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I hadn’t posted on this news before as I expected there to be a veritable deluge of opinion flooding the Delphi blog-o-sphere and didn’t see any point adding to that noise, but there has been a curious silence on the matter, so here is my two-penneth after all.

Nick Hodges is no longer employed by Embarcadero.

I am surprised at the lack of reaction from the community.  Nick was famously plucked from Team B to be elevated to the lofty position of Delphi Product Manager (I hope I got his initial job title correct) at Borland, much to the pleasure and praise of the community itself.  The silence of the community at this news is puzzling.  I can only surmise that the news is still sinking in and the ramifications and implications not yet dawning.

Since being appointed by Borland, after the sale to Embarcadero he was promoted(/moved sideways?) to become the R&D Manager for the Delphi product line.

The “Letting Go” of an R&D Manager is surely a matter for comment?

As R&D Manager surely Nick had at least some input and perhaps even responsibility for the technical direction of the product, or at least in offering an assessment of the technical feasibility of the direction of the product as determined by others in the business.

I am thinking specifically of the decision to sideline 64-bit Windows compiler development in favour of the broader, more ambitious goal of delivering a commercial version of Delphi into two additional markets famously served by competing and largely free tools.

What does the “Letting Go” of the R&D Manager tell us about this?

I don’t know.

I do know that people will speculate until Embarcadero front-up and re-assure the community as to the future direction and plans for the Delphi product.  They do not need to tell us exactly why Nick was “Let Go” – that is between themselves and him.  But aside from the disappointment and problems this might cause for Nick himself, this is unsettling news for the Delphi community.

Some explanation and reassurance is, I feel, needed.

And of course, setting aside any disagreements that Nick and I may have had over the years in the newsgroups etc, I sincerely offer my best wishes to Nick and his family for the future.  I am sure that an individual of his caliber and talents will have no difficulty in securing the very best opportunities available, and any future employer shall I am sure find him to be an invaluable asset.

Embarcadero’s loss shall be somebody’s gain.

26 thoughts on “Nick Hodges “Let Go” by Embarcadero”

  1. 1) I linked to that forum thread in my post, so no, I didn’t miss it.

    2) That’s a forum post, not a newsgroup 😉

    3) The thread is a bunch of “Good luck Nick, we’ll miss you” type posts, not really (in the main) commenting on the news itself or considering what it might mean, and of those 270 posts, approx 135 are Nick saying “Thanks for the kind words”. 🙂

    4) No matter how many posts, one thread in a forum is not the extent of reaction to this news that I would expect.

  2. Letting Nick go will negatively affect the Delphi community two ways:

    1) given the narrowness of the Delphi market, Nick is more than likely going to end up in a managerial position in something that has nothing to do with Delphi. Given that such positions tend to take a lot of effort and given that Nick is a family man, this probably means that Nick is removed from the Delphi community, for all practical purposes. That is obviously a loss.

    2) It throws fear, uncertainty and doubt into the Delphi realm, at a time when the relevance of Delphi is being increasingly tested, even more than usual. Though this has often happened in the past, and Delphi has survived, it is never good for the community when this happens. A few pointy-haired managers will shy away from the “troubled” product, inferring that the firing means something is wrong internally, or that the firing is the first of a wave intended to wind down the product.

    Delphi has been through worse personnel losses and still went on for years and years afterward. It has outlasted a slew of more popular tools. This is not the work of any one man, nor just a small clique.

  3. I’m glad there isn’t more hand wringing going on in the public forums.

  4. The lack of reaction you are refering to could be because there is nobody left to react. Let’s face the fact that we are becoming a ghost community with nothing more than missing hopes of development in a tool that has lost its charm.

  5. I think the lack of response in the *blogs* (as has been pointed out, there has been plenty of reaction in the forums) is due to people still contemplating the news and perhaps waiting to hear more about the reasons behind it.

    When someone leaves a company of their own accord it can be for any number of reasons.

