01 October 2015

DelphiDabbler.com - Live Or Die?

If you're one of the regular visitors to DelphiDabbler.com then you may have noticed that it's not been updated much over the last year or so. Same goes for this blog, my applications, the code library and the code snippets database.

What it boils down to is this: the time has come to decide whether to continue with the site or not.
 And I need your help to decide.

There are a couple of reasons why I've got to this point. The first is that my interest in music, playing the guitar and recording has resurfaced and it's taking up some of my spare time. The second, and most important, reason is that I'm getting disillusioned with Delphi (the compiler, not the language). I just can't, or won't, keep up with the cost of upgrades.

The problem is that I'm just a hobbyist developer and the cost of staying up to date is getting prohibitive. I feel I'm getting more reward by spending my cash on musical instruments and studio kit than on a constant stream of compiler updates.

I'm not having a pop at Embarcadero here. Amateurs are probably not part of their target group of customers. And if that's true, I can offer no argument as to why we should be! I'm simply commenting that the cost of entry is too rich for me right now.

You'd be staggered to learn quite how many decent quality instruments and bits of studio kit I've paid for just by missing out on a couple of Delphi Pro updates and not upgrading to the Android support module!


Here's where my Delphi XE4 to XE6 update cash went: a stunning Tanglewood koa wood tenor ukulele and an excellent Yamaha bass. There are many more examples like this!

A consequence of all this is that if I'm cutting back on my Delphi development, I need to look at whether the DelphiDabbler website is worth continuing with. After all it's a lot of effort and costs me money to keep going. Donations have been drying up lately, meaning that more of the financial burden falls on me. (Whether the lack of donations is a sign of the website's diminishing relevance or the fact I've not been updating it much is debatable).

There's still time to decide what to do because the domain has been secured up to August 2017 and the web space is paid up to June 2017, but I think that now is an opportune time to start the debate.

I don't want to just pull the plug and waste all the effort that's gone into the site since it started back in 2002. So at the present time, here's what I think I might do to salvage as much as possible:

  • Move all my apps and components etc. wholly onto Github (Git projects) and SourceForge (Subversion projects).
  • Convert the articles and tips into PDF format and put them on GoogleDrive or similar.
  • Close down the SWAG database web app and simply make the database available as a zip file.
  • Close down the Code Snippets Database web app and make the snippets available as a Git project or as Gists on Github.
  • Close down the site Contact page to reduce the amount of email I need to deal with.
  • Cease development of most of my apps, components etc., leaving some in maintenance mode only, with a just a chosen remaining active. I'm likely to keep only my CodeSnip application (in a modified form) and the System Information Unit and Window State Components under active development.
  • When the web space account expires redirect DelphiDabbler.com to some pages on GitHub.
  • When the domain comes up for renewal either let it expire or move to a new cheaper .co.uk domain. Alternatively invite others to take it over.

All the above is up for debate and if there's sufficient interest I may keep a more tightly focussed and easier to maintain version of the site up and running.

The only things that are pretty much fixed at the moment are that I won't give up the music and I won't upgrade Delphi beyond XE4.

In the meantime I may explore the Free Pascal and Lazarus options. However once XE4 becomes so outdated as to be useless, that's likely to be where I bail out.

I'm still considering making the site more mobile friendly for what is potentially its last 18 months of existence.

I need your views


So, what do you think? Any observations will be welcome. I've come to a crossroads and I need some guidance about which way to go.

Please comment. Should I let DelphiDabbler.com die? Should I keep some parts? What's the most useful to you, if anything?

I'd also like to hear from anyone who might like to take over the site and/or domain over?

36 comments:

Burak KALAYCI said...

I recently found out about DelphiDabbler. FWIW, I think you should keep it online as long as possible, if necessary in low maintenance or even in frozen state.

I use Delphi7 (with Unicode and PNG components) myself and have no desire to upgrade. The guitar (an Ibanez) I bought in 1986 still serves me well, can't say the same for many Turbo Pascal and Delphi versions I paid for since Turbo Pascal 5.5. (I still keep the excellent printed manuals though, don't have the installation media any more). A guitar is definitely a better/longer lasting investment.

