Coming Down from the Mountain

I got a very disturbing email tonight from a prominent EMBT team member who took exception to one of my comments.  Instead of addressing my comment on the same blog by replying to it, he instead sent me an unsolicited email which ended with the comment

Jon Stewart just called me and asked me to ask you: “when is Larry going to come down from b@11s$&t mountain?”

I found this to be a juvenile, completely irrelevant comment.  Besides that, the EMBT team member looks more like moses than I do, so it was confusing ;)
Now I don’t know what you think of my opinions concerning Delphi or EMBT, but whether you agree with them or not, I would think you would probably expect as I do, that any EMBT representative would conduct themselves in a professional manner even if they disagree with the content of my posts, or my comments on a public website.  I would also expect that they address my comments in public where they were made, instead of sending me private emails and hiding behind a confidentiality signature stating:

CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: This email message is for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential and privileged information. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply email and destroy all copies of the original message.

EMBT can regulate their corporate newsgroups anyway they see fit.  If speaking out means having my posting privileges suspended like Joanna Carter, so be it, but what does that say about a company when they are so worried about trying to control what people are saying, instead of listening to what they are saying and addressing the concerns?  Why does Developer Relations seem to be an extension of the marketing machine, instead of a department who works to establish and maintain good relations with the development community, EMBT’s customers?

I’m an adult, I can handle it when people have a different viewpoint.  I can even admit when I’m wrong if people with opposing viewpoints care to make a good counter argument. That’s what makes a community stronger.  If there was never a dissenting voice, then we would all be forever treated like cattle by our governments, and we would all have our individual needs as developers overlooked by companies trying to sell us what they’re marketing department dreamed up as products even if they’re half finished.  IOW, status quo.  We have a right and a responsibility if we care about something (in this case Delphi), to not just request what we want, but demand it until we’re heard, and a responsibility to back it up with our money.  Personally, I won’t buy another edition of Delphi until I get some of my top QC issues fixed.  I don’t understand why EMBT doesn’t employ bug bounties.  I contributed to Andreas Hausladen’s efforts because he actually fixed some of the performance issues I was facing in Delphi, even in something as old as Delphi 7 (among other releases).

Perhaps it’s for the best….Delphi interest here is declining, and when my current contract is finished, I can’t see continuing to bet my livelihood on a tool where fixing bugs, and providing positive customer interaction seems to be such a low priority.  I don’t need any more road apples in my inbox.

So from now on, I think I will restrict my blog posts to hcOPF and other technical issues, but don’t be surprised if that doesn’t last long.  I’m thinking about getting Oxygene because I’m more confident it will ship when promised, and provide the iOS, Android, OS/X, Linux, and Windows support including 64 bit EXEs which has yet to materialize in the Delphi world despite a rather catchy slogan of Delphi Everywhere. It’ll be like a breath of fresh air…

25 Responses to “Coming Down from the Mountain”

  1. Frank Says:

    I agree, this kind of message from David I looks very unprofessional.

    I had spoke with some guys from Dev Relations in the past and the conversation was totally different, it’s time to have someone more professional ahead of Dev Relations at Embarcadero.

  2. Mark Says:

    We are on the same boat, bugs and bugs that make me less productive.

    I don’t think they will fix, specially now that many senior engineers left Embarcadero and the majority now are juniors.

    I’m only maintaining old projects with Delphi, new projects I use .NET

  3. Wouter Says:

    Are you saying that hcopf won’t last long either?
    Will it be safe to create new projects that make use of it?

  4. Chris Says:

    I don’t know, first you complain about personal emails not being sent, then you complain when they are ;-) More seriously, I wouldn’t take the confidentiality notice in the signature much to heart, as that’s standard corporate practice in a lot of places.

  5. Michael Thuma Says:

    Any idea what - b@11s$&t - does mean and who is Jon Stewart? (very likely not an EMB employee). James Stewart I know.

    You can jump ship to Oxygene safely - most of us are already there.

  6. John Jacobson Says:

    [yawn] I think you are reacting like a kid. Delphi has been dead for years now. Yes, new versions still are released. Yes, a few individuals still use it. But almost nobody knows what it is anymore, nobody nobody hires for it, and anyone that bases their career on it had better be prepared to be a world traveler. And your threat to move to Oxygene is silly, since that is even more obscure and the personnel managing that are even worse.

