Wednesday, 18 September 2013

The rising cost of being a Delphi developer

If you review my previous postings over the past few years, you'll notice that I'm overwhelmingly positive about Delphi, Embarcadero and the quality of the software I can release because of them.

I subscribe to Delphi Feeds, as any self respecting Delphi developer should, and I read a lot of articles where opinion varies wildly. Differences of opinion are important, no matter what the subject. From the MVPs who can only write positively about Delphi and RAD Studio, to Jolyon Smith who is probably the most vociferous voice regarding the direction of Delphi and Embarcadero (and whose opinion I almost never agree with but would fight for his right to express it).

However, for the first time recently, I agreed with one of his posts. And I wasn't alone. And other Delphi writers were also expressing the same opinion: New releases of Delphi/RAD Studio are becoming prohibitively expensive.

Now, we write enterprise level software and the cost of Delphi is not significant in terms of our turnover. However, Delphi markets itself not only to enterprise ISVs, but to anyone who wants to write software simple and effectively. It does this well, but recently I feel that it's only us ISVs who can afford to keep buying the increasingly regular Delphi releases. They don't do updates any more, they're full scale releases.

They're good releases too. Personally, I use XE3 and XE4 Enterprise for our Windows desktop software, and for the iOS mobile app that we sell to complement it. Given that I had purchased a licence for XE3 Enterprise in 2012 for £800, the cost to upgrade to XE4 was in the region of £400. This caused concern in blogs at the time: an upgrade for 50% of the cost of the last version. But for us, the layout was well worth it for the effort that had gone into the iOS framework. And I was on the beta testing panel for that, and believe me, they made a lot of fixes before release.

And now, XE5 is released, offering us Android development as well. And the quote from my local reseller? £903.24 + VAT (£1083.60). Or from Embarcadero's online store? £892 + VAT (£1061). For an upgrade! This beggars belief. As The Delphi Hater's article says:

The logic is - If you buy XE5 you get XE4 for free. If you buy XE4 and didn't get SA, you are screwed.

I did receive an email a few days later offering me 20% if purchased directly from Embarcadero Developer Direct, but that's still £850, effectively knocking off the VAT.

And why do two of those links from above quote the upgrade price in the US as $499? And some suggest that the upgrade from Delphi XE3 to XE4 only cost them $49? Is the UK/Europe being ripped off again?

Note that I've had the Enterprise versions all along, I've not had to jump up a level. I've also never (so far) taken out the support & maintenance contract, which makes me a bloody idiot. :)

Worse still, the ADUG article has this to say about the changes to Delphi for iOS for iOS7:

Statements today from an Embarcadero representative on a public mailing list indicated that the soon to be released update providing support for iOS7 will be for XE5 only, XE4 users will not receive it.

If this is true, this is an outrage. All along, we've been led to believe by Embarcadero that new styles would be made available for iOS7 when the time comes, there was never any suggestion that this would come at the cost of a new version of Delphi.

So for the first time, I find myself deliberately not purchasing the software I have staked my career on, and which I need to deliver Android apps using the codebase and experience I've built up over 15 years. Some may say that I am finally seeing what they've always been saying, to which I only partially agree. They have to make their money back somewhere, but you can't charge full price for an upgrade.

I'm interested to hear what prices other people have been quoted, both for new and upgrade licences?

Perhaps Embarcadero should let me buy a support licence, seeing as I purchased XE4 in the past few months, which would then, in theory, give me XE5?

I should re-iterate: for new users, sure it's expensive, but you're buying an IDE and 20+ years of experience, to develop on multiple platforms. I'm not unhappy with that price. But for an upgrade to cost so much, when I'm upgrading from a version I purchased earlier in the same year? No.

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