From your editor…

We are living in very exciting and challenging times, even if they are not always good.
I have accumulated enough life experience to reckon that history swings rather like
a pendulum with an average period of about thirty years.
If you consider the recent past from the end of the 19th century to the present day,
you can discern a pattern such as this:

1900s
The turn of the 19th century, leading up to the First World War, followed by the costly
failure of communism in some countries, and the emergence of super-powers.
The West’s increasing reliance on crude oil making supplier countries in the
Middle East more economically dominant.

1930s
The Thirties showing increasingly the signs of the upcoming Second World War.

1960s
The Sixties: a period of flower power, Women’s Lib, baby boomers coming to power,
increasing freedom of sexual expression.
A new politics based on burgeoning post-war economic growth.

1990s
The Nineties was a period with many strikes and life-changing events such as
the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of the cold war, and the beginning of
so-called super-capitalism.
Notable leaders such as the Iron Lady, the little lady with the handbag.
Towards the close of this period most people see that the earth is
approaching an environmental disaster, burning up its resources,
and world leaders must unite to mitigate the causes and consequences.

2020s
A new 2020s era, possibly demanding we make the biggest changes we have
ever needed to undertake: coming to terms with super-capitalism;
global warming leading to a struggle for life in many places;
the emergence of new viruses and drug-resistant germs;
a battle against pollution; increasing numbers of people struggling to escape
poverty and find employment.

I have highlighted the downsides of these periods.
You may notice three very remarkable features:

1 - we have always caused the problems ourselves
2 - we have always found a solution
3 - we have (so far) always survived

My history teacher long ago taught me that a society which is unable to recognise
or solve its main problems is headed for collapse.
Ancient Greek, ancient Roman and ancient Chinese civilisations
are primary examples. Their failures were not failures of one or two leaders,
but the failure of a whole system.

Why the history lesson?
My point is this: Embarcadero has a problem. For the second time recently
the company is acting as if it does not understand its community.
The primary goal of making a large profit has blinded them: by dismissing
all their technicians (their biggest resource!) they may make more money
in the short term, but at the cost of losing those who understand Delphi,
and are able to maintain it, and most importantly able to create an
innovative future for Delphi..

A new company (Idera) took ownership, which made us hope for a bright future…
but we discover unfortunately that while they are good at managing money,
they seem to lack elementary understanding of how to create and build
cutting-edge software tools, and also lack the skill needed to take on board user group feedback.

I learned long ago that a user group is like family.
If you don’t treat your family with kindness and respect – listening,
and letting the family help you – if your relationship disintegrates,
then you will lose your family. Then what do you have? I do not want to go on grouching.
But I want to sound a warning, so let’s try to find a way beyond this situation.
I want Delphi to be great again (where did I first hear that?) – at one time it created
a critical turning point for developers. It was a completely new way of thinking.
We seem to have lost that.

I want to stress that we All need to work on these failures, and I think we can.
If Embarcadero were to take us seriously as a user group, we could find a new élan.
Because Embarcadero is not helping presently, we need to create our own initiatives,
producing our own good ideas about what needs to be developed for Delphi.
Perhaps Embarcadero will follow that.

One idea is to create an interface that is capable of helping teenage
developers with little experience. We need such as tomorrow’s developers,
otherwise we will be working only with a niche product of limited lifespan.
For now the internet is the future. How could you not develop for that?

A downside to Embarcadero-Idera’s acquisition of further companies
is the lack of interaction between these new entities.
Developers need to know and understand these potential resources, so we can use them.
We need to help each other.

These woes have been with us for some time.
Happily there is another Pascal development environment:
Lazarus with FPC.
The time is long gone when people could legitimately ask: “Oh Lazarus, does that work?”
Lazarus development is presently so good there is almost nothing that Delphi does that
Lazarus cannot also do. In some areas, Lazarus is ahead of Delphi functionality.

Why is this?
It has a very strong user group, and the developers who use it care about it.
Lazarus matters to them.
This is how the market should work – to make both Delphi and Lazarus stronger and better.
People are free to choose between them, or to use both.

Long live Pascal.
And you!
Let’s have a lot of creative fun in the coming year.
I’m sure it will have its surprises.

Detlef Overbeek