Friday, November 06, 2009

Do we need DelphiOverflow.com?

Today I was interviewed for the greatest Delphi podcast of them all and Jim asked me a question I didn’t know how to answer: “Do you think there should be Delphi equivalent of StackOverflow.com?” I’m afraid my answer was somewhere along: “Hmph. Yes. Very good question. Very good. Let’s talk about something else.”

And now I can’t get it out of my head. Should there be delphioverflow.com? What could we get out of it? I would be the first to admit that the StackOverflow model is greatest thing since Belgian waffles and that having Delphi questions and answers in such form would be very useful.

But wait – there already are Delphi questions on StackOverflow! Not that many as C# questions, but still enough that Delphi is seen on the front page and that other users can read about it and see that it is alive and well. Even more – there are enough knowledgeable Delphi programmers on SO and most questions get great answers in less than five minutes.

What other positive result could such site bring? Maybe Embarcadero people would be more eager to participate and answer questions on their own server? Maybe, but not sure. Delphi R&D team is very busy and sometimes they can’t even find time to answer newsgroup questions. And I’m pretty sure that - whatever such change would bring – newsgroups wouldn’t go away.

Let’s take a look from another perspective. What would be negative consequences? Less Delphi questions on StackOverflow. And that’s a Bad Thing because it lowers Delphi’s discoverability. We want to talk about Delphi in public places, not on some secluded server!

Now I know how to answer. No, I don’t think we need DelphiOverflow. We need more Delphi R&D people answering questions on StackOverflow.

(Your comments on the topic are very much welcome, as always!)

21 comments:

  1. Anonymous00:16

    It is good for the Stackoverflow users who do not use Delphi to see Delphi questions on Stackoverflow ..
    Any kind of exposure is good...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous00:31

    I agree, lets keep up the Delphi questions on StackOverflow. This INCLUDES voting on existing Delphi questions and answers. The more activity the better. If you see an answer to a question that is correct, vote it up. If you see a question that is worded well, vote it up. Even the semi-passive act of voting will have an impact and continue to drive Delphi topics up the hot list.

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  3. Anonymous01:15

    The fact that so many blog posts for some time deal with "No, Delphi is not dead, I told you!" and "Any kind of exposure is good" is just another sign that Delphi is in fact dying... sorry folks.

    Face it, most Delphi enthusiasts do not make a living from it, but merely advocate it...

    Also guys, in my 10+ years career as software developer, I met "software engineers" which were generally quite open and could easily hack one day C, next day python some Java in between, and even not puke while doing php.

    Then, I met "Delphi programmers", which I prefer to refer to as "Delphi users".
    They had hard time accepting anything else than delphi as a development solution, and for them, writing software mostly means "dragging components to a form".

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  4. Anonymous01:53

    > Face it, most Delphi enthusiasts do not make a living from it, but merely advocate it...

    No, but not every C#, Perl, Python, Delphi, C++, or Ruby "user" makes a living from it either. I don't. I work in information security. I use Delphi all the time to write small utilities. That's not my main job, but it makes my job easier. I'd write them in C#, but I need them to be portable. I'd write them in Perl, but I want them to have nice (and useful) GUI's. I'd write them in C++, but I want to solve my problem at hand and not think about programming problems.

    > Then, I met "Delphi programmers", which I prefer to refer to as "Delphi users".
    They had hard time accepting anything else than delphi as a development solution, and for them, writing software mostly means "dragging components to a form".

    I could say the same about C#, VB6, Java, or X developers. I know bad developers in lots of languages. Anders wrote in Delphi, is he dumb? Weak argument, and you know it.

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  5. So chatting about it after the interview still wasn't enough? ;-)

    I agree with you completely (which you already know), keep Delphi out in the open.

    As far as Anonymous's comment that developers not making a living from Delphi, our company is hiring Delphi Developers, and I interview a lot of them. May of them are working somewhere else as a Delphi developers, making a living, but they want to move up. When I go to Delphi users group meetings, most of them are full time Delphi developers, making money at that. When I go to .NET users group meetings, the only people who make money at C# are the presenters.

    Thanks for the kind words about the podcast and everyone else can hear the conversation on Monday!

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  6. Gabr: You really ought to disable the "anonymous" profile option. If trolls like Anonymous #3 are going to post stuff on here, they ought to at least have to put a name behind their words.