    I gave up on Delphi after buying XE2. The upgrade price for XE3 is too high for my tastes and the infinitesimal changes it contains. HTML5Builder looks intriguing and nicely priced. However I have found no shortage of jobs for Java, C++ and C#.

  7. Shane Says:

    Jon Stewart is an American political satirist, writer, television host, actor, media critic and stand-up comedian.

    b@11s$&t means BS. Isn’t it obvious.

    As for EBM - they are on a one way trip to nowhere…and have been. Our company purchased Delphi products all the way up to Delphi 2010. We also had all of our clients purchasing Interbase licenses as well. They are no longer receiving our companies money! We still use Delphi 7 for legacy code, and Delphi 2010 for current code……but we are transitioning everything away from Delphi and have been since 2011 (Total re-write of our applications) using Java and DHTML/Javascript PORTS. My company got fed up with the release of a new product every year, rediculous upgrade and maintenance fees, and the not wanting to listen to their customer base in what should be included in new releases. C-Ya Embarcadero - you are surving on fumes!

  8. Michael Thuma Says:

    Shane - Thank you very much. I did not know this The Daily Show for example. I love the EBM:)

    Larry H. interesting point. I can imagine that EBM is not happy with your posts, anyway I tend to share your view. In the end we are all part of the Pascal folk (nationality) but are treated as citizens. EBM is not the state/government but they behave similar. Perspective of perception. Most of us are more or less anarchos, looking at us from nowadays thinking in IT. This does not fit together with paying taxes for Nero’s great visions… not my opinion, but I think more or less many customers experience Delphi/EBM this way. Delphi developers pay for a good box of cold beer before the big battle in Fort Alamo, but not taxes!

    The movement to exactly what Shane described was caused in Austria by Microsoft’s shameless behavior. Their argument was - you cannot escape now you pay. Such a card a vendor plays one time exactly the last time here. Nothing Delphi specific … in the end an the empty cover will remain and people will have moved on.

  9. ObjectMethodology.com Says:

    Larry,

    Why does EMB have to be an open book? Let’s focus on Delphi the product. If you stop posting about Delphi then the community pays.

    I saw some of the responses to the Te Waka post and they were not the kind of things people should be involved with who don’t work at EMB.

    I think some of the new things in Delphi are great and I want people to talk about what we can do with Delphi. I don’t want to hear what can’t be done. I can’t sell what can’t be done. I can only sell what can be done.

    We as Delphi developers should be working on building a Delphi following. Not doing anything that harms it.

    Rick

  10. Nick Hodges Says:

    Larry –

    I commend you for not saying who sent the email. Clearly that was not good.

    “and Windows support including 64 bit EXEs which has yet to materialize in the Delphi world despite a rather catchy slogan of Delphi Everywhere.”

    Not sure what you mean — Delphi XE has a 64-bit compiler.

  11. Larry Hengen Says:

    @Rick,

    While I agree with you that we should never do anything to harm Delphi, we should also try to prevent parties from doing harm by their actions, or lack of action. Just as you would protect a child you love from harm…

    I don’t think there is anything we shouldn’t be able to discuss as Delphi customers, when we’re affected by it.

  12. Kent Morwath Says:

    Sorry Rick, but as a developer and manager all I have to build is applications that my customers (and hopefully new ones) will buy and keep the company I work for afloat. Building a “Delphi following” is up to Embarcadero, not us. I don’t get any benefit if my applications are written in Delphi, C#, Java, Python or C++. I have requirements and deadlines to meet. If Delphi today barely meets the requirements for native Windows applications, it has a problem. Hiding it under the carpet because it has now a xplat GUI library that barely works and can - with lot of efforts on the developer side - target MacOSX, well, will lead the product nowhere. It’s just making angry its actual customer base, and it’s not getting more developers on the other platform. Even without the news about dev teams disdanded, new developers hired in countries know more for cheap labour cost than highly skilled developers, the actual state of products is under every developer eyes - quality still so-so, bugs that take ages to be fixed, yearly releases just to get some cash and keep SA going, long dealys before supporting new OS features (Unicode, 64 bits, now WinRT). And North-Korean-like flow of informations - betas allowed only to those who buy the latest release (sure, those are not who complains…), a lot of propaganda but little real improvements. Like C++ Builder, at each realease Delphi covers less of what a Windows developer needs, and very little of what a real Mac developer needs. The problem is exactly what we can do with Delphi: less and less every year.

