The time has come, the Walrus said, to talk of many things.  Of shoes, and ships, and sealing-wax.  Of cabbages, and kings.  And why the sea is boiling hot, and whether pigs have wings.

And why the cheapest version of Delphi costs a new user as much as a pretty reasonable second-hand car.  Why even an upgrade costs as much as a half decent new PC (excluding monitor).  And what might be done about that.

First an Update

“But wait a bit,” the Oysters cried,
“Before we have our chat;

After a flurry of emails and a healthy exchange of views on the NZ Delphi User Group mail list about the new upgrade policy heading our way in January 2010, Malcolm Groves of Embarcadero Australia (or Asia/Pacific – I forget precisely, but suffice to say he’s a relatively “big cheese” in antipodean Embarcadero terms) has explained that this is only a potential change in upgrade policy that Embarcadero are considering, which is why there has been no formal announcement as yet.

On the face of it this should be encouraging.  But….

As of this moment, that Finnish reseller has not removed that notice from their web site.  Either they have not been told that the decision is not yet confirmed… or they have ignored a request to remove it or issue a correction (or perhaps they have but can’t be bothered or haven’t got around to it yet).

But I’m also somewhat confused… I would have thought that Embarcadero would have been in touch with me to let me know that my blog post was based on incorrect or at least slightly inaccurate information.  I know that Embarcadero staffers visit my site from time to time.  But nobody did.

Maybe I’m just not considered that significant a voice.  I suffer under no illusions on that score, but still. 🙂

The Community Edition

“It seems a shame,” the Walrus said,
“To play them such a trick,
After we’ve brought them out so far,
And made them trot so quick!”

Anyway, I digress.  I was going to talk about a “Delphi: Community Edition”.

Well, folks…. here it is.  I present for your consideration a new version of Delphi built by The Community for The community.  Here are just some of the features it contains:

  • An all new, highly efficient memory manager, contributed by Pierre La Riche (among others)
  • Significantly improved highly performant runtime library functions (contributed by the FastCode project)
  • Numerous optimisations and performance improvements, courtesy of DelphiSpeedUp from Andreas Hausladen
  • Numerous enhancements and tweaks in the IDE, also courtesy of Andreas Hausladen
  • PNG Image support courtesy of Gustavo Daud
  • DUnit unit testing framework courtesy of Juanco Anez
  • Indy internet components courtesy of Nevrona

There is of course no special “Community Edition”.  These are all things that have found their way into Embarcadero’s baby courtesy of the community.

And the thanks we (collectively) get?

Two fingers to anyone who hasn’t bought a ticket for the upgrade gravy train and the threat of having their ticket taken off them if they don’t get it endorsed in the next three months, whether the train currently standing at the platform will take them where they want or not.  Some people on Delphi 7-2005 are I’m sure waiting for 64-bit before tackling the Unicode hump necessary to get there.  Delphi 2009 or 2010 are of no use to them

I have to wonder if perhaps a lack of upgrade urgency as a result of this mis-step in priorities (Unicode over 64-bit)  is what has prompted the wielding of this stick, but no doubt if asked Embarcadero would assert there has been no such lack of upgrade urgency – I’m in no position to dispute that and I’m sure they won’t be publishing any statistics.  So I’m still left only able to wonder.

And I do wonder.

Even if Embarcadero have a sudden attack of common sense and U-turn on this policy change, something needs to be done about the imbalance between the pricing and positioning of Delphi and the fact that that pricing and positioning is increasingly in danger of putting it out of reach of the very community that have helped keep the product alive over the years.

NOTE: I’m sure the individual contributors that I mention above were suitably and adequately rewarded by BorCodaGearo in whatever terms made them happy, but the point is that they did not undertake their projects with that in mind.  They created and shared their works as an act of community, and it is that sense of community that I am concerned for.

Would You Buy A Used Car From This Man?

They wept like anything to see
Such quantities of sand:
“If this were only cleared away,”

Here in New Zealand, Delphi Professional costs NZ$1500 +sales tax of 12.5% and an upgrade costs NZ$665 + tax.  That’s nearly NZ$1700 and NZ$750 respectively. You can, in all seriousness, buy a serviceable 2nd hand car for that money here.  Sure, you won’t get a warranty at that price for a car (although you can probably expect a 6 month “Warrant Of Fitness”) , but you don’t get a waranty with Delphi either, so fair’s fair as far as that comparison is concerned.

Then again, the license for Delphi specifically denies any “Warrant of Fitness”, so maybe the 2nd hand car is the better deal after all.

As for upgrades, well NZ$750 will get you a pretty decent brand new PC upgrade (base unit, excluding monitor) which will come with a full warranty of 12 months minimum.

Just to clarify:  I shall quote prices inclusive of sales tax because the types of user I am concerned for is maintaining their licenses out of their own private income and may not be able to recoup the costs, or the sales tax.  In many cases they may be an employee where their employer has a Delphi license they use at work, but if they use that license for their own private projects then their employer has a claim on anything they produce, even if it’s “off the clock”, so they maintain their own license for those purposes.

Certainly this is a common condition of employment in the UK and I now learn is becoming more common in Australia.  New Zealand employers that I have experience of seem more enlightened (admittedly that’s a sample size of only two!) but how long that will last I cannot say, except that NZ has a tendency to follow rather than lead on such matters, so I don’t see UK contracts changing in line with NZ practices but I can see NZ businesses deciding that the UK practice is really not a bad idea.  Certainly it’s hard to reasonably argue against an employer having a legitimate commercial interest in works produced using assets that they paid for.

In any event, most people I know like to keep things clearly separate by maintaining their own licenses for their own projects, and that includes me, even though according to the letter of my employment contract I don’t need to.

For one thing, who’s to say what terms and conditions the next employer might impose?

Dr Livingstone, I Presume..?

Let’s be clear, I have no problem with the pricing of Delphi Professional per se.  Not at all.  At least, if it weren’t for one thing…. it’s the cheapest Delphi you can get!

There is no Standard Edition.

No Personal Edition.

No Express.

No Explorer.

An Architect edition was tacked on to the top end, at price slightly more than an eye-watering NZ$6,500 (you can get a very nice second-hand car for that money, complete with a warranty in most cases), but the bottom end has been left to wither.  But Architect was never a “hobbyist”s edition, so let’s not worry too much about that.