    When someone is fired (let’s not beat about the bush here – Nick has said it wasn’t his decision to go) the reasons dwindle to those much more directly connected to the execution of the job that person was hired to do.

    It does not necessarily reflect on that persons individual ability, commitment to the company concerned etc, it could simply be a “growing apart” in terms of vision, direction, etc etc.

    But that is why I feel it is important that this action be explained by those that took it. i.e. Embarcadero

  6. @Jolyon: there’s a difference between being fired and being made redundant, being fired is because of an infraction or poor performance on the employee’s part, redundancy is usually because the company can’t afford to keep the employee or he simply didn’t fit into the team.

    Here in Canada at least you can’t collect unemployment benefits if you were fired, but you can if you were made redundant. I doubt that Nick was fired, but I don’t know.

    It’s pure speculation on my part and could well be completely wrong, but because Delphi is between versions right now and presumably the majority of sales are in the period immediately after a new release, revenues may probably a concern. This might have induced some belt-tightening, hence Nick’s redundancy.

    In any case I have faith that the team can produce another great version of Delphi, and hopefully Nick can still contribute to the Delphi community just as he did before he joined Borland.

  7. Having been in the community since the initial days of Delphi, I have realized that one person leaving the company behind Delphi will do little to impact the product. Nick will be missed by the community, but the development team behind Delphi is still there and working. Many people that I have grown to trust are still in many key positions.

    I personally wish I had an opening at our workplace to ofter to Nick as I believe he would be a great person to be on our team.

  8. The “blogosphere” reactions has been low probably because of a combination of factor already mentioned, from muted shock, from “same old same old” to many having moved apart.

    Shock from all this apparently coming out of the blue, hitting a key, well-appreciated public figure, after this key figure was part of an announced renewal.
    It’s also yet just another PR disaster in a long tradition of Delphi/Borland-related PR disasters, with the same old usual suspects still lurking in the shadows (a bit overdramatic, sure).
    And last but not least, many have moved away from Delphi, and are more attached to Delphi by nostalgy or huge chunks of existing code than any enthusiasm. So the blogosphere isn’t that large or that active in the first place.

  9. For my part, I stopped trying to second guess or spend any time trying to influence the management direction when they did the handbrake turn over 64bit. They last delay and change of priorities in that project left me so sceptical and cynical that there was nothning constructive left for me to say. Have they not been told the story about the boy who cried wolf once too often ?

    I added my personal goodluck to Nick in the forums, but as you say, that is entirely different to questioning the business decisions behind the move.

    Many in the community have spent endless hours commenting on the wisdom or lack thereof with regard to the current direction, priorities and ambitions of the Delphi product line. From my perspective all of this seems somewhat in vain, ultimately the proof of the pudding is in the eating and I’ve not been offered a paletable dessert since D2007.

    For the record. a 64bit D2007 would suit us just fine. Granted, unicode was a necessary step for many in the community, but beyond that all the bells and whistles are just that; window dressing, go faster stripes etc..

    Enough time spent navel gazing, on with the day…


  10. @Alan: Yes it could be a redundancy, but this is what I mean about the need to explain things…

    I’m not sure that’s the most optimistic explanation we can imagine, but we have to imagine until we *know*, and in that case people have a tendency to imagine the worst, and that is not helpful.

  11. Oh Arturo, you’re such a drama queen. I could almost hear the mournful sigh of the doves, as the tumbleweed blew through the ghost-town called Delphi.

    If only those who keep saying “delphi is dead” would stop talking about how Delphi is dead, when it is actively, daily, used by millions of people.

    Right. So go away then.


  12. What explanations from Embarcadero are you expect? Good words about Nick that mean nothing – or maybe “We are sorry”?

    All in all, the cup is broken and I see no good in continued flame. The forum threads are enough, no need for the second blog wave.

