Delphi development is now fully outsourced

Posted on: Sun, 10/23/2016 - 17:48 By: ldsandon

Eventually, the real change Idera brough to Delphi are surfacing. From what Atanas Popov told to Blaise Pascal magazine, his roadmap update, and other news, it's clear that almost all of the old BorInCodeDero development sites have been shut down (and developers like Allen Bauer "let go"), and development has been shifted to outsourced developers - which looks to be the main business of  Mr. Popov - probably moslty in Ukraine, Bulgaria and other East Europe countries. Which incidentally also explains the spammer-like marketing campaign setup by Mr. Popov - after all spam looks to be another big business in the area.

This is the same business model followed by Idera, which explains the many products in their catalogue.

What this means for Delphi?

First, the loss of many key developers who knew the product very well from the ground up. Bringing in some known names like Nick Hodges won't help at all, especially since he always displayed a very shallow and narrow focus about the product - only what he does (and especially what is actually fashionable, whateve it is) is important for him. And this leads to the bigger issue.

I don't believe a product like Delphi can be developed using this model. What is at risk, is especially the product coherency. Don't forget this is a software used to build other software, often in projects covering many years of development. Designing and implementing a language, a compiler, llibraries and frameworks is more complex than designing and implementing an end-user software. The latter needs to focus only on specific needs. The former needs to take into account very different needs, and implement something that is powerful but still flexible enough to cover many different needs - and it also need to do it ensuring an internal coherency - in design and actual implementation - that then ensures products build upon the language, compiler and frameworks can evolve maintaining their own coherency.

We already saw how coherency went missing in the past years, with many Java-ism and C#-ism borrowed into the product without proper thinking about the Object Pascal and RTL/VCL coherency, and the push to adopt the ARC memory manager despite it being not the right choice for highly parallel applications (Delphi still has too much focus on "client" applications, even when it tries to appeal to server applications developers).

Working on code that will be reused by other developers require a great control over the code base, developer skills, and their training. You need a very focused core development team, and other teams still very well aware of the code, and capable of moving it forward maintaing the internal coherence.

Instead, Idera will spread development around to its own developers - which as far as I can see are moslty C# one - and, if it works like most outsourcing situations I experienced - the cheapest one wins, which is not usually the most skilled one (who, like Bauer, usually ends working at Google or the like, for vastly higher salaries).

There's also a big risk of an higher than usual rotation of developers, which again is a big risk for any complex development. A bit of good rotation may help a project, bringing in new skilled developers and allow experienced one to train them on the product, but outsourcing means often you get the ones which are not already allocated on other projects, and often developers leave to join better companies, when their skills are the one sought after.

This just looks another step in the agony of Delphi. It may not be declared dead already, but it looks more and more a zombie kept alive using some dark arts of the development business.