Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The death of the legend

Recently, Borland announced that it was getting out of the Software Development Tools market and was going to concentrate on Software Delivery Optimization (SDO) and Application Lifecycle Management (ALM). Last month, they ‘restructured to more closely align to this new corporate direction’. With all of my recent turmoil, it really didn’t sink in. We all new that Borland as a company has been almost dead for a decade but it still just kept going and kept its foot in the development community. Now, it’s completely out of the development pond.

I was around when Turbo C v1.0 was introduced. This move means more to us old timers than the current crop of developers because they don’t remember the pain of hours long compiles in MS C (yes there was a time when there was no ‘Visual’) and the completely useless compiler error messages (that took hours to resolve) and even when there wasn’t really a debugger (just something that thought it was). Then Borland steps in with a tool that compiled 150K lines per second and had a real-time interactive debugging tool! Oh, my! We were in heaven! At that time we didn’t realize that Borland was actually starting the explosion of growth and advancement in the development tools arena. MS had MSC and it had been pretty much static, then Borland Turbo C came along and MS ‘woke up’ and realized that software dev tools held a treasure of potential that was still unrealized. There were a few years of blindingly rapid releases that brought MSVC v6 into being. Borland had made some advancement with Turbo C ending with Turbo C++, but had somehow stalled. They bought a windowing library to allow for ‘true’ windows development, but they bought it incomplete and shipped it as complete. They were firing from the hip, living on the name Borland and spending lavishly without reinvesting into what the name Borland actually meant to developers. They ran in a dozen different directions: application server, word processors, networking, other languages, and so many others it’s hard to remember. They made decisions at the top to make sure that their menus and hot keys were ‘different from Microsoft’s’. They hired Hejlsberg and created Delphi that could have taken them back into the game, but key fumbles and a the unerring mindset of ‘being Borland is good enough’ stabbed Delphi in the stomach even as it launched. And all this time, MS was concentrating on tools, developers and marketing and was doing it very well. By getting caught off guard by Turbo C and getting burned (yes, burned) by it, they learned quickly and focused an unbelievable amount of money, time and mindshare on making sure it never happened again. MS was focused and determined. Anyone who knows MS at all knows that when MS sets their minds on it, it WILL happen.

With that in mind, now remember that MS hired Hejlsberg to create C#. They knew his talent and they knew the potential that Delphi had that was lost. Now we enjoy the outcome of this explosion and there are even more amazing things to come. But for now, we need to pay our respects to the final death of what was once a bright star in our development world.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

In the midst of the chaos

Sorry to have the blog so quiet lately, but I've flown over 7,000 miles, moved over half a ton from attic, basement and shed and shredded an unimaginable amount paper over the past few weeks. I'm preparing for relocation. Strangely the movers would not go into the attic nor under the house to get anything, so I had to move everything into the garage that they couldn't or wouldn't go get.

Before we put our house on the market, it seemed like everyone wanted it. Now, strangely, it didn’t sell immediately. Fumbles by the realtor only add to my frustration in this key piece of the puzzle. If this piece was done, the rest would be much easier to deal with.

Now I’m back in Redmond, my two sons are wreaking havoc on my wife back in the home state and there are obstacles popping up at every turn. Things that should be simple and almost automatic are taking days to work out and are so overly complicated as to make your hair fall out.

Add to the pile of problems, the project I left to come here could not find some documentation that I had left for them so to help them I’m trying to recreate it from memory. Yet another frustration, but unbelievably, this work is giving me a little bit of an outlet.

The work and team here are good, but due to an upcoming deadline this week, I’m pretty much on my own until then. So I’m fumbling around like a totally green bean. This is not comforting and actually is totally frustrating. I’m used to hitting the ground running and jumping immediately into the fire. Still, this place is unbelievable and the opportunity that I’ve come into has all the potential you could want.

I do want to say that the Microsoft back office and support crew, the relocation crew, the car shipper crew and the temporary housing crew are the best I’ve ever dealt with. I’ve worked with many different companies in and around these areas and the team that Microsoft has put together really has it together. Out of half a dozen trips, car shipments, stays and everything else, there have been only a couple of hiccups that I can recall and they have worked very hard to work those out as well.

So, having little sleep, enough frustrations to last a year and painfully slow progress I can still say it is progress none the less. Be patient, we’ll get back to the wonderful world of software development soon.