More of a concern is that the Turbo‘s appear to have been forgotten utterly.  Whatever happened to the plans that Nick Hodges had back in 2008 for a Turbo Delphi in 2009?

Perhaps the Turbo Explorer‘s weren’t the success that were hoped for – the Turbo Professional‘s of course transmogrified into the single-personality “studio”s.  As I mentioned, I think some fundamental mistakes were made in choosing the configuration for the  Explorer‘s, keeping things that had no business being in a free, hobbyist product (refactoring and modelling), and leaving out things that absolutely should have been included (the ability to install components).

They were used more as a perpetual “trial edition”, than a true, properly considered, free, “community edition”.

Community Edition: Redux

“A loaf of bread,” the Walrus said,
“Is what we chiefly need:

It’s easy to criticise, though.  So now let me get to the point and attempt to be more constructive by suggesting what I think a Delphi Community Edition should be:

  • No explicit restrictions on commercial use.  Limitations on commercial endeavours will be imposed in other ways (see below).
  • Digital watermarks in binaries produced by the product.
    • The compiler shall inject a splash screen or some-such into into applications announcing that they have been produced using the community edition.  (yes, this may be defeatable by someone sufficiently determined, but someone so determined will currently just defeat the licensing system in a Pro SKU, so really, let’s not write this one off on that basis).  With the right marketing, it might even be seen as a “badge of honour”.
    • Design-time packages produced by the Community Edition shall include a watermark and some additional “negotiation” with the host IDE and shall not allow themselves to be installed except into any IDE except the one that was used to compile them.  This will mean that components etc shall have to be distributed with source (so that they may be compiled and installed by the recipient).  This will of course require an update to the Professional Edition IDE to similarly handle the negotiation with such packages, but packages compiled with the Professional Edition will install into any edition, yes, even the Community Edition.  Just because someone didn’t pay for the IDE why should they be denied the right to pay for some additional components to install into it?  (More on components in a moment).
  • I believe such impositions will severely limit the ability for the Community Edition to product software of a truly “commercial” nature (i.e. for the developer to distribute and/or charge a large amount for their works), but crucially it doesn’t prevent them from doing so.  It simply creates a clear distinction between the truly commercial Professional product and the Community Edition.  And all without having to get expensive lawyers involved to draft a different license for the Community Edition.
  • Resist the urge to provide “professional” features for a non-professional user to evaluate.  Stick to what is needed by the target user. Hobbyists really don’t need refactorings or modelling or even DUnit (if we want it we can get it ourselves).  The same applies to any other component set included which is available separately.  I’m think of IntraWeb and Indy in particular.  But this means that database access components have to stay in the box – users could get other database access technologies elsewhere, but they cannot buy dbExpress separately so these have to stay in the Community Edition.
  • No BlackFish SQL.  I know that giving it away is perhaps the only way to build the user-base for this engine, but really.  Does anyone use this?  Surely people are just using SQL Server Express anyway?

I may have missed some things that might have to come out as a result of taking out Indy, and they should come out too (if appropriate offer them as a free download that can be installed if/when a user has installed Indy separately, for example).

Apart from that, as far as I can tell, this would leave IDE that provides complete freedom to create and share code, with some limitations – though none too crippling – on the level of professionalism or apparent commercialness (yuck) that can be projected by someone using the tool along with some limitations on the components provided to be consumed (but if someone wants to acquire/install those separately then let them).

But now here comes the clever bit……

Standard Edition: Redux

The Turbo Explorer‘s did not qualify for any preferential or upgrade pricing for someone wanting to step up to Professional.  What you had to to was first buy a Turbo Professional, but this was priced very much more cheaply than Delphi 2007 Professional (when it arrived a little later).

So cheaply in fact that you could have, if you wanted, bought a copy of Turbo Professional and then upgraded it to Delphi 2007 Professional for less than the cost of a new user license of Delphi 2007 Professional.  When this transpired the Turbo’s made less and less sense and looked more and more as if they hadn’t been thought through properly.  That they were quietly forgotten is, then perhaps not entirely puzzling.

But there is still a chance to snatch victory for the Turbo brand (or at least the concept, if the brand remains in Borland/Microfocus ownership as I suppose it may very well do).

Although welcome in very many ways, Delphi 2007 Professional created a problem:  it rendered the Turbo Professional, “single personality” editions completely and utterly redundant and superfluous in the 2007 product line-up, slipping cuckoo-like into the Turbo Professional slot in terms of feature set (single personality IDE) but at more than twice the price of the Turbo it replaced (US$899 vs US$399 iirc).

However, if a Community Edition were created along the lines outlined above then this creates an obvious “intermediate” product edition, let’s call it Standard Edition.

This would be different from the Community Edition in only one respect – the digital watermarking in the compiler products would be removed, so it would be possible to create applications without any Community Edition branding and provide functionally or time-limited trial editions of components etc in binary form.  In all other respects the two editions would be the same.  OK, maybe reinstate some of the refactorings or offer some other additional incentive as well, but not the whole shooting match and certainly not the components.

It is important to retain a clear and sensible difference between Standard and Professional editions.

So, to the all important pricing….. Standard Edition would simply cost the difference between a new user license and an upgrade license of Delphi Professional (give or tack a buck).  So at current Delphi 2010 pricing (from the US store):

Delphi Community Edition FREE

Delphi Standard Edition US$499

Delphi Professional US$899

Delphi Professional Upgrade US$399

Now pay attention…. here comes the clever bit I promised.

As I say, a user would “upgrade” from Community Edition to Standard Edition simply by buying a Standard Edition license.  They can then upgrade to Professional just by paying the difference between the Standard and Professional Edition prices (which is the same as everybody else’s Professional upgrade price).

But let us assume that Standard Edition is good enough for them and that we aren’t obsessing about how to get everyone onto Professional Edition, whether it’s right for them or not.  12 months later when Delphi  20xx+1 is released they have two choices:  Upgrade to Professional as usual (pay the difference between current Standard and Professional editions) or update to the new Standard Edition for US$199.

Bargain!

Who isn’t going to pay each and every year to stay current at that price and support the community too?

Anoint the Community Edition as  Turbo Delphi, relegating the “Community Edition” moniker to the by-line (but avoid the temptation to create an entirely separate Turbo product line – just leverage the brand name within the Delphi product line), and all would be set for a prosperous and exciting future for Delphi.

