it is unaffordable by individuals who are Delphi fans and most corporate houses do not want to buy it.

Just recently I was chatting with a developer who is working in very large IT company. They invested around US $1 million in development tools (from IBM) across all their development centers and you know what did they choose. JAVA!

I asked the person why take the Java route when there are other options available. It is more affordable compared to other development tools. According to their estimate if they has gone for any other development tools they will have had to spend around 4.3 million!

Anonymous said...

IMHO most left around D7, with the great gap with nothing new until D8. And many of those that stayed until D8 left with D8, with D2005 squashing the last hopefuls.

That's why most of the code you can find these days is from the D5-D7 era, and a faire share is actually older than that, just quickly ported to D7.

As for speed and compactness advantages, with D2010, it is rather slim when compared to alternative development tools, because of lack of compiler performance improvements, because of old Borland libraries quickly ported to unicode, etc.

Smurff said...

To be honest I agree. I hate to say it but I do. From a "create a nice gui for a windows app" its great but I am getting pushed to Java/python/C# by the people I work for. I dont know what embarcadero could do.

Anonymous said...

Well, not everybody. We are here - to remain.

Regards,

Klaus

darkenes said...

My god man... It's so sad...

Toff said...

Maybe it's also because there is no version available for hobbyist.
Delphi 6 & 7 had a personal edition with component support.

LDS said...

One of the problems is perhaps that many Delphi project were born well before sourceforge or the like, and there always be very little help and coordination among developers but some exceptions (i.e. Jedi). Look at what happended to Turbo Power stuff. Most used it, someone patched it and released the code on their own site, but until recentrly noone cared to join the project on SF, merge the patch and take care of new releases. And anyway, most of the patch just update the old code to work with newer releases, but noone really update the code (especially LockBox, old security is often no security). Unluckily, this is a genetic stigma of the Delphi community.
Add this to the fact that the VCL now offers less than many frameworks, that Pascal is out of fashion, the high price/feature ratio and that's why Delphi is slowy decaying, if not dying.

waccos consulting said...

Buuuaaahhhh ... Delphi the new ghostscript. The IDE of the zombies;-).

I think this descibes it best - zombie ...

All guys reading this blog know where to use... and where Delphi performs. In almost every area ...

Delphi is not dead in the meaning it has a reliable customer base, maybe one day others recognize that there is a way to come to the market fast and solid.

The failure of most tiny companies was and is still the believe in everlasting truth. But people and descision makers view to the same truth changes... --> mainstream.

Mike

Jay said...

The company I work for will not be buying any more Delphi... we have three copies of D2007 Enterprise, and those will be the last.

Not my choice, but theirs.

Anonymous said...

Finally, a voice of reason amidst the fervent ideological clatter. You say that most code you find on the internet nowadays dates from the days of Delphi 6 & 7; this also happens to be the time Borland/CodeGear made the utterly baffling decision to discontinue the personal editions of Delphi. Coincidence? I think not. How CodeGear can hope to compete for the hearts of new developers and hobbyists, when Microsoft and Nokia (via Qt) are offering workable (and, let's face it, superior) IDEs for zero, is beyond me, but even their professional products are priced way too high. Frankly, it looks to me like they're sticking it to the loyalists, and if that's their strategy then all they can hope to do is watch their user base contract ever more until it finally implodes. Either way, hopefully CodeGear will pull their heads out and find ways (like creating a hobbyist SKU) to attract new developers/hobbyists (you know, the sort that writes code and contributes it to the public for nothing), instead of relying exclusively on what few (however zealous) supporters they have left.

Jeamie said...

thats a very "english" point of view. In other (unicode)-languages you will find tons of new codes and tips, p.e. in german, spanish, portugesh, russian. Th point is, that, sorry, you "ansi-english guys" ;-) think the whole web is in english.

Its definitvely not..

Warren said...

I'm sick of those "Aren't you sick of those Delphi is dying posts" posts.

:-)

W

Anonymous said...

I agree with your comments, the language and development tools are second to none. The problem we have is hiring decent Delphi developers. This is the primary reason why we are considering other languages for our next product.

fabio vitale said...

You cannot imagine how happy I was when I read your post: I've a similar feeling except that for me Delphi is not dying: it is already died!

I'm a delphi developer (since version 1), I love it, but I'll not upgrade from version 7: if I have to do some move I'll look into something else. There is no single compelling reason to upgrade from 7 to 2010: you can setup everything in 7 and stick with it. I do not care unicode, I do not care generics. I do care save my money.