  13. Lachlan Gemmell Says:

    I don’t think it was particularly wise of you to publish this correspondence, it was obviously intended as a private conversation and I feel you should have respected the sender’s intentions.

    It’s impossible for us, your readers, to draw accurate conclusions from a single sentence of what I assume was a much larger email. The fact the author references a comedian further obscures his message for those of us who don’t have the full context. Was he being serious or is he just gently chiding you? From my uninformed point of view it can easily be read either way.

    Please don’t take this as a request to publish the full text of the correspondence, rather I recommend you take down this post and continue your conversation with the original sender privately.

    Respectfully,

    Lachlan Gemmell

  14. Eric Says:

    @Lachlan Regardless, it’s usually considered bad manners to make private, unpublishable responses to public statements, especially simple informal comments like Larry’s.

    Why? First because it’s seen as shady, and second because it’s easy to cross the thin frontier between gentle chiding and bullying in those.

    Either ones opinion on someone else’s public opinion are honest and can be public, or if they can’t… they’re best never voiced, especially not in private unpublishable correspondence.

    It’s just an extension in the digital era of the traditional “Right of Reply” from the printed era.

  15. ObjectMethodology.com Says:

    @Larry,

    Yes, discussing Delphi issues is great and there will always be non-positive things to discuss. But, people who don’t work at EMB presupposing they know best about the internals of EMB is a waste of time.

    The proper course is to demand excellence in Delphi and demand that EMB determine how to provide that excellence. *Telling* EMB how to provide that excellence is a fool’s errand. Requesting features is proper. But telling how to apply EMB resources when a person isn’t privy to internal information is of no value.

    So, again, don’t stop posting about Delphi. Post great things that the community can take advantage of.

    Thanks for listening,

    Rick

  16. David I Says:

    “The proper course is to demand excellence in Delphi and demand that EMB determine how to provide that excellence.”

    Yes, please. Demand excellence always. We will continue to do everything we can to move Delphi forward to help all of our customers.

  17. RK Says:

    Delphi users have been asking for excellence for several years now. It is quite obvious that nothing much has happened. I am still at D2007.

    Since this approach of demanding excellence has been a gross failure, the only thing left is to point on how to achieve excellence.

    The declining number of users is good gauge of EMB’s approach towards excellence.

  18. Albert Says:

    Very nice blog! :)
    Maybe I’ll sound a bit pessimistic, but I think that Delphi times are ended since a while.
    I’ve changed ship, it was a bit sad, but EMB policies are forcing more and more developers to do the same.

  19. Larry Hengen Says:

    @Nick,

    I was referring to the lack of 64 bit EXE support for OS/X which has been a 64 bit OS for some time now. I should probably re-phrase that sentence as your snippet certainly makes it sound like I am referring to Windows.

  20. Larry Hengen Says:

    @John Jacobson,

    While I have to agree that Delphi jobs are diminishing in my neck of the woods, I would like to do something to prevent Delphi’s demise. As long as new versions are being released, and people are using the product, it’s alive and kicking. There are lots of Delphi developers who are self employed, having created their own software products. You don’t have to be a world traveller to continue to use Delphi. Remote work is more prevalent than ever, and if you have a product you can ship the electrons around the globe instead.

    My concern is more for the health of the product and community because they go hand in hand. I am concerned about the direction of the product because it seems somewhat reminiscent of the .NET, and CLX efforts. It appears that EMBT may be biting off more than it can chew by trying to tackle a X plaform framework, new compilers, live bindings, and bug fixes. Currently, I can’t see why new developers would invest the time and effort to become proficient with Delphi when there are other platforms with better career potential as you mentioned.

    What we need, are more compelling reasons to use Delphi over other tools. I’m not sure what all those reasons would be, but I have a few ideas. You?

  21. Larry Hengen Says:

    @Wouter,

    hcOPF is still being developed, although at a slower rate as it’s pretty stable, and full featured now. The framework really just needs to be documented, and packaged properly for all versions of Delphi. I still plan to continue working on “my baby”. It’s been an educational journey over many years. I have even been contemplating attempting a port to ObjC.

