Sharing the Wealth

By: John Kaster

Abstract: John K invites you to help in the collaboration projects for the community web site.

Sharing the Wealth

Ever since Turbo Pascal 1.0 came along and changed the way developers wrote software, Borland has had an enthusiastic and loyal following. There are many reasons developers may like using Borland tools. For me, the impact Turbo Pascal made on my software development efforts made me a fan for life.

I was writing a text editor using UCSD Pascal on an IBM PC/XT. The editor was only 1,000 lines of code or so, but every compilation took about fifteen minutes. I became very proficient at visual compiling, because I could actually find syntax errors faster than the compiler did. When I did finally have to compile and run the application, I would start the compile and go grab a drink or find a book to read.

We won't explore the amount of paper I used to print the source code so I could review it. Printing (even back in the early 1980s) was faster than compiling the source code with the UCSD Pascal compiler. Turbo Pascal broke all the rules and conventional wisdom of software development.

Turbo-charged Development

The first time I saw Turbo Pascal, all my notions about software development went flying out the window. The IDE and compilation speed made it actually practical (and easy) to write code and test it without going through a paper-based debugging process.

After the first fifteen minutes of using it, I was hooked. If you're reading this, chances are that you know I was not alone in this addiction.

I couldn't wait to share my discovery with other computer lab mates. We would all laugh in disbelief and struggle to adjust our mindset to the new development world. Soon, everyone in the computer science department at college had their own copy of Turbo Pascal. After many years and many products, Borland tools still win the hearts and minds of software developers around the world.

In 15 minutes, a community was born.

The Borland Developer Community

Developers who use Borland tools have a reputation for enthusiasm, early adoption of the latest and greatest technology, and generously contributing their time and knowledge to helping other software developers build their applications and businesses. The Borland newsgroups are some of the most active development newsgroups on the Internet, because of the high quality of information provided by the members of the newsgroups. This is often called a good signal-to-noise ratio.

This quality of information and expertise is so well recognized that you often find people coming to the Borland newsgroups to ask technical questions that relate to computing in general, not specifically Borland products.

If you read our newsgroups, you may even find questions about competing products asked (and answered!) in our newsgroups. I have seen many dialogs in our newsgroups that go like this:

Joe User: "I'm having a problem with Company X's product ..."

Jane User: "Just do (whatever) and everything should work out fine. But why did you ask this question here?"

Joe User: "Because I knew I'd get the answer here. I asked in Company X's newsgroup, but no one responded."

The Force of Imagination

Many long-time software developers still feel the excitement of creating reality from an idea. The computer industry is changing so quickly the wonder has never diminished, and new computer users are constantly catching development fever. Software developers literally build the systems that make the world work. I can't think of a more exciting industry in which to work.

Based on the heavy participation in our newsgroups, and the email messages sent directly to me, many of you feel the same way. You love the tools we produce and want to do whatever you can to help them succeed. I truly believe that our development community is the strongest development community in the world, and we are working on the web-based systems you want and need to help keep our community informed, productive, and competitive.

Keeping the Faith

Members of our community frequently ask me why Borland doesn't build more of our internal applications with our own development tools. This is a great question, and I have an answer I'm happy to give you now. All of the customized pieces of the web site you are helping us build use Borland tools in most or all of the mix for that particular system. There are many benefits to using our own tools to develop the solutions we provide to our customers.

First, we demonstrate the power of our development tools by rapidly delivering solutions with them ourselves.

Second, by implementing them in a real-world, heavy-usage internet environment, we test the scalability and reliability of the solutions we are selling customers. Those of you who have been participating in the CodeCentral client beta test know that I have encountered some problems with MIDAS, and needed to create some components that were not previously available for Delphi. You will see these issues addressed in improvements to MIDAS in its third version, and in the source code for the components written for CodeCentral that will be published in the CodeCentral knowledgebase.

Third, we have live examples available to the public of applications built with our technology.

There are additional benefits as well, but you're probably better at pointing them out than I am. After all, we're finally doing what you've been asking us to do for years.

You will finally have the opportunity to help increase the power and productivity of the entire Borland community by: contributing your insight to the CodeCentral knowledge base; using our web interface for Borland's bug tracking system; evaluating the content on the web site; participating in chats, interviews, and OpenSource projects; and contributing to the content of the web site itself. As various collaboration projects come nearer to completion, I will share the implementation and design details with you, and invite you to participate in them as well.

Please let us know what other collaboration projects you would like Borland to provide by participating in our community newsgroup. As our new web site evolves, please share your code, ideas, discoveries, insights, passion, and caveats to help us make our web site a great resource for software developers, and continue our goal of making the world a better place for software developers.

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