“Turbo Delphi – The new Community Edition of the worlds favourite high performance, rapid development tool for creating Microsoft Windows applications and creating and sharing code with the Delphi developer community”

Of course, the last part of the first sentence might need to be revised a little for Delphi 2011.

Partner this with a “DelphiPlex” community source code repository and, really, I don’t reckon it couldn’t get much better than that.

Footnote

I’m not sure why I feel it relevant to mention, but I do – no software was paid for in the creation of this blog post: WordPress, Google Chrome, Windows 7 RC1.  With thanks to Charles Dodgson for taking us Through The Looking Glass.

But answer came there none–
And this was scarcely odd, because
They’d eaten every one.

54 thoughts on “Delphi: Community Edition (A Proposal)

  1. Thank you for the great post!
    Yes, Delphi just need more users!
    It is impossible without such editions.

    Sometimes, the company say crack copy make us lost money.
    In fact, it is not I think. If a user is a real user, he will pay the software even if you give him a crack copy. The user who use crack copy just want to try it or use it or learn it, he is just in the peariod that he will not pay even if you provide the software with 1 USD. they are not the real user now, but they may become the real user who pay the software 1-2 years later. If one day, nobody crack Delphi, it means Delphi was really not good.

    But there are still many users that need a community edition not a crack copy, for example, many company departments, they need use it to learn Delphi, also we need employees those are good at Delphi.

    Community edition is a good idea, it make it possible for many new users to learn Delphi.
    Also we need it to be small and looks cool!

  2. I also plea for a low cost or even free “Community Edition” or “Standard Edition” or “Personal Editoion” of Delphi, just because to get more people involved with Delphi.

    Delphi IS a perfect language to participate in Open Source projects. And the community edition should have sufficient components for Windows client and database components. Connection components for FireFox, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Jet/Access and SQL Express should be enough.

    There are a lot of open source projects written in Delphi, but the price for the Professional edition isn’t very affordable for most of the potential Delphi programmers.

    The Academic Edition has a pretty low price, but the potential buyer MUST proof that he/she is allied to a school or university. At least this applies to the Netherlands. So this option falls off.

    It’s a real pity that Kylix has been abandoned. People who have paid for Kylix lost their investment, because Kylix has been abandoned since 5 years. I find this really sad. Kylix was an ideal programming environment to create platform-neutral applications. Kylix, sorry!

  3. You are so right, but I have no longer got any hope that this might happen. I would certainly buy a standard edition for my private use rather than using my employer’s license (with his permission and currently without any strings attached).

  4. I have to say I like the sound of this. I was made redundant last year from a copmany that purchased all my software. Now having found work as a contractor I find that to do the things I want to do, I am going to have to either learn a new language or buy my own copy of Delphi. The Enterprise version is the one that normally I would have to go for, but if it comes out of my pocket then maybe I will do with the pro version.
    Some rethinking on the pricing structure inline with your ideas would be good for me.

  5. While I agree with most points of this article, if a `splash screen’ (or something alike that’s visually explicit) has to be `injected’ into the produced executables, I would rather stay with Turbo Delphi.

  6. I’ve asked Honda to give me a motorbike for free, I sweared I wouldn’t use it for commercial tasks like delivering pizzas but they said no.
    I’ve asked BMW to give me a car for free, I sweared I wouldn’t use for work but they said no.
    I’ve asked Gibson and Fender to give me a guitar for free swearing I would have not give concerts but for friends, with a “courtesy of …” sign on my chest but they said no.
    I’ve asked Canon and Nikon to give me free cameras and lenses swearing I would have use them only for hobby, and they can watermark “for non commercial use” each picture I take, but they said no.

    So why a programming hobby should be different from other hobbies and be free? Why should everybody else spend money for their hobby but not Delphi programmers? There’s tons of free development tools. Don’t you like to pay for Delphi? Feel free to use FCP and Lazarus, for example.

    Is Delphi pricey? Probably. Just giving it away for free won’t improve the feature/price ratio. It would simply undermine it because too many Delphi programmers don’t need a better Delphi, they need a free Delphi – and a free Delphi will mean no Delphi at all in a release or two.

    1. @LDS : > So why a programming hobby should be different from other hobbies and be free?

      If you are the sort of person that buys cars and motorbikes as a “hobby” then you are clearly wealthy enough to not have to ask for freebies, so I don’t believe your little story. 🙂

      Your camera analogy is closer to the mark, but you ask what the difference is…. I would have thought the difference is obvious. If you want to get into digital SLR photography as a hobby, then you HAVE To buy one. Nobody is offering free or discount cameras as a way of building the customer base for their camera technology. You can buy a second hand camera more cheaply than a new one, but there again is another difference with the Delphi market…. licenses are not (easily) tradeable on the second hand market.

      You buy new or you don’t buy at all.

      But more importantly, in software development however, there ARE free alternatives. FreePascal is an obvious example when considering Delphi, but even from the “big boys”, you can get a FREE version of Visual Studio from Microsoft, and they also offer a Standard Edition which is much cheaper than the “entry level” editions of Delphi.

      So there’s your answer as to “why it should be different – because it IS different”.

  7. Another compelling reason to upgrade to D2010: If it’s true the whole shebang is being re-written in C++, then it’ll take a while before a stable version is again available.

    Or perhaps yet another compelling reason for me to stick with D7/D2007?

  8. Your idea has been discussed here with the user group from Mexico but the people at Delphi Latin America always say that Delphi can not be compared price against price with Microsoft because Delphi is a much richer product.

    So if it cannot be compared then lets put it product against product for 100dlls more for Delphi.

    Here in Mexico the tax is 15% the Delphi upgrade is 699dlls for the pro edition.

    Good to see that other Delphi users are concern about the price, here in Mexico the user group for Delphi has been going down.

    VS from M$ is the mayor programing language and if the price does not change I predict less and less use of Delphi.