Times are changing, fast. I hope you can find some financial support, but in the worst case, repeating myself, I think you should be able to, and should, keep the site alive. Thanks for the site.

JB said...

Please dont't stop! How can we help you? Best regards!

Pitfiend said...

Drop the site, make it open source and move it to Github! Of course the database must be put into the open too.

Pst2d said...

Go for Free Pascal and Lazarus this is future for hobbyist developers. I do this for home but same for my company.

Janneman said...

It sounds like you already know what you want, and who are we to disagree?
You have even thought about a graceful shutdown path.

I see two options:
1. Do all those bullet points you mention and pull the plug on the domain/site
2. Keep the site up but no longer maintain anything

Option 1 still sounds like a decent amount of work, your financial 'burden' will stop, but you then have several 'presences' on the web and may feel that you need to maintain them. You would have to keep managing those 'presences' and make very clear what you maintain and what not.

With option 2 the only thing you have to do is put a disclaimer "No more maintenance" on the site, and keep paying the hosting costs.

A classic time versus money tradeoff.
I would go for the minimum work (option 2) if the costs are doable, because time is the reason you brought this up at all. Contributions will die down. If you feel the costs are too high, do the steps from option 1 that you want to put effort in. Strictkly speaking, you have no obligations to anyone.


Thank you for the 'work' done so far.

Darian Miller said...

I'd suggest leaving it running as-is. There is a lot of good information that you have accumulated and you have built a strong presence as related to Google search. I'd be willing to take over the hosting/domain as needed if you didn't want to invest any more money.

IlyaS said...

I've never have stumbled upon DelphiDabbler and from your first post on October 2015, I feel like I'll be missing it. I think some publicity to the site is in due. All notes even for obsoleted versions of Delphi will be in use and demand long time ahead for sure. Snippets and SWAG databases would be good to open source and get it integrated into CodeSnip http://codesnip-app.blogspot.com/ as an offline frontend.
Thanks for efforts you've invested into this!

Anonymous said...

Go on

Peter Johnson said...

Thanks everyone for your helpful comments and your supportive words. People have commented in several different places, so I'm going to gather them all together and see if there's a consensus that I'm happy with. Cheers

Max said...

Thanks for doing the work to put this site together. Like you, I struggle with the cost, necessity, desire, etc. of keeping current with Delphi's upgrade cycle. If you do migrate to Lazarus/Free Pascal, I would love to hear about your experiences with the learning curve.

Peter Johnson said...

Hi Max. If I do go down the Free Pascal route I will most likely blog about it, even if I don't keep the website. Trouble is, it's the learning curve that puts me off a little.

Ralf Quint said...

Keep it alive!

Even when Embarcadero has chosen to take the high road and make Delphi pretty much inaccessible for a lot of people due to their pricing,
with Free Pascal, there is an Open Source alternative out there, not only limited to Windows, which can only benefit from a sitetool like Delphi Dabbler.

Peter Johnson said...

Thx Ralph. I'll definitely investigate FreePascal. If I take that route maybe I should rename the site something like PascalPlodder :-)

Lex Edmonds said...

I have been using Delphi for many years, and in fact still do a lot with Delphi 2007 even though I also own XE6. For one thing, the executables are so much smaller.

So when you talk about "when XE4 becomes so outdated as to be useless" I think that is still many years away--as long as you are talking VCL development; FireMonkey/OSX/iOS/Android is obviously a totally different story.

So I would encourage you to keep running the site,even if you do virtually nothing with it. I have visited DelphiDabbler numerous times over the years, and each time there's always something of interest here I hadn't noticed before. I definitely hope that you keep going!

Peter Johnson said...

Thx Lex.

I do only develop for win32 using the VCL. I was going to start using FireMonkey, but I've not got on with it well enough.

