Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Recap..

Well, it's been an eventful last couple of months, to say the least.  I've not commented here on recent events for several reasons.  First of all, I've been on vacation for the last week with the family (Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure).  Secondly, I wanted to see what the tone and reactions were to some of the latest news from Borland.  So far, I'm pleased with how the customers have been reacting.  So let's recap the latest news along with my various opinions...

Tod Nielsen - New Borland CEO.  So far so good.  He's a former MS exec and has walked in the shoes of many of us in the tools and database business.  Frankly, I feel his pedigree is the best since Phillipe Kahn.  That isn't a knock to any former CEOs (at least not all of them ;-), but merely an observation.  His tag line, “Go big, or go home.“

Borland Developer Conference - Smaller venue.  More focused on developers.  Good content.  Different “feel.”  Better in some ways, and not so much in others.  I really enjoyed participating in the opening keynote and doing the “What's new in Delphi“ talk.

Borland Developer Studio 2006 - Released to manufacturing.  It was nearly a month and a half later than the original schedule due to needing more time to hit our quality criterion.  Upper management, pushed hard for the orginal release date (as they should) but know that a quality focus would pay off in the long run.  Big, big change from previous releases.  Is it perfect in every way?  Probably not quite, but it really needed to be out there so we can better know where to focus our efforts for updates. 

C++Builder 2006 - The descision to release C++Builder as a preview and update that personality later was unprecidented.  The team was stoked by this descision.  By all rights, the C++Builder personality will get a significant number of much needed fixes before the update is released (which is real soon now).

Danny Thorpe - Sticky subject, for sure.  First of all, yes, Danny has left Borland and is now working for Google.  His reasons for leaving are personal, so I'll simply quote his comments made in the borland.public.delphi.non-technical newsgroup:

Members of the Delphi Community,
 
As you've no doubt read in other threads in this newsgroup, I have left
Borland to seek new opportunities at Google.

This was not a sudden action.  I have tried my best to ensure a smooth
transition for the Delphi team, starting with transition plan
discussions with Borland management more than nine months ago.

Delphi is built by a team, not by any individual. Far greater talent
than mine has come and gone from the team, and Delphi presses on.  More
importantly, far greater talent remains in the team, some of it as yet
untapped.

As you may know, my philosphy is that teams should be built to
anticipate, tolerate, and support the comings and goings of individuals
on the team. Everyone will eventually leave the team - either by
choice, or by pine box. To ignore this is childish.

I have full confidence in the Delphi team to continue to deliver the
right stuff to keep Delphi current, innovative, and competitive for
years to come. Though there have been some difficult spots between
myself and Borland corporate management, the internal changes in
attitude and messaging in recent months from Borland corporate toward
Delphi have turned my faith in Borland supporting Delphi back toward
the positive.   I'm sure that will only get better as Todd Neilsen
steps in as the new CEO.

I'm also pleased that in some small measure my departure is creating
opportunities for advancement within the Delphi team, and that Borland
management (Boz and Steve Todd) was very supportive of "redrawing the
map" under the guidance of Allen, Michael, Eli, and myself. Several
individuals on the team have been promoted in title and/or in pay as a
result of this change. Many of those have not seen promotion or pay
raises for as long as 5 years. Borland has also committed to opening up
several new positions in the Delphi group in Scotts Valley, which may
be filled with entry or mid level engineering talent. This alone is a
significant reversal of the "No new hires in Scotts Valley" edict
earlier this year by then-CEO Dale Fuller.

I was not snatched away from Borland, and I am not leaving Borland for
lack of money.  I sought out Google, and I'll be making at Google
exactly what I made at Borland, which is nicely comfortable but not
excessive.  There were other suitors (including the obvious one) but,
quite frankly, Google outmaneuvered them.

Could Borland have bought me back?  No, because I didn't leave for
money.  Why, then?  Opportunity.  I'm going to Google to pursue ideas
and opportunities that are simply beyond Borland.  I love Delphi, I
know it inside out, but there's a lot more in me than just Delphi.
 
After 15 exciting years doing a wide variety of things at Borland, it's
time for me to do something /completely/ different.

This is not goodbye.  This is just changing channels.

-Danny Thorpe
Engineer, Google.

Let me comment by first saying that Danny's departure will certainly inccur some pain, however we've always survived the departure of other high-level team members.  What this does is open up the team to allow some of the existing talent to advance and get the opportunity to put their unique mark on the product.  It also opens up an avenue to bring in some new budding talent.  As a matter of fact, we've just hired a new, young, hot-shot engineer in an entry-level position who was with us as an intern for a year or so.  (the scary thing is that this guy was still in middle-school when Delphi was released!)  Notice I said, “team.”  That is a key point.  Delphi was, and always will be, a team effort.  Danny himself states, “Delphi was built with a team.”

