Borland Launches CodeGear to Supply Developers with Tools of the Trade

Now separate from parent company Borland, CodeGear gears up to arm developers with the tools they need to build applications for a variety of platforms.

Borland Software announced Nov. 14 the formation of CodeGear, a company with the goal of advancing the Borland integrated development environment tools. The CodeGear development team says the new company retains the technologys roots.

"This is really what we were looking for," said Michael Swindell, vice president of product strategy at CodeGear, based in Scotts Valley, Calif. "We wanted to be a separate company, an independent unit to focus on our strengths in [Windows] Vista and Eclipse, but also in PHP, Ruby and other technologies."

In the nine months since Borland announced plans to divest its tools business in February, the companys leadership decided to keep the technology right where it was born—in the familiar environs of Borlands Scotts Valley facility, where company founder Philippe Kahn charged his troops to build software for software developers.

Moreover, Swindell said now that the deal is done to make the Borland tools unit formerly known as "DevCo" into its own company, the development team can focus on executing against the road maps the organization created over the last several months.

One such road map features the companys plans for its JBuilder Java development tool family, including the "Peloton" release of the product, which will be known as JBuilder 2007.

"Peloton takes JBuilder into the Eclipse ecosystem," Swindell said. "It takes our [RAD] rapid application development expertise into the Eclipse world."

Peloton will be the first release of Borlands JBuilder tool based on the Eclipse open-source platform. Many observers have said it was partly the overall success of the Eclipse IDE that drove Borland to move to divest its tools, as the open-source platform commoditized the Java IDE space.

Meanwhile, on the Windows side, Swindell said the next version of Borlands Delphi tool set will address the Vista developers needs. And CodeGear also is working on new tools for mobile and device application development, he said.

CodeGear will be responsible for advancing the four primary formerly Borland IDE-related product lines, including Developer Studio, which consists of Delphi, C++Builder and C#Builder; JBuilder, including the upcoming Peloton version; Turbo; and Interbase.

Ben Smith, the newly appointed chief executive of CodeGear, said that perhaps the most exciting road map the company has is for its plans for tools in the AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) and dynamic languages space.

"Well be doing some things in the new development areas such as AJAX, Python, Ruby, PHP and other things," Smith said.

/zimages/1/28571.gifClick here to read more about Borlands decision to spin off its "DevCo" unit into a separate company.

Borland will also continue with its effort to make software development easier and to bring new developers into the fold with its Turbo line. "The moves weve made with Turbo, youll see similar moves with our other platforms," he said.

For its part, the "DevCo" management came up with the name CodeGear following a broad name-search effort held both inside and outside the organization.

"We had thousands of choices and the ones we liked were primarily centered around code, as code was a central theme," Swindell said. "However, one name came through, DelphiGear," he said. "We liked that but we knew we were not going to only focus on Delphi, so we chose CodeGear… The idea on gear is its like equipment. Climbers need climbing gear, photographers need photography gear and developers need development gear. We build gear for developers."

Smith said he expects the name issue to not be a major obstacle to overcome for the loyal base of Borland tools customers. "Well bridge the brands over time so people understand that CodeGear is really born out of Borland," he said.

Smith said he has been working with the Borland developer tools group since around February when the company announced its plans to divest and to acquire Segue Software.

"I looked at the situation with Borland and I viewed it like the exercises you get in kindergarten class where they show you a picture and ask what doesnt fit," Smith said. "It was clear to me that the IDE tools business and the [ALM] application lifecycle management tools did not fit and needed to be separated for both entities to be successful."

Jim Duggan, an analyst with Gartner, in Stamford, Conn., said Borland did not have a lot of choices. "The two halves of the business were incompatible and had brought down at least two previous management teams. The basic IDE business revenue has been gutted by Eclipse. Vista demands that there be another cycle of investment in the IDE tools if they are to retain any revenue."

Although Smith said he has been more of a turnaround specialist, adept at getting startups off the ground, he said his plans are to be at the helm of CodeGear for a long time. "There is a lot of innovation left in these folks," he said.

Meanwhile, Smith said he does not see either Microsoft or open source as threats to the CodeGear business model.

Of open source, he said that CodeGear "will embrace and develop on top of it. Well innovate on top of open-source projects. Like Python, for instance, I can see us taking our RAD technology to that space."

/zimages/1/28571.gifGuru Jakob Nielsen offers advice on designing applications for usability. Click here to watch the video.

Swindell said CodeGears job is to make developers more productive, and that means any kind of developer, including team developers. He said users can look for offerings like "RAD EJB [Enterprise JavaBeans] support and RAD SOA [service-oriented architecture] support" from Borland.

"Its not just about delivering a turnkey package, but about increasing developer velocity," Swindell said. And Smith said he believes developers will pay for that.

"From my perspective, I think Borland is better off retaining the developer business as a wholly owned subsidiary than selling it off to someone less invested who could have let it languish," said Melinda Ballou, an analyst with IDC, in Framingham, Mass. "The value proposition of a combined solution retains interest for the Borland developer user base, even as the distinct separation between groups enables Borland potentially to focus on the life cycle solution as agnostic."

"We mainly wanted three things," Swindell said of the development team that became CodeGear. "To be independent, to be developer-focused, and to be able to grow and expand into other languages and environments."

Echoing Swindell, Smith said the CodeGear team wanted "to focus on what would help developers," plain and simple.

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