2007-03-31

Did CodeGear rush out 2 Delphi products?

I've made a few comments on other blogs about it, but I think I should take the time to better explain my point of view with a full blog entry...

Did CodeGear release Delphi 2007 for Win32 and Delphi for PHP before they were ready for release?
In my opinion: Yes.

Why do I think that, you may ask?

Well, for quite a number of reasons that I will enumerate:
  1. When I first asked some of their online retailers when they were expecting to ship Delphi for Win32, the answer was "first half of April": a few days later the product was released, 3~4 weeks before the expected date;
  2. Judging from my own and many other customer's experiences, most of their shops/retailers were not ready to start shipping/selling the product;
  3. The whole ESD (Electronic Software Download) experience was not fully tested/working when it started; the first few days of official ESD sales where a bit chaotic in some places, such as the UK, for instance;
  4. Even though much has been said about Delphi 2007's stability, the fact is that I managed to crash it quite a few times, even without trying and even after installing on a clean machine; On my account alone, 4 Automated Incident Reports were made within the 1st 4 days of use, and that was after I noticed that I could expand the crash dialog to show a send button. Since these automated reports are marked private as they contain some information on the user's computer/processes, I can't tell how many other crash reports were made since Delphi 2007's release, but I've read about other user's similar experiences on some newsgroups;
  5. A "simple" bug was known and a "tough decision" was made of releasing the product even knowing it was not fixed. (If you have D2007, you can test for yourself: open up any menu and press F1: if you're lucky enough to get an error for not finding the help context, the menus become unusable until you restart the IDE. This happens on most (all?) menu entries.)
  6. I don't have Delphi for PHP, but from comments I've been reading on the web, even attempting to deploy some simple projects will fail to include all needed files;
  7. There is a 1 day (ONE day!) trial of Delphi for PHP. Why 1 day? Well, if they gave 30 days, two things could and would happen:
    1. People would have enough time to find out that it is an unfinished product;
    2. Even if they decided to purchase, that purchase would only take effect after the 1st Quarter of 2007 had ended.
  8. Even knowing that they were having so many problems fulfilling orders and back-orders, a special event took place on the 29th of March (last business day) that was available only to registered Delphi 2007 users: this was another move to persuade some more customers to buy before the end of the 1st Quarter.
[Edit] As I suspected, there's now a 14 day trial of Delphi for PHP... No more rush to make sales in 1st Quarter, I'd guess! :)

Why did they do it?

In one word: SOX. It was clearly a financial decision: the only way for them to cash in on the pre-orders in the 1st Quarter was to actually ship the products in the first quarter. The same SOX rules that prevent them from publishing the roadmap, at the risk of only cashing in when they deliver on the roadmap, was the main drive to release the products before they were ready, so that the money could be accounted for in the 1st Quarter of 2007.
[Edit]: CodeGear has now a new CEO. That could also account for why it was so important to rush those two products: making sure Ben was credited for those sales and not Jim, and thus ensuring Ben would get the proper sized bonus...

Now, some people may argue that this is just some conspiracy theory. I hope, for CodeGear's sake, that they're right. But I can say only 3 more things to wrap this up:
  1. If this is not just a conspiracy theory, then they aren't starting with the right foot;
  2. At least they're being more honest now with the new logo: no longer has the "Where developers matter" motto;
  3. Finally, and while they do have to comply with management decisions such as these, CodeGear's employees have been very helpful in solving mine and many other developer's problems, although they would not have so many issues if they didn't rush out the products out the door to make sales in the 1st Quarter...

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Don't mistake RTM for SHIPPING. Retailers will tell you when they have physical product, and it takes time to press DVDs. If you want it on a shelf on date x, Codegear has to sign off on the product WELL before that date.

CodeGear can say it's done and ready without a single damn bit avilable for public consumpition.

And besides, my expereinces with Digital River have convinced me that I *NEVER* want to use them for anything I would sell.

Worse, they tell me that BORLAND has to physically ship the order. Does anyone remember the last time Borland was ready to do anything developers actually needed?

Code Gear's great sin here isn't moveing too fast, its not moving fast enough not to get away from Borland and its distribution channels.

Dusan said...