Android, iOS etc. Development is out of the question using Delphi again because of the cost of entry. I would like to write some Android apps, but that'll have to be in a different language.

I'm hoping the site may stay around in some form or other.

Cheers
Peter

seglea said...

I've found your site really useful, so I'd be sad if you stopped. I do agree that keeping up to date with upgrades is prohibitively expensive for home use - I have never bothered; I only upgrade when something forces me to. I used Delphi 1 for years, then 2, jumped to 4, and then to XE2 because I needed unicode characters - I haven't moved from that. And I've usually managed to find a deal when I needed one. All of this suggests that most of what's on your site will go on being useful for years, so if you can keep it alive, without the time cost of upgrading, I suspect there will be many, like me, who'll be grateful.
--Stephen Lea

Pete W said...

Peter, I feel your pain, Delphi I love and using it since v1. My last Pro version was XE2, but just up graded to Delphi 10 Starter. I have been updating some of my old apps and found it a great step forward, although the pro version would be great, I am currently happy with this 32 bit latest version of Delphi to create Windows 10 style apps.

It's really back to basics using the starter version. I am hoping windows 10 and PC Desktop might survive a little longer.

Will be said if you pull up stumps...

Pete.

Mother10 said...

I agree with the comment about the google search. You might loose the high position in the searches.
But I understand about the Delphi costs.
I upgraded from D7 to XE7Pro last november, when there was a special pricing for old Delphi versions. That will have to do for many years I think :(

It would be great if the information from Delphi Dabbler was not lost so if possible keep it online or follow your bullet points.

About programming:
Months ago I stumbled on Quartex Pascal:
https://quartexpascal.wordpress.com/latest-news/
That looks very promissing. It looks as if there has not been much activity for months, but I have the feeling that behind the scenes a lot has been done already.
Thanks for all your work so far. :)
Regards,
Tineke

Edwin Y said...

Many times I search for a solution to the Delphi problems I have and I end up here, your many years of high-quality work makes your DelphiDabbler site very useful. I wish you and this site well. Thanks!

Peter said...

PLEASE keep your Delphi website and continue coding! I've learned so much from you! Thank you!

Maybe you could combine Delphi and your musical hobby by coding music libraries which are still under-represented in Delphi?

We need you!!

Android Europe said...

We need all the support we can find - every Delphi site is different and I have found many unique tips/help here when I needed it.

I am in the same boat as many others still using Delphi 2007 as well as XE3. Just cannot afford to keep upgrading at the prices charged even for updates. I am sure the cost is partly due to all the "free" addons - A lower base price for upgrades with optional add-ons might make it more affordable!

Would like to see the site continue for many years even if mostly static! Maybe more of us should make a small contribution?

Kind regards.

Anonymous said...

I still code in Delphi 7. Sure I'd love to have the latest and greatest but I too am a hobbyist programmer and can't justify spending big money. The website can't cost much (mine doesn't anyway).

What if your interest in programming resurfaces much like your interest in music has? Btw, I'm trying to restart a Delphi webbrowser project I haven't touched in almost 2 years and it's downright painful trying to get back up to speed. Why oh why didn't I at least dabble in it on weekends???

Peter Johnson said...

Thanks for all the comments - I'm finding them useful.

At least I now know there's some demand for the site - I wasn't sure before if anyone would notice if it just disappeared!

The site doesn't cost a fortune to run - but it's significant and will keep me in guitar strings for quite some time!

More contributions are always welcome, but I'm not fishing for them at the moment - wouldn't be fair if the site ends up closing or moving elsewhere! However, I'm starting to think in terms of trying to keep it going, given all the positive comments.

Pete W said...

Thanks PJ, that is good news, I am please to donate today $10 for the cost of keeping the website and some encouragement for you to keep posting. Cheers

Peter Johnson said...

Thx Peter, most appreciated. I'll keep it on one side for future costs.
Promise not to buy guitar strings with it!! :-)

Pete W said...

Pleasure Mate, buy a beer with it...

Anonymous said...

