By: Lisa A. Sandford
Abstract: Vista Software's Loren Scott is reunited with the Apollo products that he helped design. What a reunion! By Lisa Sandford.
Vista Software's Loren Scott is reunited with the Apollo products that he
Developing a software product is a little like having a child. First
there is the conception -- that wonderful moment when thought and action come
together to form the essence of what is to be. Then the product is born, a baby
entering the world for the first time. The developer, like the parent, watches
with pride as his progeny undergoes a series of changes over the years,
growing and developing into newer, enhanced versions.
Loren Scott, president and CEO of newly-formed Vista
experienced those feelings of pride for a product he created, only to come to believe that it was being neglected by its adoptive parents. Scott was recently reunited with his baby and
is doing his best to make sure it's brought up right.
Scott and his partner, Vista's vice president and COO, Anthony Carrabino,
will demonstrate Apollo 5.0 at the Delphi Developers
of Dallas/Borland Conference this Saturday. It will be the first time the final
version of the latest Apollo release has been shown since Vista Software took
over the Apollo products from Luxent Development Corporation on July 1.
For Scott, the acquisition of Apollo -- a replaceable database
engine for Borland Delphi and C++Builder -- equates to bringing his child back
into his warm, loving embrace. Scott was lead developer in charge of Apollo's
design during his six years at Luxent (formed when SuccessWare merged with
Paris-based DFL Software in 1997). After the merger, Scott says, Luxent's primary focus shifted from
the database engine market to graphics and Internet-related product lines,
leaving Apollo in the lurch. "The company began to de-emphasize Delphi, and
Windows in general. Products I had helped develop were getting neglected,"
said Scott. "Apollo was my baby, so it was sad seeing it get neglected
Scott left Luxent in early 1998. He did some consulting work for a year, during which he did bug fixes for
Apollo on a part-time basis. Scott recognized, however, that Apollo deserved
more. "It's a complex product that requires full-time attention, not
part-time," he said. Luxent had scaled back its tech support for Apollo, Scott says, and that led to user frustration. "It
was being battered as a buggy piece of crap," Scott said.
Carrabino was working as product manager for San Diego-based Marotz Inc. when
he and Scott -- who had often crossed paths professionally -- decided to open
their own business to assist developers "who just want to code," said
Scott. "Our initial goal was to assist developers who have good product
ideas but don't know how to bring them to market," he said.
Shortly after forming Vista Software in April, Scott's former supervisor from
Luxent approached him about taking over Apollo. Luxent had begun to focus
entirely on developing products for e-commerce on the Internet through its e-BIZweb
division and was "unloading Apollo and everything else to the best
buyer," Scott said. An agreement was reached and Vista took Apollo over on
July 1. Just 16 days later, Vista demoed the beta release of Apollo 5.0 at
BorCon in Philadelphia.
Getting the word out that Apollo
is back in the hands of its
developer has been one of Scott's top priorities. "I was lead developer, so I have the most
intimate knowledge of it from birth. As complex as it is, as difficult as it is
to maintain its stability, it's my baby and I want to see it succeed," he
Users are now warming up to Apollo 5.0 because of Vista's attention to both
the quality of the product and, just as importantly, to customer service,
according to Scott. "So far, the response we have seen from our users has
been overwhelmingly supportive. The users were glad that we were the ones who
took the product over because we know it best," Scott said. " People
who swore they would never touch Apollo again have come back to it because of
Vista Software's commitment to (the product). We are once again able to give
Apollo and its users the attention they deserve."
Scott said that Vista Software's mission is to put as much emphasis on
customer service as there is on product. As part of that philosophy, Vista's
policy is that no customer will pay for a bug fix on any of their products. The
company has put out a free maintenance update for Apollo 4.0 that fixes bugs in
that software and, although version 5.0 has been released, Vista still maintains
its 4.6 edition with a free maintenance update. "Upgrading to the latest
version isn't the only solution to getting fixes. A user should upgrade because
he wants the enhancements and improvements of a the newer version," said
In addition to the final release of Apollo 5.0, Vista Software will also be
showing the beta release of its Apollo Client/Server at Saturday's 3D/BC. Don't
be surprised if you see Loren Scott strutting around, showing off his
babies, as any proud father would.
Thanks much for the nice story regarding Vista Software and Apollo. Two
fairly critical errors should be noted as soon as possible.
First, Vista Software has not "acquired" the products from
SuccessWare/Luxent. SuccessWare still owns them; we pay them royalties. Legally,
we cannot use the word "acquired" or "acquisition" -- I am
sorry if I did not make that clear during our interview.
Second, while I did end my term at Luxent as product manager and lead
developer of Apollo, I was not the lead developer or designer during the early
years of the product's life. Several other developers were involved before me --
Terry Orletsky, Doug Amaral, and Ceci Smith.
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