    I agree that there's no need for a Delphi-specific Stack Overflow, and that it would probably end up being counterproductive.

    And just for the record, Delphi is not dead, or dying. To extend the medical analogy, it's in critical but stable condition, hanging on to life, but desperately in need of an infusion of new blood. That's why so many professional Delphi developers such as myself are calling for a free edition to attract new coders.

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  7. I couldn't agree with Mason Wheeler more. We *need* a free edition Delphi. When I first attempted to learn Delphi back in 2005, there was *nothing* available to me.

    I actually *wanted* to be a new Delphi developer (and I'm a young guy), but there was no trial or free version available. I remember seeing a license key for Delphi 7 personal (in 2005) on Borland's website, but no download was available unless I could wrangle up some German pc magazine from 2 or 3 years prior (which I couldn't...and I actually did try). So I downloaded SharpDevelop and learned to use C#.

    Please make it easy for people to learn the language and use your software!

    Oh, and BTW, I wrote the Anonymous comment at 1:53 (note: I'm not the Delphi hater commenter)

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  8. Okay maybe in Europe and US not many people use Delphi, but in Asia, Delphi user base was huge (China was on of them), even in my country (Indonesia) Delphi still have large user base ranging from amateur, hobbyist and professional.

    Most IT University teach Delphi on 2nd - 4th semester, and it still have many place on government and big company (i know that since i work on vendor that works for several government projects).

    Most developers here didn't even know that Delphi was dying... since they see a lot activity here, most of them simply leaves VB6 to Delphi/C#.

    The problem was we are not that active on English language forum/community, Chinese for example they have their own community (delphifans, ccrun, etc), also Indonesian since we don't have very good connection here (the busy and always disconnect 3G or crowded DSL with low speed?).

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  9. "Should there be delphioverflow.com?" HELL YA! WHY not ?

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  10. @Mason Wheeler: Oh, but trolls can be so funny! And I think that the third Anonymous made quite a valid point. I won't say he/she is correct but the point is definitely valid.

    @Dels: As far as I know, there's quite a lot of people using Delphi in Europe.

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  11. I usually use www.DelphiFeeds.com to view the Delphi questions on StackOverflow.

    Somehow, DelphiFeeds is much better at filtering them than StackOverflow is.

    --jeroen

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  12. Anonymous11:19

    I'll leave Delphi question on Stackoverflow too. Better beeing seen by everyone, exposure is good...

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  13. +1 for Delphi on Stackoverflow.

    ...and this for yet for another reason: We don't need to break the community in smaller pieces than is now. Theree are enough Delphi forums which have their own life and because they doesn't reach the critical mass, they will (most probably) die. I think that we need to consolidate our forces.

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  14. Anonymous14:36

    Vote against Delphioverflow. Leave them for all visible on Stackoverflow.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I agree with most people here, Delphi related questions should be asked on stackoverflow (maybe have delphioverflow point to stackoverflow with a Delphi filter). I encourage most people who email me with questions to try asking on stackoverflow (unless I can answer it immediately), and most people seem to get their question answered. Perhaps embarcadero should encourage people to ask their questions there and leave the newsgroups for discussion to increase Delphi's profile.

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  16. François03:19

    Alister, I fully agree with you. If I have 5mn to "lurch", I would now go to StackOverflow, not the Delphi newsgroups. And if I have a question, I will definitively go to SO first.
    And I definitely agree that Delphi Programming questions should be on SO: bigger exposure, greater "searchability", and, most certainly, faster good answers...

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  17. @Alister

    That is a great idea. It would make Delphi brighter on the radar if all technical questions would be answered on SO.

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  18. Can't see a single reason for why there should be a delphi-only SO-site. SO has nothing to do with what language you use, so why should delphi users need a site on theire own? Just to really let everybody know that we are strange people that can't share space with other people..?

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  19. StackOverflow is where we should be. Delphi questions make up 0.75% of all questions making Delphi about the 50th most used tag, and maybe 25th among programming languages. But that's enough to keep us visible and let others know that Delphi is an active and viable alternative.

    Besides, I sure like StackOverflow a LOT better than Embarcadero's official forums: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/369903/where-are-all-the-delphi-developers/370026#370026

    And often I have questions that are not Delphi-specific and can be and often are answered by non-Delphi programmers. That is so helpful.

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  20. And they say that delphi is dead:D

    http://www.components4developers.com

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