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.