After careful reading of your adventure with ordering from Portugal, I wrote 'help me buy' letter to M.Swindell on 23rd March. After few long days with no answer, i posted comment in Ben Smith's blog (http://blogs.codegear.com/bensmith/archive/2007/03/19/33248.aspx#FeedBack) and Matt Levin said 'we'll get you taken care of ASAP'. Another two letters to both Levin and Swindell and received no answer so far. Not even 'we are not interested in your purchase', nothing at all.

CodeGear future does not look promising to me now, there are few too much hickups in both delivery rush and customer relationship.

D4PHP: I downloaded 1 day evaluation. If this product was published by quadram or any other 'small' developer I would be fascinated. If CodeGear publishes something I expect much more. Just looking at what libraries/helps they used or look at about screen what technologies they licensed and I am shocked. CodeGear took semi-finished product from quadram, put sticker Delphi on it and hopes that nobody will notice how unfinished this is.

Steve Trefethen said...

Hmm, your expectation of flawless ESD delivery for the first time it's ever been attempted for Delphi seems a bit high if you ask me.

Then given all the help it appears you got you still are complaining.

/shakes head/

I think with sim-ship (four languages at once), a new install and EDS delivery things are going quite well and I'm not one to be a cheerleader, that's just not my style.

I decided to comment since I felt you took a quote (which I believe came from me) out of context to support what I find to be a very weak argument at best particularly in light of the amount of attention paid to you by CodeGear.

Fernando Madruga said...

Steve, I never said I was not given enough attention, quite the contrary, but that only goes to make my point: there were simply too many rough edges on this release which happened to come out 2 weeks before finishing the 1st Quarter, just in time to make some sales plus cash in on the pre-orders.

As for the ESD, sure, since it's your first try at it, it didn't go *that* bad, at least for people in "civilized" countries where it is available or for those that like myself managed to "bug" the right people at CG to get it processed manually, but if things had been done with just a bit more time, I'm sure that the experience would have been much different.

Sure, CG is on the money making business like any other company, but I can't say it's a good start by focusing so much on getting some money in that the two products were released before time.

Even now, there is no answer on how to properly backup the ESD installation files for later use. Of course, I know this is being worked on, but it's yet one more thing to prove that the product was rushed out.

Don't get me wrong here: I know that Delphi 2007 is probably set to be one of the best Delphi ever, but after so much praise worldwide, ruining that by releasing what is more like a Release Candidate than a finished product and repeating that with Delphi for PHP, just because of counting the bucks, does not greatly improve your credibility with developers all around...

As for the quote, I don't remember if it was you or someone else at CG, but it was about that issue so it's not out of context as you say...

Steve Trefethen said...

Fernando, I'll respectfully disagree and just leave it at that.

Fernando Madruga said...

Steve: I'm *very* sure of the quote being related to that help bug and thus not "out of context" as you said...

I *do* however hope that I'm wrong about this post: the last thing I want is Delphi for Win32 disappearing as there's pretty much no alternatives in the Win32 world... Think of this post more as a "reprimand" on CodeGear's behavior, and, should CodeGear learn something from it and get better, we will all win...

Only time will tell...

Anonymous said...

Fernando,

*Thank you* so much for your very honest opinions! There seems to be way too many fanboys that overlook the obvious problems and would like us to believe that Delphi 2007 is of the same quality as Delphi 7!

This is far from the truth. Delphi 2007 will need several patches before it reaches the quality of D7, in particular to fix the problems in the VCL that makes your applications behave in strange ways in regards to the main form on the taskbar and in task manager.

On the other hand, CodeGear is well aware of the problems but if they had tried to fix them all they would never release any product.

Before CodeGear employees start arguing with bloggers and customers, they should understand that people complain because they care about the product, not because they are badmouthing it!!

Anyway, thanks Fernando!

John Wilfong said...

Fernando,

I subscribed to your blog due to your interesting, real life experience in getting and installing Delphi. I have now unsubscribed. I feel you are being way to critical on CodeGear. Come on, an AV when pressing F1 within a menu? This is no show stopper and is by no means a reason for such a critique. I see this as just glory holing on hindsight. Looking back is always 20-20 vision. Codegear accomplish a hell of lot with very few issues considering this was a world wide release. Codegear employees, Nick Hodges, Michael Swendell, Charles Odinot, Steve Axtel (to name a few) worked beyond the call of duty during nights and weekends to ensure rough edges were worked out as quickly as possible. Sure there were some people that had problems getting the product but I'm sure that if we were privy to total sum that had no problems that the whole experience would be seen as incredible.

