Archive for September, 2012

EMBT Surveys the Damage

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

If you’re an XE2 user you probably just got an email from DavidI with a link to a new SurveyMonkey survey EMBT has published aimed at XE2 users who have not upgraded to XE3.  One might think they are seeing few XE2 users upgrade to XE3 despite their “bonus” pack.  It’s a positive move on EMBT’s part, showing they are at least concerned with the situation.  Make sure to give them your opinion, including issues like this!

EMBT Cross Promotions

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Anyone who has seen all the cross promotional bundling (or bungling if you prefer ;) ) offers that EMBT has been making with Rad Studio and Delphi might be amazed that EMBT has not done something about IBConsole.  I previously blogged about the buggy and unintuitive interface, and was not surprised to hear that most Interbase users have opted to add IBExpert or Database Workbench to their toolkit.

Considering Database Workbench now has a free lite version, it seems like a no-brainer that EMBT should dump IBConsole, and partner with Upscene, or HK-Software to bundle one or more of these free tools with at least the Interbase developer edition. 

After all, my parents taught me that if “you’re going to to something, do it to the best of your ability or not at all”.  Assuming I was competent, that translated to “Do it well or not at all”.  Distributing IBConsole with Interbase provides a negative impression of the product. But wait!  Doesn’t EMBT also sell database tools?

Buying the Privilege to Beta Test

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

I just read JT’s latest post about the virtues of XE3, and was appalled by the last paragraph “*Access to mobile beta requires an active XE3 Professional Edition or higher developer license“.

So now, not only do you have to expend the effort to beta test, you have to pay for the privilege, and it’s inferred that mobile development will likely become a new SKU.  What about all the people who bought XE2 for the promised mobile development with early, often, and regular updates to FireMonkey ?  They’re left with something that JT admits requires substantial effort to produce a mobile application for a full 2 years.

It really seems like EMBT is trying to maintain or increase sales by putting the screws to it’s existing customers by changing the EULA, and requiring upgrades to the latest version in order to see what’s coming down the pipe, but didn’t make it for XE3.

It’s one thing to ask your users to have faith that you will eventually deliver on grandiose plans with limited resources and an apparent lack of focus, and quite another to ask them for money at the same time.  I would encourage the Delphi community to let EMBT know what your think of these decisions both vocally and with your wallet.

A Sinking Ship or a Submarine?

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

The departure of Barry Kelly, a compiler engineer, at a time when EMBT is devoting quite possibly the most effort on their compilers in a long time, is certainly not a good sign for EMBT.  Especially when he says “I was in the same position for more than six years, but I didn’t necessarily want to be pigeonholed as a compiler guy”.  What that says to me, is that EMBT has some serious human resource issues.  Keeping talented and devoted staff is a necessity for any IT company.  You are only as good as your people.  When people leave without having another position, it usually indicates major organizational dysfunction.

I’ve also heard that EMBT is losing senior staff because salaries have not been increased since EMBT bought CodeGear, and Barry’s statement that “I’d fallen out of love with Delphi, and could no longer motivate myself to try and make it better - the gap I’d try to bridge would be a gap too far for the market to bear.” is also very disconcerting.

I remember when I worked for a ticketing company (I would be interested in doing that again - too bad Gateway isn’t hiring remote developers).  I was gung ho to make the software the best of the best, but due to technical limitations we couldn’t do so without some significant re-engineering.  Management would not approve the work, and financially the company was in a holding pattern, unable to compete and grow without the necessary technical, marketing and process changes.  The company was public, and initially I thought the possibilities were endless.  As an insider I was privy to some of the politics, bad decisions, and lack of vision.  I eventually fell out of love with the idea of spending my career there, and left.  I was the first rat to leave the sinking ship, and many followed shortly after I left.  Within a year the company’s stock price fell from their IPO to $0.13/share and within 2 years they closed the doors.

I certainly hope that EMBT does not follow this pattern, and their Delphi sales figures seem to indicate that is not the case, but for how long?  I’ve read the XE3 release notes, and although the presentation is tomorrow here in Calgary, there doesn’t seem to be anything worth upgrading for.  Actions for FMX are one of the few features I would like, and IMHO they should have been included in one of the promised updates for XE2.  The real news seems to be that iOS support is being dropped (at least for now), and there is nothing for Android, or Linux yet because EMBT’s new compilers are not ready.  Another year has gone by, and nothing monumental has been produced, and since I’ve seen little in the way of QC fixes, I don’t believe XE3 is the result of CANI (constant and never ending improvement).  They’re also bundling it out of the gate with other third party products in an effort to create the perception of more value.

If you look at some of the decisions made by EMBT as of late, I really begin to wonder.  The EULA fiasco seems to be yet another way that EMBT is alienating their existing customers.  Add to that, not following through on the promised early, often, and regular updates to FireMonkey, not fixing QC reports in a timely fashion, and not concentrating on core functionality that only EMBT can do, (like compilers - object binding is already available in hcOPF, tiOPF, and Bold to name a few), and the picture of a company who has no clear objectives,  leadership and a poor relationship with their user community starts to take form.  If you’re having problems keeping your existing users happy, it’s really hard to attract new ones.  This is not very different than Borland in it’s later days (is EMBT also doing ALM?).  Perhaps too many old Borland employees in key positions came to EMBT through the CodeGear purchase and are reverting to old behaviours.

I hope for the community’s sake I’ve succumbed to the dark side thanks to reading too many of Joylon’s posts :-) but when you start to see negativity seeping into other community bloggers that are normally quite positive it’s hard to keep kidding yourself.  Hopefully, EMBT is not a sinking ship, but rather a submarine (they move faster under water than on the surface, and are very effective in their role by keeping a low profile).  Otherwise, my current Delphi contract might be my last…and that would truly make me sad.