On a personal note, Danny's mark will always be on the Delphi product, as will be Chuck Jazdzewski's and Anders Hejlsberg's.  I can honestly say that Delphi wouldn't be what it is today without the vision and guidance of those individuals.  I also count them all as very key to my own personal success for it is was with thier mentoring and guidance that I've been able to take over the reigns for Delphi.

So Delphi is moving forward on into the next release, codenamed Highlander.  We're still on the same roadmap.  The only things that may change is the timing.  Internally, we're investigating various agile development methodologies in order to enhance our current processes.  What is interesting about this is that it is being endorsed and supported by the exec management team.

13 comments:

  1. Thanks for the great post!!!


    One thing however: get us .Net 2.0 support asap! Just skip everything else, and support .Net 2.0 with C# in the next release... else our management might leave BDS and enter VS...


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  2. I like Tod already. I've read somewhere that he's a director with Trolltech since Sep.


    Recently, we had a Christmas party, the lyrics had "Go big, or go home"... so now I know where that phrase came from.

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  3. Allen,


    To quote Rob Schneider from various Adam Sandler movies: "YOU CAN DO IT!".


    I hope the "timing may change" line does not actually become true, but I can understand what a mammoth task it may be to follow in the footsteps of Anders, Chuck and now Danny.


    Fate has selected you to now look after our beloved Delphi as it prepares to venture into new realms (64-bit computing) and I know you'll have a great time getting her there.

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  4. Yoikes!! That tells me. Management is jamming XP down the throats - and Danny left because of it.


    Not the first time I've seen companies do stupid things. Seems no one can leave a fine well oiled machine alone any more.


    I suppose Phillipes vision of every developer with a window office (why the building in Scotts Valley was built) will be thrown out to put everyone on a folding card table in the middle of the gym so they can hear each other think (and fart and breathe).


    Argh!

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  5. Zlatibor Boro UrosevicDecember 14, 2005 at 6:02 PM

    Great post Allen!


    ...and as the new Borland CEO told during his keynote "Everyone in the industry (or at least most of them) <for some 'unknown' reason> wants Borland to win...".


    The same things is with us developers.

    We want Borland and our beloved Delphi to win, to be/remain the best of breed in the market, innovative and strong... and it seems you are on the right path to achieve it...


    All the best,

    Boro


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  6. I'm shoked...

    Didn't read new for a quite long time, and now it's like a shot in my head.

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  7. marbol,

    Management is *not* pushing XP or any other Agile methodology "down our throats." It'd be irresponsible for us to ignore it. As I simply stated, we're investigating the methodologies and concepts behind Agile. As a matter of fact it is turning out that much of the approaches behind XP/Agile, we've always been doing. Any team can stand to better fine-tune their process and that is all we're trying to do here.


    Niether my team nor myself will be setting up folding tables in the hallways or gym any time soon.


    Allen.

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  8. There is an elephant in the room here and that's the open source community and Linux. These are separate elephants. You can be open and on Windows.


    Lazarus and FPC have been dismissed in the past but these tools are growing rapidly and exponentially. For example, check out the forms designer. Lazarus is filling the niche market I mentioned above. I mention this because I believe Borland could take a leadership position in this market if done correctly.


    Microsoft is like a big whale and everyone else are like tiny fish tagging along for the ride. Every once and a while, Microsoft changes direction and everyone else has to struggle to catch up.


    Going big means getting out from behind the whale.

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  9. I also add my thanks, Allen, for the informative post. Delphi is a profound part of my professional experience. Given a choice among relatively equal tools, I will choose Delphi. As long as the Delphi/VS gap does not significantly widen in the future, I will continue with Delphi. Feeling like a part of the community goes a long way, and posts like yours help enhance that sense of community.

    I had several occasions to sit and just chat with Danny at various conferences (about photography and physics, etc, not just coding). I believe him when he states that he has full confidence in the current team. Although I can only hope the "far greater talent remains in the team" comment is not just self-deprecation...


    I would also add my vote for placing .NET 2.0 support at the very top of the priority list

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  10. I AM SHOCked! i agree it is private but we should support borland MORE AND MORE!


    :)) i hopes borland and google merge together to beat microsoft!



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  11. I am sorry to see Danny go, but I can understand why. I have personally conversed with him via e-mail and he has always been very responsive (usually within an hour or so). That being said, I agree that there is a lot of talent on the Delphi R&D team. Delphi (now Borland Developer Studio) has always been a best-of-breed of product in my life as a developer and I have every confidence in Allen's ability to assume this role. Anders' unbridled passion in creating the original Delphi I believe still lives in the product today and I hope that the passion of others (past, present, and future) continue to make Borland Developer Studio the best-of-breed that I believe everyone wants it to be.

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  12. What many of us want to hear is who will take the compiler forward (generics etc.) and when. At the moment there is some doubt about Borland's ability to deliver on this front. (see for example Steve Teixeira's comment on Nick Hodge's blog).

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  13. I am sure Higlander with Dot Net 2 support will be released by Jul.Otherwise it will be tool late.

    IDE for CF should be out by the same time.

    All other things can wait

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