Charlie said...

Embarcadero needs to make a more concerted effort to get new and young developers to Delphi - but I disagree that Delphi is dying. Three or four years ago - before codegear then embarcadero - there were dark times for Delphi and I think a lot of folks left. However, there is a new energy, a new committment and more talented team around Delphi now - which can be seen in the great quality of Delphi 2007-Delphi 2010. People are also once again seing the the performance and ease of distribution value of native code - especially with the general good reveiws of Windows 7 and Windows server 2008 (I don't get the "it has to be .net" all the time like I did 3 years ago). There are outstanding 3rd party components available from RemObjects, DevExpress, TMS and others. Finally, after using Delphi Prism for a couple of months, Delphi developers have a great way to create asp.net/web applications. And there is talk and investment in providing compilers for other platforms (win 64, OS10, etc).

To summarize, I, as the Founder, President and CEO of a 3 year running Inc company (Inc list of fastest growing privately held companies in US) that builds its software products primarily in Delphi, am very happy with the direction of Delphi and Embarcadero.

Fletch said...

I somehow agree with you. Specially if you look from the job market perspective. I am located in the USA.
I was fortunate enough to be able to move jobs and stay within Delphi programming. But I'm not sure how long I will be able to keep doing that.
Also, there is a tendency everywhere to migrate from Delphi to .net ASAP -
"If it doesn't work we must migrate to .net!" :(

Colin said...

www.isdelphidying.com

nealk3nc said...

I don't want to agree with you but tend towards your opinion. I see 3 things that lead me in your direction:
1. The turbulence of ownership/direction of Delphi over the years have scared off corporations who are mostly risk averse.
2. Embarcadero so overly prices the product that only corporations can afford it, which means the marketing strategy points to nowhere
3. Delphi is considered 'old school' by the major software evangelists (yes, most are employed by the big boys or are there because of their own creations) so people see no leading edge things using Delphi. The most adventurous coder I personally know works in Delphi 7 which is not a competitive IDE in todays markey.

Delphi needs to recogize that it is currently a niche market tool. It needs to treat the customers like kings and lower their price so they start becoming a surge product again.

I know they point to the price of other programming suites for price comparisons, but no one pays those prices. My subscription to the thing that replaced MSDN cost me 265 USD this year and it gives me access to download their products without timeout.

If All-Access cost 400 bucks, we might be talking but as it is, the people they need to make a ground-swell cannot afford it.

I think 2010 is a great product. The Architect version should cost what the Pro version is listed at and then calculate the prices of Enterprize and Pro proportionally.

Larry Hengen said...

I think you're doing the product and community you love a disservice by posting that Delphi is Dying. If you hate those posts so much why do one yourself?

I believe Delphi is on the rebound. I think after 10 years of .Net people are beginning to see that native code is not dead, and Delphi is still one of the best native code tools out there despite the fact it stagnated for so long. It's not out of the woods yet though. Embarcadero has to b careful to keep their existing customers, and bring in new ones. They really need a 64 bit compiler with Windows 7 shipping, and Mac OS/X * Linux support could be a great step forward if it's done well. Pricing as always is critical.

If you love the tool, and want to see it flourish, then I would suggest you:

1) act as an ambassador by talking to people about it's merits

2) blog about it more often (other than It's Dying) so there will be more Google hits.

3) update those abandoned components if they still have some value.

4) participate in the community to make it more vibrant. Join an Open Source project, get into discussions on Stack Overflow, and the newsgroups.

There are lots of ways YOU can keep Delphi alive. Giving up on it and following the crowd with .Net is not one of them.

Jon Lennart Aasenden said...

I was thinking the same thing the other day, but i also realized something else. Most of those who used to post tons of code are now grown up. Their code is invested in serious projects, money making projects, rather than freeware components.

I have tons of code, and i know many delphi coders that also has tons of code. Both unicode and modern -- but we dont share that easily any more because, well, money in the box.

So I would say you are right, but i dont think it's as gloomy as you might think. There are thousands of delphi coders still active, and delphi is still used to make commercial projects -- but somehow things have changed. We have changed.

I just set up a new blog @ http://delphimax.wordpress.com/

Bruce McGee said...

