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 The Borland C++ Bus - How Soon Will it Ride Again?
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by Paul Gustavson

I’m posting the following allegory/commentary essentially to share what I feel captures the current pulse within the Borland user community (especially for C++ users) in a manner that I hope can be beneficial to those at Borland and others.Let me preface that it is not intended as a rant or to initiate a rant.I have been and continue to be a Borland advocate, but it must go two ways.While I evangelize and applaud their wares and products in books, articles, web sites, or in presentations, I feel I need to also be balanced and reflect the concerns of the community back toward Borland.I can’t think of any forum to do this than through a website like, which reflects the typical die-hard Borland user.Thus, I want to thank Dr.Bob, for allowing me the forum to share these thoughts…. [You're more than welcome, Paul - Bob]

If you’re like me, and you’ve used Borland C++ for quite a while, or perhaps another Borland product, you’re likely standing at a cross roads – unsure exactly what lies ahead.Are we on long desert ride, just hanging out for a period at the only beat up gas station within miles? How much further until we know when we’ve reach the destination – and who will be left with us in the end? And who’s left to drive? These are the questions that I’m wondering.And as I wonder, I can’t help but look back, to see where I’ve been.I invite you to look back with me to look for answers and too see if the hope that we carry is still justified.

I've been around Borland products since '83.I was back in high school, taking a Pascal class doing single line editing and command line compiling and linking.Then someone came in with a bootleg copy of a brand new product called Turbo Pascal.I remember all of us in a class room filled with about 10 IBM PCs, huddled around one of them just being blown away witnessing the birth of the integrated development environment (IDE).It was revolutionary.Before too long everyone in our class had it in their possession and it simply transformed everything that we had been doing.We essentially left our teacher, who was relatively new to the Pascal language herself, in the dust.Quite literally, we provided her the instruction -- she was the student, we were the teacher, and Borland’s IDE was the class room!

Since then, some type of Borland product has always been in my arsenal.I’ve used it in college, my job, even became addicted to Sidekick for a while (remember that TSR?).Credit for my understanding of object oriented programming is due to Borland.It was, believe it or not, the manual for Borland’s Object Pascal - Turbo Pascal 5.5 - I believe, which I’m told was written by the one and only Charlie Calvert.It was that book and that product that took me over the edge.(Right now I seem to be having hallucinations of Turbo Vision).

It wasn’t long before my interest in object oriented programming moved me to Borland C++ and OWL.Ever since then, I’ve honestly had a disdain for MFC.Borland had proven, yet again, that they had the IDE of choice.Plus, they had many other unbelievable products, such as Paradox, and, for a period, owned the de fact world processing software in the industry – World Perfect.Microsoft was indeed jealous.

Microsoft’s answer to Borland’s IDE dominance was Visual Basic.To their credit, it was the first mainstream GUI RAD IDE on the market, even though it was for an interpreted language.(Question, does anybody still have VBRUN*.DLL in their system directory?).Well, it didn’t take long for Borland to unveil Delphi.The rest is history.Delphi has been Borland’s biggest product.(Microsoft’s response to this was to hire away Borland’s lead engineer)

Back in 1994, somehow I managed to persuade my boss that a week in Orlando with Borland (affectionately called Borlando!) was the place to be, and boy was it ever.Since then I’ve been to Denver, Philadelphia, Long Beach, Anaheim, and most recently San Jose trying to soak up as much as I can of “David I and the BorCons” His best number, by the way, was opening up in Philadelphia with the air guitar – don’t you think? Or perhaps it was k-boshing the Inprise sign in Long Beach.Worst moment, the ORB of knowledge and King Author’s Knights in Denver (although the movie was cool – Inprise was not).Which ever your favorite, BorCon has been an event that has been often imitated by other companies, but never duplicated.

Despite all their successes, there have been times, when Borland has almost been removed completely from my arsenal.The first was in 1996.Quite simply Borland C++ lost its bearings and had problems.Although OWL was a much more advanced framework than MFC, the Borland C++ IDE was old, stuffy and quite buggy.Developing apps was painful, especially Windows GUI apps.But rather than moving to Microsoft exclusively, I chose two new products for my toolbox: Delphi for GUI development, and Microsoft Visual C++ for Windows DLL development.I began developing complete application installs from both vendor’s products.The time it took to develop a GUI front-end using Delphi simply blew away everyone.But the processing code for the project I was working on required C++ -- and thus I created DLLs (used shared segmentation) that paired up with the Delphi-based front ends.It worked like a champ, but it was only short term solution.As my customer required full C++ applications.

I often wondered at that time, would Borland ever get smart enough to do to C++ as they did to Object Pascal with Delphi.As fate would have it, my wish came true! Since its release, I have been rooted in C++Builder.For me, it’s been their best product.And the ties to Delphi really only made the product better, because it gave me access to unbelievable number of VCL controls, a few of which I developed myself and used within both environments.

Just recently I have played with yet a new product, C++BuilderX, which is unlike any previous version of C++Builder.Conceptually, I love it.It’s the one tool I can theoretically use to develop applications for any platform including mobile devices.And the IDE itself runs on multiple platforms.Unfortunately, though it’s not mature.And the reality at this point is that I’m left stranded with all the cool VCL-based luggage that I’ve carried with me on this journey.If I take the CBX shuttle, I leave my luggage behind.Do I want to leave it behind? No.The other choice is .NET.Yet, I find I would still leave my VCL-based luggage behind.Java, again, I’d be forced to leave my VCL-based luggage behind.Can I go back? I could.I could stay with what I have, continue to use C++Builder 6, but I’d be riding in what feels like an old jalopy.Much like the time I wondered if Borland would put out a Delphi-like product for C++, I’m left wondering if a solution will materialize to let me carry my VCL-based luggage forward.

As I wonder, the words of Morpheous are calling from a bus as I stand at this old gas station in the middle of this desert.“This is your last chance.After this, there is no going back.You take the blue bus and the story ends.You wake up at your desk and believe in whatever they want you to believe.” I look over and see I blue bus with Microsoft on the side.Inside are Visual Basic programmers, .NET developers, and even some former Borland employees.I ask myself, “what is going on?”

Morpheous calls out again, “You take the red bus and you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.Remember that all I am offering is the truth...”.I look over and I see a red bus, but, unfortunately, I can’t make out the name written on the side of the bus.Is it Borland? I don’t know.But I sense it may be something related.There are Borlander’s on this bus too -- all seem to be drinking Java.

I then realize there actually three choices, not two.A red bus, a blue bus, or I could stay right where I’m at.I then look back and see a broken down bus, neither red nor blue.There are others with me, but we can not tell if this other bus is even being worked on.I stand there and watch.People are leaving boarding other buses, but many still remain.They are the ones hoping the old bus can be fixed.Many of them are C++ programmers, or Kylix developers.We try to ask but no one in the garage is responding other than someone claiming they saw someone wave from the inside.It then occurs to me, that unless someone communicates, more people will be shuffling to the red and blue buses.Yet I still want to believe that Borland will be there and open that garage door any moment, and we’ll hear the sound of a smooth sounding engine.The question is, “who will be left?”

Your thoughts / opinions are encouraged to be shared on the Borland C++Builder/C++BuillderX non-technical newsgroups.

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