Evans Data’s 2008 IDE User Satisfaction Survey

Evans Data has released their 2008 edition of their Integrated Development Environments User Satisfaction Survey.  They surveyed actual IDE users and asked them to rate the various features and capabilities.

The IDE’s that were ranked by the survey:

  • Adobe Macromedia Studio/ Creative Suite 3
  • CodeGear Delphi
  • IBM Rational Application Developer
  • Microsoft Visual Studio
  • MyEclipse
  • NetBeans
  • Oracle JDeveloper
  • Sun Studio

They were ranked based on the ratings for the following features:

  • Debugger
  • Editor
  • Make/Build Functions
  • Documentation
  • Application Modeling Tools
  • Web Design Tools
  • Sample Applications
  • Profiler
  • Compiler Performance
  • Performance of Resulting Applications
  • Ease of Use
  • Ability to Integrate 3rd Party Tools
  • Availability of 3rd Party Tools
  • Quality of Technical Support Options
  • Size and Quality of Developer Community

Delphi was rated 6th and Visual Studio was 3rd.  The survey is worth reading because despite Delphi’s mid-pack rating, it scored at the top or near the top for the following features:

  • Debugger
  • Editor
  • Compiler Performance
  • Performance of Resulting Applications
  • Ease of Use
  • Ability to Integrate 3rd Party Tools
  • Availability of 3rd Party Tools

It’s kind of an eclectic mix of IDE’s.  Half of the IDE’s are Java development, Adobe is all about the graphics and Flash development, Sun is C and C++ for their OS.  That leaves Visual Studio and Delphi for the Windows camp.  It does identify what we already know abut the weaknesses of Delphi.  Namely the documentation is still pretty bad.  Documentation has been a moving target for Delphi since Delphi 2006 has been released.  It’s been getting better, but still has a way to go.  I hope the new owner is willing to put in the resources to get it the documentation back up to the level it was at with Delphi 7.  As I noted earlier, the Delphi talent pool is shrinking and Embarcadero needs to decide soon where they want to take Delphi.

Thanks to Roland Beenhakker for posting about this survey on his blog.

Good help (Delphi programmers) is hard to find

I was just reading a post on Bart Roozendaal’s Sevensteps blog titled “Are Delphi programmersa dying breed?”.  The title pretty much sums up Bart’s point, it’s getting harder and harder hire programmers with Delphi experience.  It took a long time for us to find our last two Delphi hires.  Here in Albany, we never had a huge talent pool to pick from, and these days you just can’t find the Delphi talent.

Whenever I posted for open positions on the Borland jobs newsgroup, the only responses were from outsourcing companies.  That was something we just didn’t want to pursue.  The domain knowledge in getting up to speed with our products can be a little steep, we prefer to keep that knowledge in house and make a long term investment in our development staff.

So where did they all go?  At my last place of employment (nearly 9 years ago), I was on a team of 7 programmers, all using Delphi.  Right after I was hired, we bought by a company that had no use for Delphi and decided that we would be the Java team (minus the tools and the training).  To make a short story long, within 6 months the team all departed to other local companies.  Of that group, I’m the only one still using Delphi.  And I’m not even full time Delphi, it’s 50% Delphi and 50% C# (and the Delphi percentage is trending down).

For the other 6, two of them went the Java route, just not at that company.  Another went back to his AS/400 and DB2 roots, the rest bounced around with VB and ASP and eventually ended up in .NET.  I’m betting that’s happening to a lot of the Delphi programmers.  A lot of the work out there is for web based applications.  For that market, the Microsoft stack is much stronger than the web based development tools that Delphi provides.

This has to be hitting the companies that still do desktop applications with Delphi pretty hard.  I still think that Delphi is a better choice for desktop applications and services than .NET.  The problem is finding people that still want to work with Delphi.  We are fully staffed now, but it too a long time to get the last two.

Is anyone taking up Delphi anymore?  if you are a fresh new programmer, Delphi probably isn’t going to be something you will take up on your own.  I don’t know how Embarcadero is going to deal with this.  They just bought a powerful development tool in Delphi, but will they get people to take it up?  Without fresh blood coming in, the Delphi talent pool is going to continue to shrink.