Delphi Goes to School in Russia

CodeGear partners with Russia to provide programming education.

Borland Software Corp.'s developer tools subsidiary CodeGear announced a sizable licensing agreement in the Eastern bloc. The company joins Corel Corp. and other as-yet-unannounced vendors in a deal with the Russian Federated Agency of Education to provide technology and other resources to teach programming in primary and secondary schools.

On the education front, Microsoft launched a program to provide student access to development software at no charge. Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates announced that the program -- called DreamSpark -- will be initially available to 35 million university students in Belgium, China, Finland, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States, and will be expanded throughout the year to cover a potential 1 billion high school students worldwide.

Investment in the Future
For its part, CodeGear's push into the Eastern bloc represents an important effort to shore up the available pool of developers. "It's a forward-looking investment by a government looking to build the next generation of technologists in the country," says Jim Douglas, chief executive officer of CodeGear.

Russia is trying to introduce computer science and related studies for children at earlier ages than you'd typically find in curriculums in the United States, he says. The Russian education program is targeted at students between the ages of 7 and 17 years old, according to CodeGear.

The up-to-1-million-seat licensing agreement involves Borland's flagship rapid application development environments: the Windows-based Delphi, Delphi for .NET and C++ Builder.

Why did the Russian Federated Agency of Education choose Delphi and C++Builder? "There's a lot of general knowledge and experience in the community there with our products, so that's part of it," observes Douglas. CodeGear's products are widely used in the Eastern bloc and Asian countries, and the company is looking for ways to monetize that, he adds.


First Steps
Though widely used in some countries, CodeGear's products did not fare as well in a Forrester Research Inc. "IDE Usage Trends" report, released in February. The report is based on responses from 703 development professionals culled from the readers of 1105 Media Inc.'s .NET and Java newsletters. (1105 Media is the publisher of RDN.) Of those surveyed, Delphi usage was in the low single digits, reports Jeffrey Hammond, senior analyst of application development at Forrester.

Hammond views CodeGear's recent announcement in the same light as any large enterprise agreement.

"It's a good first step," he notes in an e-mail interview, "but to capitalize on it Borland -- or an integration partner -- and the Russian education system need to have an aggressive roll-out plan to make sure the copies actually get into the hands of the target users and put into active use. It will take some time to do that, and only after that effort will we be able to really judge the impact of the deal."

Right now, CodeGear does not have similar agreements in place with any other educational systems. Douglas and others on his staff have met with educators in China and the United States to find out more about their needs and how their curriculums match real-world requirements. The United States presents unique challenges because the education system is decentralized.

"Education is a significant part of our story around these technologies," Douglas says. "It's something that I'm personally trying to re-inject into our company, into our culture and into our focus. But we're certainly not on the doorstep of doing anything this major anywhere else."

About the Author

Kathleen Richards is the editor of and executive editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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