    My two pesos
    Ramiro

  9. Embarcadero is focusing to the corporate market, and it is ok, its their business, but now without a FREE solution its forgeting about the insertion of new developers to its own world, and thats almost suicide. That means, for example, new projects wont be choosing Delphi, since there is no new Delphi programmers to hire, and so on.
    I think that Embarcadero can, not now may be, but the next year (with the multiplatform RAD solution in their hands), give an Standard Edition for US$199 and crack the market, they can sell A LOT of new licenses and bet in their own future. Multiplatform & Cheap together can be a shocking model.
    Embarcadero was smart at buying CodeGear for only $ 30 M, i think they will be smart enough with a new good marketing model too. If they focus in selling more licenses for the same money today, they will get more money tomorrow for sure.

  10. I agree wholeheartedly with your article. There has been lots of discussion about building the user base to ensure the future of Delphi. The only significant factors that Embarcadero has under it’s control is the pricing of the product, and the bundling of features in the different SKUs. Delphi is currently too pricey to attract new users to a smaller community with fewer job opportunities than .NET. It’s even too pricey for existing users to upgrade in many cases, hence the number of Delphi 5 & 7 hold outs.

    I too would suggest that Embarcadero look seriously at releasing a low end edition with the core features for less money. Look at Turbo Pascal and how it put Borland on the map and in the money at only $55. If users could pick and choose the features they want in the product, I think more copies would ship (more than making up for the reduced price), and it would ensure new features were ones that were truly desired.

  11. Very nice idea. Though from what I’ve heard, you’ve got the reason behind Turbo Delphi’s disappearance backwards. It isn’t that it wasn’t successful enough, it’s that it was too successful, and ate significantly into Delphi Professional sales.

    I do agree, though, that a free hobbyist edition of Delphi is desperately needed. More than cross-platform, more than 64-bit, Delphi needs a way to get into hobbyists’ hands and it needs it right now if not sooner!

  12. Nice post and I agree with your thinking on the editions of Delphi. Another area that needs attention by Embarcadero is the promotion of Delphi in Universities as this is either Java or .Net at the moment. They can do this if they have a free edition because students are not going to pay as they have lots of free options.

  13. I think good idea had been buried under heavy style of whole post.
    It is absolutely clear that Borland needs two entry level editions – one completely free, like Turbo Explorer and one with $99 cost like Turbo Professional. And yes, Turbo Explorer must not be allowed to install any commercial components from source form, only in compiled form.
    Any difference between Turbo Professional and enterprise versions must not rely in IDE or compiler, but rather in components and database support. I even agree to completely remove database support from this edition, as cheap components exists to do this work much better.
    Main problem is that until Nick and likes are in charge it’ll never happen, they are good in slow pace, but if community will grow they’ll be wanished from their positions. And they know that, so they fight hard.

    1. @Vitaliy: I disagree. I think that promoting the sharing of source is what a “Community Edition” should be all about hence I devised that potential mechanic for requiring the sharing of source for distributing components (created *using* the Community Edition – components compiled with Professional or higher editions could continue to be distributed without source, as is common for trial/evaluation editions of components for example).

      @The person who said that the splash screen would put them off (sorry, I remember the comment, but not the name of the commentor)….. that’s why a cheap(er than Pro) “Standard” Edition would exist – so that you could upgrade and eliminate that splash screen (among other things).

  14. I mean only commercial components, not ANY components. So, your source contributions idea will work. But looking at quality of few low level open source projects recently I rather agree to erase them from existence, no comments, 60% consist of IDFEF style code that is completely unreadable, variables naming convention do not exists and average name length is 3, so you need to ask author that this crap means. I don’t want to go further.
    And this “splash screen” idea really don’t work. No one, even my students want to see some splash screen after starting their program 🙂
    And, btw, educational market is already lost. I see no good books, I see talks between students mostly about NET stuff, WPF, etc. And then I asked Nick about possibility to give some type of free license for my course, so students could legally using Delphi at home. As a result I had talk with russian guy who say from start that he don’t want to help and want to know that illegal software our university uses so Codegear could file demand to erase it from all our computers 🙂 Amazing isn’t it?

    1. @Vitaliy: Student should be using an Academic Edition, not a Community Edition – the two Editions would deliberately be targetting different groups so whilst a “Splash Screen” watermakr wouldn’t work, I wouldn’t expect it to be a problem since student would be using a version which wouldn’t incorporate that mechanic.

      But I also agree that I think the academic market is a lost cause for Delphi.

      As for the quality of open source – there’s unfortunately no way to ensure that people write good quality code. 🙂

  15. I also agree and hope to see a Delphi – Community Edition. You do have to have a community, otherwise by Delphi 2015 there will be no one left to buy the Pro version.
    And then I’ll have to learn those languages with the ugly curly braces:)

  16. Good Food for thought Joylon.

    I have long advocated for renewed efforts in this area but I disagree with the implementation that you advocated.

    I don’t think they need to muddy the waters by introducing a new name in the mix (Turbo Delphi > Delphi Personal > Turbo Delphi Explorer) and I don’t see the need for a commercial license. I would drop the splash screen injection because it makes you feel like a second class citizen (and would limit it’s use in the OS arena imo) and swap that for a non-commercial license instead.

    1. @Jamie: The problem with a “Non-Commercial” license is enforcement. How do you *stop* someone from using a non-commercial license commercially? Rather than fight an impossible battle on that front I figured allowing commercial use but encouraging “serious” commercial users to upgrade by the means I suggested would work better than waving an ignorable clause in the license under their nose during installation.

      It also provides a substantive difference in the product edition justifying the price difference.

      And as I said, with the right promotion, that splash screen could become a badge of honour, and with a bit of thought probably made customisable to an extent – most people like to add a splash screen anyway, this one would simply require that it advertise the “Powered By Delphi” branding that people sometimes *like* to include anyway. And you couldn’t turn it off.

      Also bear in mind that it’s likely only to be an issue for people concerned about the “image” of any product they create with the tool, and those are most likely to be those charging for their work, and those are the people able/willing to afford to pay the (much cheaper than Professional) price for a “Standard” edition license in order to remove that branding.

      But if they are mostly creating and sharing components among community developers, nothing get’s in the way of that apart from the requirement to distribute source, which is what “community” is surely about anyway in many respects.