  13. I can’t imagine this being a redundancy issue. Nick was WAY to high profile to cut loose on those grounds. They had to know the reaction wouldn’t be positive. If that was the problem, they’d have talked to him and found a way for him to stay and let someone else go. In any case, he wouldn’t have met the axe on a Monday morning. And if it was the case, then management is even more clueless than I could have imagined…

    I haven’t had Delphi work in quite some time now. Last year’s renewal was a hard decision and turned into a last moment renewal. Now they’ve “let go” a man I’ve respected for years. This isn’t the same as others who have moved on for their own reasons. They axed a Spirit of Delphi award winner, a man who has advocated for the product since day one, in a Monday morning ambush. What this does is bring back bad memories as much as anything else. It brings back deep distrust of management in the community. Nothing positive results from more customer distrust, particularly when you’re dealing with Delphi users who have been defending their use of the product for years now.

  14. > “the decision to sideline 64-bit Windows compiler”

    The next generation compiler is still being worked on. The work after Delphi 2010 was finished. The work of our Delphi compiler team continues. The public roadmap lists several phases of the new compiler. Nick also wrote an EDN article explaining the work required to create the new compiler. So nothing is sidelined. Some R&D work just takes time to complete.

    > “Embarcadero front-up and re-assure the community as to the future direction and plans for the Delphi product.”

    We have been posting on the newsgroups and I have been talking to community members on email, skype and on the phone that the team is here, the development projects continue.

    If you have any questions you can email, skype or call me.

    David I.

  15. @David I: The first appearance of 64-bit Delphi on the roadmap had it appearing in the next release following Tiburon (Delphi 2009) i.e. Delphi 2010. At that stage there was no mention of cross-compilation or multi-platform ambitions for Delphi.

    Then suddenly “Project X” appeared. Delphi 2010 was released without 64-bit support and we were told that the best we could hope for was a PREVIEW release of a 64-bit compiler to accompany Delphi 2011, but that we would see Mac and Linux support *BEFORE* a full Windows 64-bit compiler was delivered.

    *That*, in my book, is side-lining – to put it mildly.

    For sure “work continued”, but to try to pretend that the work continued in the way and with the priorities that we were previously led to expect is dissembling on a Steve Jobsian scale, and does neither you nor Borcaderoprise no favours at all.

    To pretend that everything is going according to the *original* plan and that Nick’s departure has no affect what-so-ever is offensive to the intelligence of the community and to the contribution that Nick made whilst at Embarcadero.

  16. @Joylon

    Totally agree with every word you posted directly above.
    IMO you are been more than kind even calling it a Roadmap.

  17. Today I did something I already regret: I used iGoogle after not using it for a year or so… Why do I regret doing that? Well, because I *had* DelphiFeeds on it and that took me to this and other posts that I find troubling, to put it kindly… It’s been a few years since I left Delphi: it was a great tool but my last purchase of D2007 was for my own use as I don’t use that in daily work anymore, and given the “quality” of that release I can hardly justify upgrading past that. Every year I dust off the ISO, re-install it again (only to have to keep pumping up the activations and remind me of one of the dumbest features in it!), but I haven’t done a thing in Delphi for a while: my current occupation has no room for Delphi. And then I see *weird* stuff going on such as this news and other news related to post deletions elsewhere, and I can’t help but feel sad for what *was* once a great product… 🙁

    Nothing personal, but I’m removing DelphiFeeds from my feeds as it’s grieving to see this type of news… Good luck for all you remaining Delphiers: sadly you *will* need all the luck you can get…

  18. As a long term borland/delphi/bcb fans, I removed delphi/bcb from my toolbox last year because I cannot wait for 64bit support any more. We simply cannot explain to our customers that we cannot provide 64bit products because we are using a famous product that we do not see the future. The road-map, whatever they named it, is misleading and hard to trust any more.

    After reading this post I am sure I’ve mode the right decision. Now I work in eclipse/g++, and for every project I can compile and release 32/64bit versions for Windows/Mac/Linux.