    One of the benefits of Open Source is that there are no undocumented secrets. Even if the original author is no longer available to provide fixes, or enhancements you can easily do so. Besides that, I didn’t open source the code to see it die…

    So in answer to your question, I wouldn’t hesitate to use hcOPF on a project if it meets your needs.

  22. snorkel Says:

    People, you do realize there is Lazarus and it’s pretty darn good now?
    Stop whining about Delphi and start using Lazarus and FreePascal.

  23. Joseph Says:

    @ Mr. Hengen
    >As long as new versions are being released, and people are using the product, it’s
    >alive and kicking.

    I have to disagree with this. As long as it’s still being sold it *exists*, but that does not translate to “alive and kicking”. If a development language hasn’t had a non-self-published book released since 2005 (meaning publishers can’t make money on their sale), has no print magazines, has no mention in print magazines, has nearly vanished from college classrooms in First World nations, has seen its job base crumble (89 jobs across America listed on Dice.com, although several of those revolve along the lines of porting legacy Delphi code to C#; python achieves 3,501 hits, c# gives 8,717 and java gives 16,312), if there are a dearth of free tutorial websites, free books, free online courses revolving around the language, if there is no “killer app” such as a web framework, CMS, etc., if it is the dominant language in absolutely no field (financial, academia, etc.), if it has no major enterprise use cases it can tout (NASA, IBM, Google, etc.), and if it’s still wedded to Windows at a time when it’s now stated that only 20% of computing devices (including smart phones and tablets along with desktops) run Windows, if it’s not used in significant open source projects (where a lot of “the action” is today, such as “big data” and “the cloud”), if it’s not a first-class development tool for new platforms like Google App Engine, if bindings don’t exist for it in major products (like Crystal Reports), if most of its 3rd party component developers have either closed shop or now depend on other platforms for the majority of their sales, then it’s not “alive and kicking”. When its Google trend looks like this:

    http://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=Delphi%20tutorial

    It’s positively flat-lining. :-) Factor in that the TIOBE index is in for 2013 and we read that “On the other hand, C# (-2.57%, due to its late entrance in the mobile market) and Delphi (-0.65%) lost considerable market share” as well as seeing Delphi tumble yet four more places from where it was this time last year to the point where non-Delphi Pascal is actually above Delphi on the chart!

    COBOL still exists too (with object-oriented extensions!!!) but it’s not alive and kicking either. Virtually no new software will be written in it and it will never re-surge in popularity and it will fade away completely when its proponents do. Delphi is heading for the same fate, although Embarcadero will disappear long before the last Pascal programmer does. Pascal will take its place alongside BASIC as a language that brought the wonder of programming to a generation of children and teens, but time has moved on. Once upon a time we could point to Delphi and give a thirty-second “elevator pitch” about why Delphi was the best development tool for desktop programming (that time was circa 1995-1999). Now, though, even Embarcadero itself can’t make that case and doesn’t compare itself to its competition (and wouldn’t dream of doing it on price). Even their CEO declined in an interview with The Register:

    …but can it compete with Visual Studio? “We don’t compete with Visual Studio, Visual Studio is a .NET IDE,” chief executive Wayne Williams told me in an interview, dismissing Microsoft C++ as “not their focus.”

    Apparently they only define “focus” as other commercial (not open source, so FreePascal doesn’t count either and they don’t have to talk about how ahead they were in 64 bit and still are in cross-platform and architecture) Pascal with a GUI framework and IDE inextractably welded on. That leaves their competition as… no one! Monopoly! Woo-hoo! Oh, wait… This is like a car manufacturer saying that they don’t compete with the Toyota Prius since that’s a hybrid and their cars aren’t. You might not compete with them, but they certainly do compete with you!

    No matter how it’s talked up by David I. and others, Delphi simply isn’t relevant anymore. Your average 20-something developer today (the new generation) has never used the iconic Turbo Pascal, probably never coded in Pascal, and almost certainly has never even heard of Delphi. That’s not going to change, especially since development tools have become a commodity, available for cheap, free, and for most products, also open source. In fact, commercial/corporate-controlled languages themselves have fallen out of favor and only Microsoft and its monopoly puts it in the position of pulling that off nowadays (and even then it’s made C# a standard, pledged not to sue over patents, etc.). All of the new. cool languages today, such as python, R, ruby, etc., are springing forth from academia or open source developers (and the ones that come from academia are being turned into open source). Nowadays math and financial research code is being published in R far more often than SPSS or even Matlab, and similarly python has grown to be huge in the life sciences and other scientific areas (with its own SciPy conference) and financial/trading firms (with a conference specifically devoted to Python for data analysis springing up for the first time last year). People don’t want there to be an entry fee to people being able to share their research anymore ($2500+ for Matlab!). Embarcadero and its minimum $199 entry fee are an anachronism today.