  17. Academic Editon is not required, early 90s, may be. Not today.
    My students make 90% of their work at home and don’t know any university in our country who provide licenses for home usage. Not only this, but I still dan’t see portable Delphi. So, I use specially made Turbo Delphi, so students could show and modify their work instantly by inserting flash drive at any computer.
    And this NET crap in latest IDE (mostly ). My god. It takes up to 80% of time to load assemblies and NET Framework first time. Yeah, Windows is smart to cache things on second start, but I see no usage for this.
    You don’t belive how debugger is implemented (via OLE linking!!!).
    So, in my dreams I want see native code IDE, most of VCL replaced by TMS parts, no database support in default installation (but downloadable on demand), portable, and, yes, with 64bits support (if anyone want to compary my hash based and memory mapped database with fastest RDBMS, it is about 100x difference) and Jibu intagrated.

  18. License enforcement is an issue that you can only really dip into in the same way as you can software piracy. A Company that openly disregards strongly advertised license terms is no different to a company that uses a pirated edition of Delphi, neither of which are likely to be stopped from doing so regardless of the current product SKU in question.

    I can see you point, a license term is easily ignorable but at least CodeGear already have a license enforcement team. In my mind you could easily make the same easily-bypassable argument about the splash screen – how long would it be until the first “Delphi Splash Screen Removing Patch Tools” appeared?

    1. @Jamie: The problem with administrating enforcement is that it creates costs. Deliberately incurring greater costs on a cheaper edition of a product doesn’t make sense to me. Incentives typically cost less than enforcement (and satisfy/appeal to the human need for “reward” gratification).

      And yes, the splash screen will get cracked, but could be made something if not welcomed then at least appreciated/tolerated. People typically LIKE adding splash screens to their app!

      Also, there are already cracks for ARCHITECT editions out there. Of course, some people using those cracked copies will continue using them, but some of those people are perhaps doing so only because they cannot afford/justify the cost of a Professional license or upgrade and would much prefer to be using a legitimate license if only they could afford it.

      For some of those people, the free Community Edition will be enough. They just want to “keep their hand in” and stay up to date with the latest language changes and share components and library source code or play around with algorithms etc (I should have added, although I thought it obvious, that the splash screen would not be imposed when running under the IDE/debugger).

      And some of those will happily pay/more easily justify $499 to get onto the $199/pa upgrade stream for a Standard Edition.

      Or perhaps I have too much faith in human nature? 🙂

  19. That’s not what I said, Jolyon. If you re-read the message, I said the change is coming, but that we were watching the feedback and it was POSSIBLE we would tweak the details. However I made the point quite clearly that the upgrade criteria would be coming in.

    1. @Malcolm: My apologies Malcolm. I didn’t mean to take more encouragement from your comments than you had intended. 😉

      I wrote the blog post at home (where I use a Delphi license that I have to pay for out of my own hard-earned) and didn’t have a copy of the mail to the DUG list since I’d picked that up at work (where my employer picks up the Delphi license tab) so was responding to the “we’re listening” sentiment that I had picked up from the email but which it seems was not intended to be present.

      Thanks for clarifying.

  20. @JS:

    “@Jamie: The problem with a “Non-Commercial” license is enforcement. How do you *stop* someone from using a non-commercial license commercially?”

    You can’t. There are torrents of D2010 available right now, where people can use the commercial licence illegally. In general, there will always be people that will use software illegally. The majority of people will continue to do what is legal. Once money is being made from Delphi, the actual cost of a licence is tiny compared to the revenue streams of even small companies.

    The primary goal of a non-commercial licence version of Delphi is to get it *everywhere*. Some fraction of the people who obtain the NC version will go on to buy a commercial version. In other words, an NC version is a marketing tool, with side-benefits such as growth in “free” components and tools (e.g. Torry), dramatically greater testing pool, and simplified distribution schemes for academia, non-profit organisations, hospices, charities, etc.

    The concept of licensing both a commercial and non-commercial version is not new. This was done with at least MySQL and the Qt Toolkit, and probably several others. I don’t recall the dual-licensing schemes ever being blamed as hurting sales for those two products. So I don’t believe the “illegal use of NC version” argument.

  21. The problem is that Visual Studio Express editions are FREE. I know we used VS at University because it was free. I have used VS at home because it is free.
    If you want to just try latest Delphi version it’s a pain, you have to sign up and your trial period was just 14 days (i think its 30 days now tho). OR you can just go http://www.microsoft.com/express/download and download the latest version of VS express without hassel and use it as long as you like.
    LDS asked why should Honda give you a free bike, but imagine if Suzuki was giving away free bikes (like M$ is giving away free VS). How long do you think Honda would be in business without changing its business model?!

  22. Agree with the broad thrust of your structure Jolyon. This affects me only from the point of view of the community disappearing underneath me. We are in the “middle” as far as usage of Delphi goes, squarely in Delphi Pro territory, so there is no direct interest in any SKU other than the Pro offering.

    However, without those better priced and better structured lower end products, the eco system withers underneath us and with it the community.

    It’s the third party support in the form of commercial componet providers that is critical. If you were to loose the likes of DevExpress and TMS, where would we be? I’m not suggesting they are any more likely to ditch their Delphi offerings than anybody else, but I see a greater emphasis on .NET and Visual Studio from such companies over the last couple of years. I don’t blame them, that is a much bigger eco system for them to grow into.

    If we leave ourselves with only the hard core / niche user base, we ultimately face extinction. The gene pool becomes too small and future generations are weak, inbred and a pale shadow of their former selves.

    Software is amongst that unique group of products where after the R&D and other fixed costs are taken care of, your ability to make money from the product is staggering. You have zerro raw material cost. No bricks and mortar, no expensive production facility, no large workforce etc… I speak as someone who works for and has a vested interest in an ISV. The Delphi guys operate on a much larger scale, and I think their outlook reflects that. I may be wrong, but I believe it applies naturally and generally to companies as they grow – the bureacracy and politcs increase and the drive and hunger is diluted. A technology company populated by intelligent, educated and inquisitive people does NOT need to be like that.

  23. Not only have the Turbo’s been “forgotten utterly”, they have been killed! On http://www.turboexplorer.com/ the free Turbo Delphi edition is now removed, you can only download trial versions. When did this happen? Is it Embarcadero’s only plan to “milk out” the existing user base cash-cow and forget about students and hobbyists?