Too early? No, I don't believe so. I'm glad to have D2007 now and am confident that the new software delivery system for bug corrections will correct the minor issues as they come up. I'm glad it wasn't held up till the 2nd quarter and more than happy to reward CodeGear with a purchase that can help them show a profitable 1st quarter (whether it was a factor in the timing of the release or not).

Anonymous said...

Anon, "people complain because they care about the product, not because they are badmouthing it!!". Yes!!!

CodeGear, ESD? Let's see it working. It should be delivering new content by now, not a glorified install. Burn a DVD in a few months when it is stable.

Peter Bartholdsson said...

ESD worked flawlessly for me and D2007 is still stable.

You've said yourself you've learnt how to get around the rough edges, from my experience you'll find those rough edges in all development tools. And the fact remains, if you were to fix all bugs you'd never ship, I believe they struck a good balance this time unlike D2005/D2006.

I guess I'm a fanboy though since it's working fine...

Fernando Madruga said...

"Peter Bartholdsson said...
I guess I'm a fanboy though since it's working fine..."

Actually, I'd rather say that you're lucky or don't use the problematic features! :)

Yes, Delphi 2007 is better in many ways than BDS2006, but when one is being told by bloggers all around that it's nothing less than perfect, when CG tells us about all that new emphasis on "where developers matter" (which, BTW, they dropped from the new logo!), then one does not expect a so-so product: one expects an awesome product!

Unfortunately, the "Automated Incident Reports" are marked as private, so it's not easy to find out how many such AIRs were reported so far in the first couple weeks of the product, or that might give a better view to those who haven't run into crashes so far of how stable it really is or is not...

Of course, I know that it's also a matter of time until they fix it. But I wouldn't be surprised if they kept doing it, that is, rushing releases of the next products right before a quarter ends so as to cash in. That rush is not, in my opinion, an healthy indicator of how stable CG is...

However, I did learn my lesson: for me and many others, CodeGear is no better than Borland was in this respect, so I'll simply skip any special discounts and wait for SP1 or SP2 before jumping in on the next versions. If nothing else, it will keep me from wasting time blogging about my bad experiences! :)

Pete Goodwin said...

It certainly sounds like they did. Which is why I didn't buy it this time around. I got my fingers burned with Delphi 2005/2006. Not this time.

Matt said...

@Dusan - I just combed through my email, and I don't have a followup email from you after I responded on Ben's blog. I apologize that this issue never got fixed.

The issue is that country-specific sites take country-specific credit cards from Digital River - it's pretty consistent with webshops for many companies - we're not the only ones by far.

I put in an email to our DR relationship contact to see if there is a workaround.

You can always contact me at matt.levin@codegear.com or matt.levin@borland.com if you have any other issues.

Anonymous said...

It is obvious that CodeGear/Borland has too many projects and too few resources, like any struggling company. I don't really blame them.

But still I'm not impressed. Delphi 2007 is pricey even if you're upgrading from 2006. And the features you get for this hefty pricetag are ridiculous 5-line patches that could be done with simple hacks... yet don't even work.

News flash... Aero Glass doesn't work. It is just plain not working on my system with my Delphi 2007 applications. Black text is rendered transparent... all my forms are only readable if against a black background. This is despite reading blogs that demonstrated a positive experience with glass.

2nd. Additionally... there's no "Theme Text" component. Why not?

3rd. Support for file/open dialogs? Um... my Delphi 2006 projects automatically took advantage of the new dialogs without me having to upgrade to 2007. I have yet to figure out what is actually different about these new dialogs. The documentation isn't helping.

4th. The taskbar preview issue. "WOW Great Feature!"... but really... but really... another 5 line patch which really should be a simple 2006 hotfix. You know... all my legacy applications properly display previews... except those made in Delphi. So they're asking for $700 for a simple compatability bug fix. If you buy it... you're a dupe!

Anonymous said...

Delphi still doesn't even natively support Icons with more than 16 colors.

This company has been failing for years in both management and marketing.

Someone needs to step into that company with a real vision.