  19. My company has not upgraded since D7. We still primarily use Delphi (and Kylix in a limited way) to develop our products. We would get back on the release bandwagon for 64-bit and Linux support. So far I have managed to stave off a switch to other tools, but if our biggest customer demands 64-bit Windows/Linux releases I will be unhappily be forced to go there. Here is to hoping {raising my glass} that Embarcadero can get things together in a relatively short timeframe and keep the community and revenue base together for this product line.

  20. People are let go from companies every day for a variety of reasons and I really don’t think they need to explain themselves as it is a matter between them and the employee. As much as many people dislike the thought, it is often a good thing to turn over some staff and bring in new blood to replace them. Development groups can get stale in their thinking without it. Rather than dwell on the perceived mistakes and missteps, best to look to the future in my opinion and hope that change is a good thing rather than a bad one.

    I love Delphi but the old Borland needs to get back to what they used to do best. Building tools that people need on platforms they are needed. The mobile platform is a perfect example of a platform that started small and has become huge. They are still in need of a quality IDE which is a void that once upon a time a company like the old Borland would fill.

    As for Delphi, they need to spend some time on their data tools which lag so far behind MS now it verges on pathetic.

  21. Jolyon —

    We did have our disagreements over the years, but I alway appreciated your honesty.

    Thanks for the kind words and well wishes…


  22. I just learned this news now :-), but let me be the one to say…. YES!!!!!

    Many of us decided we had no faith in Embarcadero when Nick Hodges was brought onboard. He was a vastly polarizing figure and a sycophant who would praise any move Borland made (even though we now know many were the result of milking Delhi as a cash cow and diverting resources to acquisitions).

    This is the man who told us for years that we didn’t need 64-bit compilers, and the man who swore that many, many Delphi users were using Delphi for .Net but for some reason didn’t respond to surveys, post in forums or support, download 3rd party components, or any other detectable way of measuring – in short, he simply invented this lie to justify current practices. I’ve seen him demean and belittle people who posted problems and complaints in newsgroups – not a quality you should look for in an employee. Of course, making a man your R&D manager who always insisted that Borland was correct in whatever it was doing and insulted those who thought otherwise instead was also a sign of completely inept PR. I can’t repeat stories told to me in confidence from more than one major 3rd party component developer, but he suffice to say multiple people who interacted with the company on a high level felt that rude sycophant was an apt description.

    If Embarcadero came to its senses about Nick Hodges, there might be hope for the company and perhaps I’ll look into its products again.

    Warren –
    >If only those who keep saying “delphi is dead” would stop talking about
    >how Delphi is dead, when it is actively, daily, used by millions of people.

    There is no such thing as a new Delphi developer. Pascal/Modula 2 are not being taught at universities, companies are not buying Delphi for the first time, and as for jobs… searching Dice.com turned up 107 references to Delphi across the entire United States, and many of those are not directly developing Delphi code (several are about porting legacy Delphi code to other languages). Python turns up 3730 results, and java 17,804. To put Delphi’s results in even more perspective, Fortran turns up 47 results and COBOL (!!!) has 578. Visual BASIC has 1,457 hits, and requiring the word Delphi to be in the job title narrows the results down to 27 across the nation. Your assertion that everything is just fine and wonderful in Delphi-land (which obviously Embarcadero itself doesn’t believe since they’ve released products targeting other languages) rather reminds me of Nick Hodges. 😉

    Pascal has been my sole programming language since I was a young teenager (I’m 40 now), but I’m not blind or too stubborn to admit that Delphi’s star has faded in the software world and I encounter more and more IT people nowadays who’ve never even heard of it. I’m glad my employment isn’t principally centered on programming anymore as my Delphi skills would be of no interest. I’m also about to learn Python and R and have to admit that there’s an excitement around these tools that Delphi no longer has. In fact, Python has Pascal’s readability and its vast number of modules for every conceivable task mirror the Delphi component environment in its hayday and both can be used for rapid development, although Python (and Free Pascal) are still more cross-platform than Delphi is. Borland dropped the ball on Delphi and I don’t ever see it returning to what it once was, Nick Hodges or not.

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