  24. “But more importantly, in software development however, there ARE free alternatives.” Ditto. So there’s no need for Delphi to become free too for all those developers who needs a cheaper alternative.
    See the comments – even a nag screen is “too much”. I am afraid to many people just want a *free* Delphi for *professional* development – to maximize their returns without having to switch to another free tool.
    I worked as consultant for ten years in Italy, and I was always able to buy a Pro SKU each year for my personal use. I didn’t buy the Ent versions just because my customer bought them already. If I needed the Ent version I would have bought it as I did buy PCs, scanner or printers and other *software*.
    Even now that I am an employee I will pay the 400 euro + 20% VAT that an upgrade to Delphi 2010 Pro costs here. It’s an investment to improve and keep up-to-date my professional skill and I know it will be repaid – as the books I buy, or anything alike.
    The idea that only “hardware” must be bought because it cannot be esily “stolen” or “duplicated” is really crazy. As if it had no production costs. Other tools may have those costs covered in some other way (remember it when you buy Office, Exchange, SQL Server or Windows…), but Delphi? Who will pay for development costs? The few buying still Ent SKUs? How will they cost to pay for free versions?
    And I do not mean there shouldn’t be cheaper version of Delphi, or that the price of Delphi is right. I think it’s overpriced given the current feature set. But I’d prefer to see the feature set improved, instead of getting a cheaper Delphi that can’t compete with other tools.
    But especially, what business case there could be for a “free” Delphi? What impact would it have on Embarcadero revenues? Could it be sustained? Or will we be left with no Delphi at all?
    The Open Source community around Delphi is not that “productive” – yes, there are some open source projects, but see what happened to Turbo Power software – someone adapting it to his needs – but noone moved them forward. How many developers work on Indy? Or would we like to talk about the Firebird driver? Noone cared to write one, everybody wanted Borland/Embarcadero to write a driver for a free database competitor of its own. I wouldn’t bet on a “Delphi community” to bring Delphi forward – I see many, many users but very, very few going to contribute.

  25. What can I say… GREAT post. Hope Emb start to listen….
    If not, soon there won’t be noone to listen to 😉

  26. The new policy is specifically stated on the online store purchase page.

    “Upgrade eligibility: The Upgrade product is available to registered owners of 2006-2009 versions of CodeGear RAD Studio, Borland Developer Studio, Delphi, Delphi Prism, C++Builder or Turbo Professional products. For a limited time only, through Dec 31, 2009, registered users of all classic versions 1 through 2005 also qualify for upgrade pricing.”

    I like the idea of widening the user base – because without it Delphi has no future. Embarcadero are a venture capital funded entity – as such they have a slightly longer view than the next quarter focus of a publicly listed company, BUT, if the product does not make money it is goodbye Delphi.

  27. I work for a non profit organization in US. So far I was able to convince my manager to renew SA contract every year. I work with databases therefore I need the enterprise edition. Couple weeks ago, I received a renewal with a new price, around 258.00 higher than last year. I had a difficult time to push the increase through my boss. I was told that next year I have to provide a comparison between different tools that can do what I need to do.
    I prefer to stay in Delphi eco-system but it is getting harder and harder every year. I think Joylen made an excellent argument. I do not write commercial software but a lot of parsers, loaders and DB utilities. I have begun coding in Java in case I have to move on next year. I am also thinking about VS. I hope Embarcadero will be able to accommodate users who value Delphi a lot but can no longer afford SA.
    Plus, Delphi Community needs more users who are fresh and enthusiastic. Nowadays in colleges it is either Java or Microsoft Solutions.

  28. My not-for-profit organization is looking to standardize on one development product for several developers. Delphi (which only I use) would be a candidate, except it is too expensive. If a cheaper (eg < $400) version were available, we would buy *several* licenses. But at the current price we will buy *none*. Too bad for Delphi.

  29. As to the academic edition…

    The 2009 International Olympiad in Informatics has been won by Henadzi Karatkevich from Belarus. For this contest only GCC and Free Pascal compilers were allowed. Henadzi chose Free Pascal and won.

  30. LDS:

    You’re completely missing the point.

    >I worked as consultant for ten years in Italy, and I was always able to buy a Pro SKU each year for my personal use.

    Working as a consultant, yes. I’m able to afford the same thing on my professional programmer’s salary. But that’s not the target audience here. We need a Delphi for students, and I don’t mean just the ones in college. I first started playing around with programming in 3rd grade, and the only reason I waited that long is that my family didn’t have a computer before then.

    We need a free version to put into the hands of anyone and everyone who’s interested in learning Delphi. Otherwise, there won’t be any fresh blood to replace the current generation, and in 10 years we’ll all be speaking curly-brace languages.

    1. I think the other point that LDS is missing (perhaps because it hasn’t been made clearly/at all yet) is that US$399 may not be all that expensive for someone to afford out of their own pocket where that pocket is filled by a US$ salary and has US$ outgoings.

      But that US$399 is naively converted to (e.g.) NZ$. NZ$660 is an entirely different proposition for someone earning an NZ$ salary which is far lower in real terms than is earned by someone in an equivalent role in the US, and where the other costs of living in NZ$ are far, far higher.

      I’m sure that a similar inequity between the naive $:local currency conversion of the cost of a Delphi license does not fairly reflect the effective actual cost in other countries also. If Embarcadero are going to enforce territoriality of their distribution channels (i.e. require NZ customers to buy from an NZ reseller) as they currently do then they also need to reflect true value and costs more appropriately in those territories.

  31. Dear Joylon,

    Nice to see someone thinking these things through.

    I have to admit with all the Delphi trouble we have had, I have started to wonder if Lazarus is our community edition? Even if we continue buying Delphi which I am looking to do if the issues on the NZ Delphi news group sort out, I am intrigued by Lazarus’ ability to be cross compiled Linux, BSD, Mac and a few other places as well.

    Someone said Lazarus doesn’t have good help – but I’ve had no (none at all) inline help on Delphi SP3 on my main machine for years, so that doesn’t worry me!:-)

    Paul

  32. I think any effort would be to help FreePascal and Lazarus project, because they are doing a job now, and this is a good starting point to do a better tool. Also with this is possible to join to communities: FreePascal and Delphi, because two communities are small alone to do good and quickly job

  33. Why Visual Studio is winning the situation even it is not portable?
    Because they give IDE for free and developers can try very different ideas for free. If I want to draw a fractal, I will not spend even $10 for this. Why PHP and Delphi in the past was so popular? Because there was plenty of free solutions out there created by hobbyst programmers. Nobody in the company will spend even $10 for technology testing, and there is a wide range of projects that can only be created with Open Source approach.
    Some projects require work investment and Open Source / freeware projects help in this.

