Cherish Development Choice
Opinion: Innovative energy will flow where developers can create with the least constraint.Olympic speed skater Chad Hedrick, one gold medal in hand and others likely to follow, reminds us that talent first seen on one platform may find its best outlet somewhere else. Raised on roller skates, Hedrick only started skating on ice three years agobut his unorthodox technique propelled him to an all-around championship and new world-record achievement just 14 months later. I thought about Hedrick while trying to decide how I feel about Borlands announcement last week that it will seek to divest its line of integrated development environments. For many years, Borlands development tools have seemed to me like great talent that was always happy to take advantage of any stage where it could shine. When DOS on the IBM-standard PC was clearly the place to be, Turbo Pascal and even Turbo Prolog shook up peoples basic ideas of how development should be done; when Windows and Java created new opportunity for developers, Borlands Delphi and JBuilder each offered developers brilliantly crafted visions of how to turn that potential into products.
I spoke last week with Borland CEO Tod Nielsen, who told me that his priority in the divestiture is "to make sure that the community is taken care ofthat the NewCo is investing in that community," he said, using the "NewCo" placeholder that Borland executives have coined to let them talk about the future home of the tools line before they know what that entity will be called. Thats a good thing to hear, but I hope that "the community" doesnt wind up being more narrowly defined by those tools new owner. Borland has taken risks, at least from time to time, with projects like the Linux-based Delphi/C++ toolkit Kylixnow a "Borland Classic" product receiving no further development or supportas well as useful if somewhat tenuous support for JBuilder on Apples OS X. I hope that NewCo will be at least as daring.