As music from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 blared in the background, a gorilla stepped onto the stage at Borland Software Corp.’s 12th annual conference, BorCon. With the bone in its hand, the gorilla smashed to bits white foam letters reading Inprise. Once the gorilla was done, much larger letters reading Borland appeared behind it, signalling the completion of the company’s painful name change, as the audience cheered.
The gorilla then took off its mask, and David Intersimone, the Scotts Valley, Calif.-based software development company’s vice-president of developer relations stepped out of the gorilla suit.
“Hello, David,” a calm voice said overhead. It was the voice of the Dale 9000, Borland’s counterpart to 2001‘s demented computer, HAL.
“I’ve just picked up system faults,” the Dale 9000 said, attributing the failure to human error. But unlike 2001‘s HAL, whose shortcomings led to disaster, the Dale 9000 had a panacea ready at hand – adopting all-Borland software.
After the quick fix, Borland’s CEO and president, Dale Fuller stepped onto the stage.
“I want to welcome everyone here to our family reunion,” he said.
It was the first BorCon he’d attended as the president of Borland, he said, referring to the company’s unpopular name change to Inprise.
“The name change is not just cosmetic,” he said. “We’re not just back, we’re back with a vengeance.”
The company’s focus is on the Internet, Fuller said. Microsoft is two years behind Borland, he claimed.
Fuller said he wants Borland to be the de facto standard on all devices. “I want your customers saying, ‘If you’re not using Borland products, I can’t use you.'”
The company has done fairly well financially over the last couple of years, he said.
After the keynote, Fuller drew criticism from a user complaining about the rising cost of using Borland’s enterprise products. The price increases came without warning, the user said during a Q&A session, leaving him short and the company’s CFO unhappy with the IT department at an economically tenuous time.
The price increases were necessary to keep the company vital, Fuller countered. “There are economics,” he said. “We gruel over it. Cost is what cost is.”
As a result of the company’s strategy, it is stronger than before, he said later. “Will we see the millennium? Remember that question,” he said.
“We want to be here 10 years from now,” he said.
During the keynote, the company demonstrated it’s new TeamSource DSP (Developer Services Platform) for the first time in public. The product is designed for collaborative developing environments for teams creating across firewalls and cities.
“We do have the products of the future,” Fuller said.
Lee Wright, a senior vice-president with Nokia hopes that mobile applications will be a large part of Borland’s future.
“That’s not reality today or tomorrow,” he said during a keynote address at the conference. Wireless development is a mess, he said. Wireless development is plagued with interoperability problems and a slew of conflicting standards.
“The killer app for the cell phone is a voice call,” he said.
But he believes the wireless evolution will happen eventually. “It’s going to get worse before it gets better,” he said. “In the future we will be surprised that being connected once meant being physically connected.
“We at Nokia are counting on you,” he said to the audience, the majority of whom were developers.
Carl Jensen was one of the developers at the conference.
Jensen, a developer with tax and financial applications company Intuit Greenpoint Software in Calgary, went to the conference in search of “new ideas, new ways of approaching old problems.
“I got quite a bit out of it – not as much as I was hoping I would though.”
He found the speakers at some of the sessions didn’t go as in depth as he would have liked, but found a few of the sessions helpful.
“(The session) on debugging programs in Delphi was probably the most interesting one. It gave me different ways of looking at things and shortcuts that we can put into the software to track and manage so we don’t get the bugs in there in the first place.”