    Why after using Visual Studio Express I’m planning to buy a more advanced version?
    1) because I need to install 3rd party commercial components
    2) because it is affordable
    3) because there are some extra features I would like to have

    Lazarus lacks the first option. I doubt there will be any good commercial grid controls or presentation components for this environment because it’s target is Open Source / freeware oriented. And there will be few people using Open Source IDE that are ready to spend some money on extra components.

    Why Lazarus is a better option than Delphi Community Edition?
    1) because it is portable
    2) because it has more components than each Delphi Personal
    3) because it has better Unicode support (more incremental – UTF-8)

    Price of Delphi Proffesional is a somebody in “Cube” movie said “astronomical”, somebody who specified it forgot about Visual Studio Express, PHP, Lazarus, Python, Eclipse and all other free solutions already existing out there – in the real world.

  34. @Mason: students and universties won’t start using Delphi because it’s free. C# and Java will stay more appealing just because it’s where you can find easily a job and because they are “new”.
    Students learn C/C++ because it’s appealing as a powerful language to code what you can’t do in Java or .NET. Delphi does not need to become free. Delphi does need to become appealing again, and IMHO it’s a lost battle because nowadays Pascal is old and no longer the “teaching language”. A free version won’t make it more appealing and bring new customers. Why should a student use it instead of C# or C++? It will just hurt revenues.

    @Joylon: I am in Italy – not US. A country with not-so-great salaries and a very high taxation – and life is expensive here too. The last year I worked as a consultant I paid almost 54% of my income in taxes. 400 euro are far more than 400 US dollars today it’s $589 and you have to add 20% VAT – $706.

    IMHO the real driver behind all this discussion is what I explain here: http://www.sandon.it/?q=node/46

  35. @LDS – as I pointed out, comparing a software development “hobby” to any other hobby that involves spending money is fundamentally flawed.

    There are FREE alternatives in software development where there usually isn’t for those other hobbies.

    Kawasaki aren’t losing ground to Suzuki by not offering free motorcycles because NOBODY is offering free motorcycles.

    BUT, someone who loves Kawasaki motorcycles but who can’t afford a brand new one CAN buy one second hand. This, again, is something that you CANNOT (easily) do when it comes to software development tools.

    To all intents and purposes it is impossible. Borland used to allow you to do it but it was not a straightforward matter. I’ve no idea of Embarcadero would even continue to allow it at all.

    One would have to suspect that this revised upgrade policy is a good indication that that sort of generosity is a thing of the past.

    And you would have to be a hypocrit to think that that was a bad thing – after all, you seem to believe that Embarcadero are entitled to charge what they like and that we the users should pay up or shut up.

    Well, you know what they say about a fool and his money.

    I feel that it is important to continue to foster a Delphi community, outside of the relentlessly commercial world, because that commercial world actually LOOKS to the community for support and as a barometer of the health of the tools it is using.

    More and more I hear that Delphi is being rejected because “there aren’t enough people using it”. When a current, paying user says this, they don’t care whether those other people using it have paid for it or not.

    Whether Embarcadero is a commercially viable company is only one question.

    Whether the products they sell are sufficiently widely used to justify committing expenditure, resources and the future prosperity of your business is actually a quite separate question, and just as, if not more, important than the first.

    People kept buying Delphi even when Borland were clearly failing commercially, because the product still worked (software doesn’t wear out) and other people were still using it.

    But when people stop using Delphi, that’s when other people start looking around and starting to feel isolated and out on a limb.

  36. “hobby to any other hobby that involves spending money is fundamentally flawed.”

    Not at all. Alll hobbies have a price – developing is not different. There’s a lot I would like to get and can’t afford.

    “There are FREE alternatives in software development where there usually isn’t for those other hobbies”

    Exactly. Go and use them – why don’t you??? As you choose a cheaper camera when you can’t get an high-end one, you can choose a free tool if you can’t afford the professional one. Why do you want the professional camera for free?

    “Kawasaki aren’t losing ground to Suzuki”. There are other businesses where one can afford to give away from free or almost something that is another’s one main business. For example here it happened with newspapers giving books and other items away at a very low prices – it impacted bookstores business. If Suzuki would earn enough from SUVs sales to give away motorbikes for free just to hurt competitors and sell more SUVs probably it would do.

    “Embarcadero are entitled to charge what they like”. Of course they are, that’s freedom. It’s up to users to decide if the price is right or not. But just asking for a free product IMHO it’s greed – nothing more.

    “we the users should pay up or shut up”. Not at all. I often pointed out lately that Delphi is offering too little for its prices. And I believe they don’t love me at Embarcadero. My company didn’t upgrade to 2009 because I decided it was not worth the upgrade. I didn’t upgrade my personal copy twice after they sold me 2005. Yet, I do not believe I shouldn’t pay for it. I just want to get something good for my money.

    “Well, you know what they say about a fool and his money.” No, I am someone who lives selling software, and don’t understand why it’s right to be paid for our software, but never to pay someone else for his software.

    “because there aren’t enough people using it” Why many professional Delphi developers moved to C#? Because there are free VS versions? All those I know are not using the free versions. Was the appeal of .NET in its gratuitousness or in something else, say a large framework and a new, Hejlsberg-designed language?
    Delphi needs more R&D and more QA, it needs more support (six months are not enough), it needs to offer more, not less. But it has a price no community can fill, especially the Delphi one – compared to other communities how much it produced?
    Please, explain me how can Delphi survive if revenues decreases even more. My opinion about a free version? It would have a gazillion downloads and it would be the last Delphi version to be released. Then there would be lots of Delphi developers looking for another tool…

    “I feel that it is important to continue to foster a Delphi community”. Good luck. For what I saw, many are ready to get and only a few to give.

    “outside of the relentlessly commercial world”

    Delphi is a commercial tool. If you like to be outside, there’s always the GNU foundation. They have a Pascal compiler too. I am in the commercial world too, and I just need tools to build my applications. Paying suppliers is part of the game.

