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Borland tries again

Borland. The word has been magic to many of the world’s top developers for 20 years. From Turbo Pascal through Delphi to JBuilder and the upcoming C# Builder and everything in between, software developers have long turned to Borland for tools.

Borland itself has survived through the years despite a very rocky history since its founding in 1983 by colorful programmer and man-about-town Philippe Kahn. It wasn’t long after the original Borland Turbo Language Series of compilers and programming language extensions that the first corporate expansion plans were put together.

One of the first plans was to buy up best-of-breed desktop applications and take on the Microsoft Office juggernaut. Not surprisingly, that effort failed. Then came the Inprise experiment of the mid-1990s. That effort to dampen the tools focus to concentrate on the middleware business resulted in losses and layoffs. Inprise management pretty much ignored individual developers, but many kept using the Borland tools. Next up was an agreement to combine forces with Corel Corp. to become a Linux leader. That dubious plan was stopped in its tracks when the agreement was terminated due to Corel’s plummeting stock price.

Now Borland is trying again to become an enterprise software player, but this time officials promise not to lose sight of the loyal developer. As the company unveils its integrated toolsets for the application development life cycle that incorporate traditional Borland tools along with acquired offerings from the likes of Starbase and TogetherSoft, CEO Dale Fuller promises that the firm will continue to focus on satisfying its traditional base of standalone developers, as we report in this month’s cover story, “Can Borland ride the life cycle?”.

Can the strategy work this time? We took a close look at Borland’s past and at the plan put together by the latest management team and found that observers are cautiously optimistic that this one could take Borland to the next level. There are issues, not the least of which is whether a standalone software company can compete with platform giants that distribute tools as part of an enterprise purchase. This time Borland is betting on its technology, integrated suites and its longtime relationship with individual corporate developers.

This issue also features a report on the state of the Web Services Description Language (WSDL), one of the key Web services standards. Contributor Richard Adhikari looks at the strengths and weaknesses of WSDL and where industry experts see it going in the foreseeable future.

About the Author

Mike Bucken is former Editor-in-Chief of Application Development Trends magazine.

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