End of an era - Borland bows out of IDEs

· by Steve · Read in about 3 min · (489 Words)

Well, Borland have finally accepted defeat and are looking to sell off their IDE business, including Delphi, JBuilder and C++ Builder. It’s a long way from the heady early 90’s when Turbo C and Turbo Assembler were my two favorite development tools and the Borland name was synonymous with software development.

Despite it being a little sad, I’m not surprised in the least. The fact is that since those heady days, Borland have consistently gotten it wrong. Firstly their ill-advised decision to use Pascal as a basis for their flagship product - I hear nothing but good things about Delphi, but to be honest, I just dislike Pascal almost as much as Basic. It’s an overly verbose language designed for easy learning rather than coder efficiency; it used to be very popular in Universities for teaching new coders but this aspect has long been overtaken by Java anyway, leaving Pascal mostly alone in the wilderness - not a great selling point. I think this put off many coders who were savvy enough to realise that Delphi was much better than VB , many staying with less than brilliant MFC for gui work (including me) until .Net came around, and those that wanted something easy just went with the VB wagon train. Delphi was in a niche right from the start in my opinion. C++ Builder could have helped, but its until-recently very poor standards compliance, and the frankly bizarre decision to make their libraries and controls binary incompatible with other tools, once again pushed it to the fringes.

JBuilder was a joke - even before Eclipse came out, when I had to use it I was gnashing my teeth half the time at its inadequacies, and having moved from version 5 to version 7 and still seeing the same problems I was desperate for something better. Even version 1.0 of Eclipse blew it completely out of the water. Borland is making excuses about this, saying free tools have pushed them out of this market, but had they made their Java tools better to begin with they wouldn’t have had this problem - people are hardly going to pay for something that isn’t even on par with free alternatives.

So, I think Borland only have themselves to blame here. They’ve had years to redress the balance,and god knows tools like Visual C++ 6 could’ve used some better competition in the day. But they didn’t deliver, instead pouring all their investment into fringe products only a minority of people used (Kylix? A niche within a niche) instead of trying to hold on to the mainstream C/C++ developer mindshare they’d once owned; this is the price they pay for that. If they’d tossed out the Delphi distraction a couple of years ago and put the effort into making great Java products instead of shabby ones they might have had a chance without the C/C++ business, but instead they have next to nothing.