    “Whether Embarcadero is a commercially viable company is only one question”. It is as long as it can get enough revenuses *selling* tools, of course if it starts to give them away for free or it finds another source of revenues or it simply goes out of business. Do you sell or give your applications away for free?

  37. Jolyon, that’s exactly my point. We are listening and discussing this internally. But that doesn’t mean the changes to the upgrade criteria as announced are somehow tentative or subject to confirmation.

  38. I still think what you are doing here and on newsgroup[s] Joylon is very important and worthwhile, thank you for the effort.

    “The Pascal Community”

    Esdumbo2003 has made a really valid point.

    ” join to communities: FreePascal and Delphi, because two communities are
    small alone to do good and quickly job”

    I certainly through the responses we have seen in Delphi arena – have come to realize that we need to no longer talk or think as Delphi people, but as “The Pascal Community” and posted on that to the NZ NG recently.

    We need to explore the wealth of what it means overall to be proficient in any dialect of Pascal and extend ourselves and help each other to other Pascal resources and skill attainment.

    We need to think more expansively and inclusively.

    If the bugs fix policy in Delphi releases are going to require me to plan to buy on average 2.x versions in a three or so year period – as was suggested by one of their resellers on the NZ Delphi News Group recently – I really do not know if I could justify that level of expenditure. Then also as pointed out already we are so far above the equivalent USA price and have been so for a few years now – and that seems shameful to me to be on what is described as a six month re-calibration of exchange rate policy is I believe cheap treatment that I believe speaks volumes.

    May be no one has had the technical skills to be able to better match the USD price to the NZD price on a more regular basis?

    We need a broader perspective of what it means to have Pascal skills at our fingertips, and to take the learning curves and obtain proficiency in the available tools – not as alternatives but as adjuncts and a part of using Pascal over all.

    Then use the tool(s) for each occasion that better suit the project and the people’s needs.

    But overall if we want to not be stuck in only one environment to use our Pascal skills in, we need to support and encourage other environments, like Lazarus, and anything else worthwhile including Delphi as is appropriate.

    Or we will be stuck in a single vendor market, which is never healthy.

  39. After reading the original blog post and having a good read at the comments I can only say that we have 2 sides: Most of the commentators on one side and LDS on the other.

    I have to admit that LDS has some very good points. But every time I read them and, I even read his own blog post, I get the impression that he is only thinking in the short time. Or he is only thinking of his position in time and cannot relate to when he was the hobbyist. This will lead to the a situation where the product dies when the users die themselves of old age. Where’s the call for new blood?

    YES, admittedly, Borland/Inprise etc have botched up Delphi so deeply that any company picking up the pieces has to make up money QUICK to sustain the purchase. But this will only stick for a short while. Some kind of, more long term, plan has to be etched if one wants to remain in business. Unless Embarcadero has plan to bright burn Delphi and then jump to another product.

    If someone can give a better PRESENT/REALISTIC option than stimulating a community I’m all ears. I’m chasing after a trend or whatever you want to call it, way of getting NEW BLOOD interested in Delphi so the overall use, either maintains, or grows in numbers. I’m not chasing after a solution that COULD be implemented or that WILL be made famous in the mean time. This would hurt more than help the community.

    It’s a very well known fact that programmers stick to what they like. Most of the times these preferences are moulded in school/university/etc, so why not appeal to those guys?

    LDS has a very strong point for the time being. But his point will die if there is no one to maintain HIS own work once he’s retired. We have to make sure HIS own work will endure the time with NEW BLOOD.

    In conclusion, I don’t give a [fluffy bunny] if it’s going to be a lower entry barrier with a free edition and a cheaper standard edition, or something else that only lives in the fortune tellers mind, what I GIVE A [FLUFFY BUNNY] is that we need to maintain the stream of blood in the system or it will dry out and put Embarcadero out of business just because the companies have no Delphi programmers to hire and will jump the wagon to another well packed of programmers technology.

    My 2 cents plus VAT

  40. @Gustavo Carreno – Good points!

    Getting in new blood is going to be really difficult at this stage. There isn’t enough jobs out there to get the new graduates interested in learning Delphi.

    One possible idea would be to have competitions each year along the lines of Google Code (similar to what Coderage has but with a bounty – does Coderage have bounties? I am not sure). That way, we would at least have a forum where companies can come and hire good talent and there would be an incentive for someone to learn Delphi.

    Something that absolutely needs to be done is to reduce the cost of the Delphi license. Community Edition is good – better still would be to have a non-commercial license and a commercial license.

    @Joylon – There are a number of products which work on the dual licensing mode – where the same product (no hidden splashscreens, messages etc) can be used with two different licenses – one commercial and another non-commercial. Commercial license will allow the developer to get additional support. This is better than architecting a new edition of Delphi.

    My suggestion would be to have a single base IDE for Delphi and sell everything else as add-ons.

  41. @Philip: Yes, that’s our present situation. But don’t you agree that if we get the next “batch” of new graduates interested in Delphi, they will try to get a Delphi job first and then something else?

  42. I think there are two distinct groups of customers Embarcadero fails to address at the moment.

    One are those who want to try out a programming language but won’t pay money to do so.

    The other are those who would pay but cannot afford 800 dollars (or won’t unless they know the language).

    So my idea for the two sub-professional editions is this:

    1. A “Free Edition” without VCL for text-mode-only programs (unless the developer uses the native API directly). This gives people a way to learn the language and use it for home projects which they wouldn’t sell anyway.

    2. A “Standard Edition” with VCL but without database connectivity (unless the developer writes his own or usesa third-party connector). This edition should cost between 200 and 400 dollars.

    I know lots of people who write lots of text-mode programs for their own use. And they choose the language based on exactly three features:

    1. The language is free.

    2. The language can be used to write text-mode programs.

    3. The language is already installed or can easily be downloaded.

    Since Delphi targets Windows, it only has to compete with vbscript (on Mac OS X and Linux it has to compete with Perl, Pythin, Ruby and other pre-installed languages). A Free Edition as explained above covers all three points, for Windows. And no way would this result in lost sales.

  43. Delphi 6,7,8 etc…XE upgrades are in fact vey expensives sepcial when comparing with others like payded MS-VisualStudio versions.
    Another problem is that Embarcadero doesn’t value D5 for upgrade.
    Amaising!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Comments are closed.