Friday, 16 May 2014

Why Delphi and why now?

I've just recently finished up a great contract with a Regional Council, as their Development Team Leader for a great team of developers and business analysts. It was a fun role and it got me to thinking more and more about my pure love for developing great applications.

Those who have been following my blogs and career have seen that I have moved more and more into leadership, and management over the last 10 years. This has been a very enjoyable time, and has taken me into areas that I never thought I’d have opportunities, but I still missed the code.

There’s something special about helping teams to be their best; about making sure that management knows how productive the teams are; and helping others and seeing individuals grow within the teams. But in recent years, I've also realised the “something special” about being able to create.

I'm about to start another contract but this time as a Senior Developer. Now I know what you’re thinking already. I have been a development manager, a software group manager, and even a CIO; why would I want to take what can be perceived as a step back in my career?

I don’t see this as a step back at all. Actually, I see this as a return to what I love and what most drives me. As a team leader and a manager, I was one of many. Yes, I was able to deliver; I was able to make changes resulting in huge improvements; and I was able to assist many along their own career paths; however I was still just one of many. As a Senior Developer I became well known. I was sought after for my skills (let’s hope I still have some), and I made my mark. Through some serious navel gazing that has been ongoing for a few years now, I simply decided that being a developer was my core skill. Like all good management decisions, I decided it was time to focus on my core function.

So, I am very excited and not in the least apprehensive about taking the plunge again and returning to being a Senior Developer.

The company I am going to work the rest of this year for, uses Delphi for its core product development and during the interview stages, I was asked if they should change. Many others have suggested moving to Java or VB .NET. Some felt that C# was the way to go forward. It’s a very valid question and one they should not take lightly. I looked at both their product and their small team. I knew that my answer should be to move to .NET, but I could not think of a valid argument for that; I also knew that if it was a new product, I would be suggesting something like Ruby on Rails, but it's a stable product in daily use by tens of thousands of users who rely on the stability of the product. My eventual answer was that they should upgrade to Delphi XE6.


 Yes, I can hear the wails, the howls of indignation, and the gnashing of teeth out there but the team had used Delphi very successfully for more than 20 years (yes, the developers had been with that company for that long and longer), turning around and retraining in another language would require a good and reasonable result and damned if I could give the a single reason other than “it’s expected”.

Also, as I have said many times before, Delphi is a very productive language and changing languages may result in needing a larger team with reduced knowledge. Knowledge in the product itself may even be at risk as the current team may no longer enjoy the experience and move on.

No, Delphi was the answer no matter what others would say. With the recent release of Delphi XE6 they could seriously look at the tablet and smartphone markets as well as normal pure enhancements, all using a small, dedicated, and very experienced team.

So it’s back to being a developer for me and I couldn't be happier at the prospect.