    Embarcadero is a company; many languages today are driven by *communities* instead. Unfortunately the Delphi community does not maintain control of the direction of development, can’t fix bugs, and often can’t even see a road map without an NDA. They’re treated as a necessary evil rather than the lifeblood of the company. When I worked at the corporate office of Bed Bath & Beyond, ALL new employees needed to start work in a store. It didn’t matter if you’d been hired as a lawyer or a developer; the first thing you did was report to the nearest store where you learned the facets of their operation as you stocked shelves, worked register, etc. as you went from department to department (often at least a week, sometimes longer). This was a policy of the founder and the reasoning is that the store (and its customers) are the foundation of the business, and not a dollar is made unless it comes through the store and from the customers. No matter where you were in the company you were never to lose touch with that fact. When I returned from my time at the store, my boss explained to me that just as the store had its customers, our department (logistics) were to consider the stores our customers, IT was to consider the departments their customers, etc. The rules we learned for treating customers (”Pass the buck” - if you can’t solve a problem pass it up the chain until someone is found who can, “Never say no” - if we don’t have an item and no local store has it, go so far as to contact competitors and direct customers there, etc.) were to be applied to our own corporate “customers”. It seems Embarcadero has radically lost touch with its customer base. It doesn’t even seem to know who they are: small independent developers, often self-employed, not large enterprises (Marco Cantu recently blurted out that Delphi has a larger influence on business than python, for instance). They don’t know what their customers go through, what their customers are demanding of them, and they don’t appear to “eat their own dogfood” either. Maybe David I. and company should be sent to their customers for a few weeks/months: clients asked to develop web or Android apps, users struggling with Delphi’s documentation, an unemployed Delphi developer looking for work, etc. Maybe they’d come back with a renewed sense of purpose and dedication to the product as well as a clearer vision of direction. Just a thought.

    Anyway, I’m not so sure what Delphi users can do to keep Delphi alive rather than just existing if Embarcadero isn’t intent on doing so. When Steven Crist took over the Daily Racing Form he noticed that handicapping books had disappeared from the shelves; he formed DRF Press and contracted with classic authors to revise their masterpieces, commissioned books on various topics that tied in with DRF’s print and online products, etc. There’s no Embarcadero Press. There’s no plan being proffered to get Pascal back into academia (in fact, on this topic, David I. simply proclaimed that it’s still being taught in parts of Russia and China, as if that in some sense nullified the fact that it’s gone from most of the world). All we have for mobile is… Intraweb (meanwhile people learn Ruby specifically to use Rails). There’s simply no plan other than to keep releasing incremental updates for Delphi and alpha-level new frameworks and tweaking the EULA as much as possible to force people to buy the higher-priced versions until the market disappears entirely. Oh, and to offshore as many remaining employees as possible. Embarcadero hopes to at least make back their $24 million plus interest before they bleed it dry (given that they were taking private by an equity firm that specializes in rollups, they might meet the same fate themselves that they’re inflicting on Delphi).

  24. Larry Hengen Says:

    @Joseph,

    Thanks for the long and thorough comment! Sadly, I can’t say I disagree with your assessment of the situation.

  25. Jolyon Smith Says:

    @Lachlan - if you don’t want people telling other people what you said then you shouldn’t be saying it in the first place. The excerpt of the email that was reproduced did not contain commercial information or anything else that warranted confidentiality. There was no reason not to bring it out into the open except to spare blushes, and that was achieved by not disclosing the sender.

    But when the content is such that the issue becomes one of professional conduct and relations with your customers, it is difficult to discuss problems in these areas without citing specific examples.

    @Nick - anyone who has received a similar email from the #1 suspect in this case will recognise the style immediately. I certainly did, and I didn’t even need the “Moses” reference to confirm those suspicions.

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