Monday, October 10, 2005

Missing the Point

One more post from the Entwickler Conference, where the Borland faithful gather in Germany. I sat though the technical keynotes, and they preach two things: Rapid Application Development tools and Big Design Up Front with requirements gathering tools (CaliberRM) and UML (Together). I know a lot of vendors are still beating these horses, and Borland is no different. Delphi now includes a EJB-like framework for persistence and workflow called ECO, which makes heavy use of tooling and inheritance. It doesn't use any of the interesting techniques used widely in the Java world (like dependency injection). Looking at ECO gives me Java flashbacks from 3 or 4 years ago. Anyway, the big finale of the technical keynote (which showed that they have created very good products in their categories), David I (Borland evangelist) showed a video of a 5th grader using Delphi and ECO to build a Teachers -> Classes -> Grades application with persistent and a generated front end in 9 minutes. The obvious message: you can build simple things Really Fast with our tools. Or maybe it was "Build Crappy Software Faster!"

Is that the right message to send out to the world? Is raw developer productivity for mindlessly simple applications buying us anything? The only people impressed by this type of demo-ware are non-technical managers, who have budgets. "Wow, if a 9 year old can build an application in 9 minutes, just think our developers will be building our entire corporate infrastructure! We must buy this tool!". I've posted my thoughts on RAD before. It is disappointing to see a company with so many sharp people pushing 2 aspects of software development that I think counter productive.

Not everyone in Borland feels this way. I'm corresponding with several Borlanders about how they can support agility in their Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) tools. The tide is turning. I am not naive enough to think that they should just ditch their product base because of what is still just opinion. I just hate to see what I consider poisonous messages to developers and their managers.

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