If you’re a new developer and you’re wondering what development tool to adopt you have to decide what pond you want to play in. Don’t be suckered by the vendor offering free conferences, and trial development tools. Don’t “go with the flow” and choose the most popular tool because no one ever got fired for choosing it. If you do, it doesn’t say much for your critical thinking capabilities. You will be competeing with every Tom, Dick and Harry out there who is doing the exact same thing. There may be plenty of jobs, but the pay rates are driven down by the market. If you have mobility and travelling around the world appeals to you, then consider a small technology pond. One like Delphi, that is a pleasure to work with, and has a devoted following. Employers are finding it more difficult to acquire qualified staff, and are willing to offer more to good candidates and do more to retain them. You can work throughout the world for good rates, when going with a more mainstream technology, employers will choose local resources. It’s also becoming more common place to telecommute, if that is your goal.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying bet your livelihood on a niche technology. I am saying position yourself with technologies (note the pluralization) so you can maximize the revenue generated from their use. That generally happens on the bleeding edge, and the twilight years. Talk to any Cobol developer about the kind of money you can make on a technology in it’s twilight years. Talk to any SAP consultant about the kind of money they make in a niche technology, and then ask your average .NET developer about the rates they get. Talk to any Objective C developer who made a fortune on the iPhone boom. Get the picture?
As a developer you should know at least two languages you can make a living with. This mitigates the risk of one of them being a niche technology, and protects you from shorter term market fluctuations. The exposure to different techniques also makes you a better developer. Today, choosing a mobile platform is likely as important as choosing a web platform was 10 years ago. As technologies converge, it’s important to have exposure to both web and desktop. Picking a platform that supports both reduces the number of languages and technologies you have to be fluent with.
Delphi offers a long history of backwards compatibility, and significant popularity (read lots of code to maintain). It’s community members are often as zealous as Apple fans and are very helpful to newies. Delphi offers many of the same features as newer languages, and has support for web, mobile and desktop to varying degrees. If FireMonkey and Embarcadero’s mobile efforts succeed, developers could experience “bleeding edge” type results in what would otherwise be a product’s twilight years.
As a niche product, or if you are an aspiring ISV, I think Delphi is worth serious consideration.