If it makes you feel any better, there is anecdotal and other unofficial signs that Delphi adoption is actually on the rise. Note some of the entry level questions in the technical forums and communities like Stack Overflow.

Now, if we could only get Embarcadero to say so out loud.

Miguel Guzmán said...

I have been in Delphi since Delphi 4, and in those years "yahoed" tons of examples, TeamB works very well learned from the web. Now it's dificult to find support, TeamB doesn't exists anymore and .Net is in the mouth of everybody. It's time to change of live in an ghost town. I'm very sorry.

Cameron said...

Agreed. The ghost town comment could not be more accurate especially here in the states

Anonymous said...

Well, I recall the shock when Microsoft said, to migrate from VB6 to VB.NET - you have to rewrite.

In my company, a certain degree of disillusionment has set in over the whole .NET thing. Big, slow, and the GUI side still not as granular as VCL. And 3rd party libs are overcomplicated.

I agree the desktop application market is not what is was, though.

Anonymous said...

In German there is a nice term i like in regard to all that "Delphi is dying stuff":

Totgesagte leben länger!

In English comparable to:
There's life in the old dog yet.

Captain Jake said...

The problem I have woth these "Delphi is dying" discussions is that nobody defines what they mean by "dying". In the strictest sense everything is dying, in the sense that every minute that passes brings evrything closer to the date of their disappearance.

If you define "dead" as no decent-paying full time permanent jobs being available when you need to look for a job, then Delphi has been dead for many years. Here in the United States, anyone that wants continual employment in Delphi will have to be willing to relocate to just about anywhere. There are a few piecemeal contracts available (I have a few for nights and weekends to supplement my FT contract doing C++), but FTE positions doing Delphi are rare indeed.

On the other hand, Delphi has always been the secret weapon of the independent software author. In that capacity it is far from dead. It's future in that regard looks pretty good too, as crossplatform materializes. If you want to write a best-selling killer app, Delphi is still the best choice, by far. As long as Delphi exists at all, it is going to be alive and well in this sense. I personally so no reason why Delphi would not thrive in this area for many years to come.

Corporate America is entirely fad-driven, has always been so, and will always be so. Whether it is "the cloud" or some other mindless pap, the latest fad will always be fickle and an unreliable mistress to those who would imagine themselves to be faithful. I've watched the "dead" Delphi outlive such "sure things" as Visual Cafe, J++, native VB, and so on. Heck, I remember when Symantec used to have a C++ tool.

The truth of the matter is that any discussion of "X is dying" is ultimately an attempt to predict the future. That can not be done. By anybody.

Anonymous said...

The biggest weakness of Delphi 2010 is lack of training materials for new or potential customers.

Visit any bookstore and see how many books they have about Delphi 2010. Heck, visit amazon.com and see how many they have.

Books about Delphi coming out are rare. And they focus on experienced Delphi programmers.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it's dead and do believe they are moving in the right direction. The community seems to be healthier than it has been in a while, but I do believe the world of business apps in particular has changed a lot and those changes aren't particularly beneficial to Delphi. The default bias of an increasing number of business application customers is towards web apps plain and simple. I/T departments in particular love web apps and cringe at the thought of anything being installed on the clients. If this trend continues in business application development then Delphi will continue to have strong headwinds for acceptance. I've seen a few applications in the last couple years that were in Delphi that had been migrated to Citrix delivery and the modules were being redone in an ASP.NET front end one at a time. I see that as a bigger threat to native Delphi apps than anything else.

xSpiky said...

I think that you are not right, Delphi is (finally) in right hands and IMHO is in rise (after black years). But publishing articles of this type is the worst what can do.

Yes, there are problems and at first there is a price (I hope that Embarcadero preparing cheap version - there are signs of this).

Unicode - this was needed, and because I am not english man I know how important this can be.

Alexandre Machado said...

Well, I'm a Delphi developer and customer since version 1.
Talking about prices, nobody in Borland/CodeGear/Embarcadero could ever explain to me why I always paid - much - more (in US$) for the same Delphi version (I'm brazilian). Nowadays I have to pay almost TWICE for the same Delphi 2010 Enterprise. I should be studying some new D2010 features, but can you explain to me if I should pay more than US$ 3,000 to install an "educational" version of Delphi 2010 here in my laptop just to learn generics??? Instead, I've instaled a copy of VS2008 Express and I'm learning C# more and more each day. My next project will be a C# one.
Embarcadero guys live in Dreamland. The days that they could charge US$ 3,000 for an IDE in a third world country are OVER!

