Jim Douglas, CEO of CodeGear, says the tool maker is picking up steam. According to Douglas, the company is poised to capitalize on opportunities in the open-source and Web development spaces. Borland Software spun off its core developer tools business into the separate entity known as CodeGear in November 2006. Douglas, who took over as CEO last April, spoke with eWEEK Senior Editor Darryl K. Taft about CodeGear’s products, strategy and plans for the future.
How is CodeGear doing one year after it became an independent business unit from Borland?
Life is good. CodeGear is profitable. We have more than 3.2 million users of our products in 29 countries, which puts us among the world’s top tools providers-and the only one focused exclusively on tools. When CodeGear became a separate business entity from Borland, we had to spend a lot of time reassuring customers, partners and others that we were a viable, vibrant and profitable organization. Fortunately, the dust settled and the conversation moved from our business status back to what innovations we’re bringing to market and have planned for the future. The good news is our development team was heads-down during this time frame, bringing innovative, new technologies to market. Over the past year we launched an amazing group of new products-JBuilder 2007 and JGear plug-ins based on Eclipse, Delphi for PHP and Delphi for Win32, C++Builder 2007, and a new Ruby on Rails product called 3rdRail. And we have some pretty exciting things in store for 2008.
Is CodeGear still looking to be sold or to separate from Borland?
Borland’s strategic intent is still to divest of the development tools business. However, we have not put a timeline on pursuing and/or completing a transaction. Per our prior discussions, CodeGear has been set up as an autonomous operating organization. This structure has enabled us to exclusively focus on bringing value to developers and optimizing the operation for long-term success. The feedback from our customer base on our renewed focus has been overwhelmingly supportive and positive.
How do Borland and CodeGear approach the market differently and will anything change in that regard in 2008?
CodeGear is 100 percent focused on the developer tools market, providing individual productivity tools for a wide spectrum of developers and developer teams. Borland is 100 percent focused on [ALM] application lifecycle management, providing enterprise applications that make software delivery a more managed, efficient business process. Although we have many customers and prospects in common, we target different parts of customer organizations and thus have different go-to-market strategies. Operationally, CodeGear has a separate management team, R&D, [and] sales and marketing organization. You will see both CodeGear and Borland continue to independently fine-tune and optimize our operations. However, CodeGear will continue to operate as a fully autonomous business.
David Intersimone, your vice president of developer relations, recently suggested a new way of looking at the software development paradigm-capturing developer ‘intent’ via application factories. He called it ‘application-driven development,’ where the structure, evolution and logic behind developing an application is part of the application. And both those components and the application itself can be shared with other developers as reusable software assets. What’s your view of this?
Application factories are going to be game-changing. Think back to the advent of the original IDEs (integrated development environments), which, by the way, we invented. They enabled a profound improvement in productivity. Some years later, IDEs were deemed commodities and productivity improvement was thought to have peaked. Along came component-based design and visualization.
Once again, a meaningful improvement in productivity was enabled by new innovations. The methodology behind application factories represents the next wave. A common theme you typically observe with innovations in design that lead to major productivity improvement, whether it be software, electrical or mechanical design, is a practical leap in abstraction. This approach will enable such a practical leap in design abstraction, enabling developers to think at the application level first. In addition, this approach will help address one of the biggest issues facing companies today: efficient knowledge transfer.
Companies struggle to harness intellectual capital due to changing project teams, organizational churn, turnover, and the necessity for distributed development. By capturing logic and intent in the application, companies will be able make significant improvements [to] how they leverage knowledge across their organizations. The result will be the creation of application factories, repositories of truly reusable software assets than can effectively be leveraged across an organization. You’ll see us apply this concept of application factories in products we will be launching in 2008.
CodeGear: A Year After the Borland Spinout
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How important is Eclipse in CodeGear’s overall strategy or scheme of things?
Open source in general is an important part of our strategy. The advent of open source has been like a tsunami. It hit the market hard and keeps on building force. We are big advocates of open source, but think market expectation for the ease of adopting and leveraging open-source components has been set too high. Open-source components are developed disparately. Although you might save capex [capital expenditures] costs by highly leveraging open-source components, there is an explicit offsetting opex [operational expenditures] cost (in hard dollars and time) associated with integration. A core component of our strategy is to enable customers to effectively adopt and leverage best-in-breed open-source components.
We provide the necessary integration, coupled with proprietary technology in areas that are not well served by the commercial or open-source markets, to deliver an industrial-strength development environment. Eclipse is a very important part of that formula. The Eclipse framework provides a solid foundation for delivering this value proposition.
In 2007, CodeGear made moves into tools for dynamic languages like PHP and Rails. What are some of the other innovations we can expect from you in 2008?
We continue to be very excited about the evolution of the Ruby on Rails market and expect to see RoR begin to make inroads in the enterprise domain during 2008. Our focus in this market is to be a thought and technology leader, helping the nascent market develop quickly. On the PHP front, look for an interesting new release from CodeGear early in 2008.
Web 2.0 is a much-hyped buzzword these days. What’s your view of Web 2.0 and what is CodeGear doing there?
We tend to think of Web 2.0 more in technology terms … given that our team is a bunch of hard-core developers.
If you look at the blocking and tackling components that most people include in a Web 2.0 definition, we have incorporated these technologies into our products. For example, we have AJAX libraries available in all our key products, either homegrown, third-party, or open-source. One of the things that is of real interest to me is how we can facilitate the use of some Web 2.0 technologies to radically change the user experience in traditional desktop, client server and enterprise apps.
Up until a couple of years ago, the user experience on the Web was relatively poor. Desktop applications offered much richer user environments. Web 2.0 technologies have reversed the relative “richness” of the user experience. Web and Web-based applications offer a much richer user experience than desktop applications today. We want to offer developers of more traditional applications the ability to leverage the best of Web 2.0 to bring greater value to their customers in the form of a better user experience.
How committed is CodeGear to moving your Java tool, JBuilder, forward and updating its product line?
We’re serious as hell. JBuilder is a significant component of our growth story. JBuilder 2007, which came out last year, just won an industry award for Best Java IDE of the Year. We’ve been thrilled by the market endorsement and developers’ reception of the product line. Our intent is to continue to extend this best-in-class Java development functionality. You will see some very interesting and cool things from us with JBuilder in 2008.