Please keep it alive. It's one of the best Delphi sites.

Wally said...

I use C++ Builder, but of course that can handle delphi components.

And I have found your code / components library to be extremely valuable for making slick applications quickly.

So please don't just pull it all offline, the resource that is so valuable would disappear. If it goes to github or similar, we then have the effort of trying to find it.

Please try and keep it up for as long as you can, even without updates. After that, consider github or sourceforge (though the work to take things over can be significant).

Springer Rider said...

I truly love this site. It has taught me so much. Please keep it alive.

Slappy said...

Keep the site running!

I visit this website for ages. Every time I need something special I find it here. I even unblocked Ad-blocker tool for this website :)

I suppose the cheapest way is to keep it running on the same domain with the same content. It does not mind there are no new posts or articles - there is enough content (but you can add new items anytime you wish with no effort - if you find a spare time :)

The website has unique look and feel and if it is moved to some code hosting server this will be lost.
Also there is a lot of work to transform it from into appropriate format (however that is one time job).

The hosting costs are not too high (at least here in Slovakia, EU) where domain costs about 10 ,- Eur and hosting about 50 Eur monthly.

Maybe Ad income can cover these fees? If it helps you can put some side banners on the page referring to Delphi related products (e.g. i am developing tool for creating NSIS and Inno Setup projects fro mRAD Studio (http://www.rad-installer.com) so I would love to see banner for my product on this site and can earn some bucks.

Klaus Fischer said...

I'm an occasional reader of the DelphiDabbler pages, and I often managed to find solutions to some of my technical problems. I'm a hobby programmer, too, using only free software. Thus, I use Delphi 6 Personal Edition, and I will not go further to other Delphi versions. But I use the current version of Lazarus, too, porting some of my Delphi codes to Lazarus.

In my view, it would be a real loss if the DelphiDabbler website would vanish. From my point of view, I would suggest the migration to a free web hosting service, even without a specific domain name. Just free hosting would be fine, and this is even possible for a blog.

Hoping some form of continuation of this usefull site, I wish you much fun with your music !

Barry Wood said...

I've used your components for many years and now feel guilty I haven't contributed like I feel I should have. I too am feeling the pinch with regards where Embarcadero (or rather Idera now) are taking Delphi. I've just upgraded to Delphi 10 Seattle (silly name) as probably the last ever upgrade I will do (I started with Deplhi 3, long ago). I don't have another expensive hobby (yet) so have treated myself.

Whenever I have a problem (often) I search the web for an answer or look in the CodeSnip database and usually find it, so many thanks. I would miss information you provide and would be sorry to see you stop providing this information.
However, I understand everything you say and cannot give a good enough answer to make you stay with it - it is way too expensive to stay with Delphi.

David Hawk said...

You have done more than your fair share to support the Delphi community. I too put off upgrades as much as possible due to cost - I am also a hobbyist. Moving everything to GitHub sounds like a lot of work, maybe best to just accept enough donations to keep the existing site on the air with a no-further-maintenance disclaimer. Move on to your music with no guilt!

Anonymous said...

I count I have 53 pieces on your site to study. It would be a pity to discover they are gone. Many thanks for your work!

p.s. I love music too, but my decision-making took me away from music towards ... Delphi :) ... In my case, my kids will benefit more from that Delphi part :)

Alex Zanello said...

Please keep it running, at least in frozen mode.
I'm sure lots of people could benefit from it.
I for one am available to contribute for economic maintenance, if you deem it necessary.
And many, many thanks for your passionate work.
alex

Leigh Harrison said...

Like you, I'm a musician who prefers to invest in studio and musical equipment when I've given the option. While I'm a professional developer, Delphi is now (for me) an artefact of the past. I do still support three Delphi apps, but any new desktop development recently has been in Lazarus for cross-platform compatibility. And mostly what I create now are web applications.

I completely understand your dilemma. It would be nice if you could keep the content available online, as you have pages which cover some topics far better than any of the other online resources. Still, at the end of the day the decision has to be yours.