Someone said something about TeamB: Two or three guys do a great job, outside non-tech. But the old non-tech TeamB sapammers should be kicked out there. You know the guys. A complete disservice to the community.
Some TeamB member writes more in a month than Shakespeare wrote in his whole life!!! If this guy could write ONE line of usefull Delphi code for each hour of his life that he spends writing useless "absolute truths" in non-tech he could have a new OS better than Windows 7, completely written in Delphi! :)

I will continue to use Delphi - the versions that I own today - to build native applications. But I don't think Embarcadero will see my money again as long as this "3K bucks for an IDE" price policy continues.

Best regards

Ralph said...

"Delphi is Dying"

As indeed are we all. It's just that some of us are dying more quickly than others.

Seems to me that Delphi has been dying for around 15 years now. Funny how it isn't actually dead yet though.

Beginning to see some "Windows is dying" posts pop up occasionally. Now there's sum fun :-).

Wilfred said...

I am so sad that the product is so wrongly priced that its hard to justify the purchase in a world where VS Express editions are available. Especially when you are the only surviving Delphi developer in th house. Delphi 2010 pro should be USD299.

Anonymous said...

I'm one of those who changed from Delphi to C#. Now I'm happy. No more 12 3rd parties components (zip, crypt, GUI, localisation, ...), but solid and stable .NET framework.
The productivy raises up to 3 times. The Delphi was my favorie platform for 9 years, but it is away now.

Anonymous said...

I've been on C#/C++ for quite a while now. I still prefer the readability of Delphi/Delphi Prism over anything else. My company has a huge C
++/C# codebase, and reading and navigating through other people's code is a big pain in the rear.
I'm using Ubuntu (x64/ARM9), Windows and Mac whch means I'm really interested the Delphi crossplatform story.

As for pricing, I think that they need a reality check.
Jetbrains gets this right their individual developer license, where they sell IntelliJ for 209 Euros. I wish Embarcadero would consider something like that.

Anonymous said...

Delhi is very high priced. So high that my company cannot afford it and we are forced to other technologies. We can afford to pay 499 EURO for Delphi Professional, but we cannot pay 1400 EURO.

Anonymous said...

Same here.. I could not convince my boss that the cost of new licenses would actually pay off with the amount of Delphi work we do today.
Basically that means that our upgrade cycle has currently stopped indefinitely, which means we'll probably do even less Delphi work in the future.

I would certainly buy Delphi for personal use if it were reasonably priced, just to support my favorite IDE. The cost is so ridiculous that I decided to just use an illegal version at home.

Conclusion: Delphi is dying at my office, and in a way at home too. For my career it's probably best if I start specializing in C# (instead of Delphi) as soon as possible.

Anonymous said...

www.isdelphidying.com

Peter said...

I am a longtime Delphi developer. I personally bought the first few editions but now I just the versions my employer provides.

When my son showed an interest in learning programming, I installed Turbo Delphi that I downloaded about 3 years ago. He likes it. He's 13. He wants to make games (of course). He wants to major in computer science in college. He's probably a future Delphi fan. Why? Because of the free edition he was exposed to early on.

I am not a marketer/salesman and I confess most marketing looks like nonsense to me. But I'm willing to chalk that up to my ignorance. I am, however, a programmer and a father and I think I have witnessed the creation of an apparently rare phenomenon: the young Delphi programmer.

Anonymous said...

You could say C++ is dying. he-he. With all those new technologies like WPF that works only with .net code.

But is Microsoft using .net for their products? No. They use C++.

Why? Because it's MUCH faster than any of those new technologies.

This can be easily applied to Delphi applications \ tools.

Bruce McGee said...

@Peter,

I could not agree more that Embarcadero needs a more entry level SKU, preferably without stripping out so many features that nobody wants to use it.

Point your son here. Sign up for a free membership and select Delphi under the Programming topics. There are some detailed tutorial videos using Turbo Delphi, including one that walks you through writing a game.

http://www.3dbuzz.com

Senthil Kumar said...

@ Larry Hengen . You are right to an extent .
Anyone's who like to do that would be great .

Infact i moved from C#/.NET to Delphi 7 and have been working on it since last 8-9 Months and very comfortable too.

And i always make it a point to blog ( WWW.GINKTAGE.COM ) about something that work with .