after some sleepless nights and thinking a lot about the pros and cons, I decided to leave the Delphi community. It isn’t clear to me, whether it is the Delphi community that changed so much, or whether it is me, but we don’t match anymore. I want to move on.
The long kiss goodbye …
After somewhat departing from the Delphi community about four to five years ago, when I more and more used other tools and programming languages, I had already developed some distance. This distance — I think — allowed me a more impartial view on the state of the community. It still gave me pleasure to help people with Delphi or with more general information related to Windows system programming or programming in general.
Attempts to contribute at different places in the community were sometimes successful, sometimes outright rejected and mostly futile. The Delphi community has become a fading memory of its former glory. This matches the state of Delphi itself. When I bought my first major upgrade after Delphi 4 in 2006 — BDS 2006 — it was more stable than some previous versions (I had access to Delphi 5 through 7 at work and in the university), but several times slower as well. Let’s not talk about the numerous crashes or the huge overhead you have to install even though you only want the (native) Win32 personalities. Only when switching to Vista, I learned how badly designed BDS 2006 was – but it had/has good company, so I am not going to hold it against its creators. And maybe I am just too demanding if I state the fact that I get a two year MSDN Professional subscription for a few Euros more than BDS Pro, including any Visual Studio Professional versions released during that time and any and all Windows operating system versions.
Choose your camp …
Most of those who should feel concerned about these words are unlikely to even read them. Others may think that they’re meant, although they are respectable community members who contribute and contributed a lot, one way or another. Rest assured, if this is the case, you aren’t meant. Yet another group will feel offended for no good reason and may even choose to write angry replies – and my simple response will be: “So, what have you done for the Delphi community?”. And of course there will be a vast amount of readers who just won’t get the point, consider me a crybaby, a coward or – on the other end of the spectrum – simply an arrogant bastard. To all of you: you know to which camp you belong, whether you’re fanatics or fans. So feel free to react accordingly and plaster this blog entry with angry or not so angry comments. I won’t censor anything as long as it isn’t advertisement or insults of other readers (please read the PS).
Several of my attempts to contribute to the Delphi community in joint projects have been crushed, as I mentioned before. Several times I was willing to give up, and yet I came back a while after. This time I am more serious about it than ever, but people change and maybe even the community will change to the better again. So I will not rule out that I could come back.
In vain …
For example the JEDI steering team requested, after I had complained about the state of the website and the JEDI project, that I send them a detailed list of proposals. I did. The story ends here. No replies. No negative, nor any positive replies. Just silence. Undoubtedly the JEDI project was the biggest player in the Delphi community, apart from Borland/Inprise/Borland/CodeGear. Was! Crushed by the millstones of its own bureaucracy.
Reluctant to acquire knowlegde …
Trying to get the generation Google to become self-learners again, has failed too many times to count. Several times I have attempted to bring up the topic of politeness and form – if it wasn’t ignored, it ended in turmoil or ad hominem attacks against others or myself. While you may say that much of this is known in every community — and you are partially right — this had never really been the case in the Delphi community I knew. It turns out the trolls from years ago, who were impolite or even dangerous — one even threatening me very personally — were right in one way: “developing” with Delphi has merely become tinkering for most Delphians. In part this is supported by the way Delphi organizes projects (e.g. forms and their methods), but it seems that the prolific appearance of websites with code samples (such as mine) have contributed to it as well. Instead of exercising the art of software development, many Delphians degenerated into the users of ready code samples. Instead of learning new things and widening their horizon, the quick web search was (and is) almost always guaranteed to pop up some result that can just be copied and pasted into their projects and they aren’t resisting the temptation. In consequence, many of those who started with Delphi at a similar point in their life as I have, haven’t made any progress. Others — nowadays’ beginners — haven’t even gotten the chance to make progress — but then, most of them don’t seem to be too keen either. They (quite literally) expect to get their homework done by other community members. While to some extent this is going to help those in urgent need of help with their homework (etc.), in the long run it will merely accelerate the demise of the Delphi community as a whole1.
Where is the offspring? …
For years, several Delphi projects have been struggling to get support from new contributors. Those still having the spare time to contribute, school kids and students, show no interest. Using the fruit of OSS projects: yes – contributing to keep the projects alive: nope. In that sense, the Delphi community has devolved into what is sometimes considered most precious in our capitalist society: consumers. They are consuming Delphi code. But who is creating this code?
Granted, those who struggled for years to get support, may be offended by these words, but they shouldn’t. They are a minority. A shrinking minority, to be more precise. Maybe some of the newcomers will hear the wakeup call?!
The great benefactor? Rather not …
While other tools and languages aren’t per-se tied to a company, the Delphi community is very much intertwined with and dependent on Borland/Inprise/Borland/CodeGear (and whatever names they choose in future). This dependency shows just about everywhere. Give it a try yourself. Try thinking critically about how the language developed and develops, what the plans are currently and how they may look in future. If you find an issue that you don’t like, bring it up. Oh, but rest assured that a bunch of angry Delphians is going to bash you because you dared to scratch on the dogma — the dogma of the sacred Delphi language. So maybe you better keep your mouth shut in case you don’t have the guts to stand up for your opinion. It’s on you. The future of the Delphi community lies in your hands as well, my friend!
Giving up on the Delphi community will save me a whole lot of time. Time I formerly spent patiently answering questions in forums, via instant messenger or even in one-on-one email conversations. Time that I enjoyed – just because I enjoy passing on knowledge — but also time that was missing in other projects of mine. So from now on, if I get any Delphi-related questions, I am going to point here or there or there (German, but non-native speakers have always been welcome so far).
I am sure our paths will cross again – either way,
PS: Concerning the comments: The blog is set to a mode where I have to approve the initial comment. Any additional comment from you – as long as the cookie is valid – will appear immediately. Please keep that in mind. I don’t like censorship, so you will really have to be insulting to other readers in order to get the comment rejected. If you’re a spammer, just stay away.
PPS: Was there a trigger for this decision? Certainly yes. Some will know, others will guess – but in any case I am not willing to disclose it.
PPPS: “Effortful study”
- But the underlying issue is by no means limited to Delphi and its community. [↩]