Saturday, 27 June 2009

The saga of TurboPower

Up until about six years ago, one of the big players in the Delphi 3rd party component market was Turbopower. Their component suites extended Delphi functionality significantly and were used by thousands of developers. Then, in early 2003, Turbopower closed. The scuttlebutt was that Turbopower had been bought by a Casino Software company who developed not in Borland*, but in various Microsoft languages (remember, this was the era before C# gained the traction it now has) and all the Borland* programmers in Turbopower were now reassigned elsewhere.

This sort of thing is remarkably common in the software industry, and as commenters to my last post on this topic pointed out, a powerful disincentive to choose commerical products to base development on. The theory is obvious: unlike open-source products, there is the risk of development resources drying up or stopping, with the worst case scenario being withdrawl of the products (such as the recent brouhaha over Oracle buying and then eviscarating Virtual Iron in favour of their own virtualization solution).

What makes Turbopower different to the usual tale of woe is that they released all their components as open source, and development has continued to this day (the Abbrevia suite of compression components, for example, has 20 registered and active developers on SourceForge, and support and development of them is still going strong).

As I've mentioned before, I'm not dogmatic on the whole closed vs open source war - both have their uses and their advantages, and anyway, a good rule of thumb for us developers is to use whatever tools allow us to get the job done on time and without too much drama, but I do think what happened with Turopower components was probably the best solution.

Incidentally, I'm considering using the aforementioned Abbrevia to implement compression of save files, when I get round to implementing them.

*I use 'Borland' deliberately here instead of Delphi, as Turbopower catered for much more than Delphi, e.g. with C++ Builder and Kylix versions of their components available.

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