Once upon a time in a land far far away there was a group of developers who had been writing financial apps in Borland Delphi for banks. After a couple or so of these, they noticed that they were writing the same UI code over and over, but just applying it to different scenarios. Abstract out the scenario details and … they had a UI control that can be used in lots of applications. Lather, rinse, repeat a few times and they soon had lots of them.
Enter a knight in shining armor (as it were), a guru at marketing and selling, also in the app-writing business. He was contacted by this group of developers: can you help us package these controls and sell them?
The rest is history. A company was formed, and the first UI control product was released in November 1998 (I’m reliably told November 22) under the company name of Developer Express (and pretty soon that was abbreviated to DevExpress). Yes, it was fifteen years ago.
Speaking personally, I would have to say that the first time I became really aware of DevExpress was at the Borland Conference (BorCon) in Philadelphia in July 1999, eight months later. At that time I was working for a competitor, TurboPower Software, who, as it happened, also wrote and sold UI control packages (my readers from that time will remember Orpheus was the name of this control set) as well as other kinds of libraries for Delphi. I say “really aware” because TurboPower had other competitors, more well established than this new upstart.
That BorCon was the first time I met Ray Navasarkian, the President of DevExpress (and who is now my boss). We’d meet up regularly at every BorCon from then on, until essentially they didn’t happen anymore, and TurboPower was eventually closed down.
During those early years DevExpress continued to produce new UI libraries for Delphi on a regular basis. The founders stayed on, the dev teams increased in size, and suddenly there was another opportunity on the horizon: Visual Studio .NET and this new language called C#. DevExpress seized the initiative: rewrite all their controls in C#, using everything they had learned about writing and marketing UI controls in the meantime. The whole company was involved to such an extent that the first third-party .NET WinForms product was released by DevExpress in 2001 while Visual Studio .NET was still in beta. Even more than that, unlike the older Visual Studio and support for VBXs, DevExpress released the full source code as well, setting the stage for the market we are in now.
More impressive to me perhaps is the morale and health of the company as we’ve grown. DevExpress is a fantastic company to work for. Everyone is enthusiastic about the products and their colleagues, turnover is very low (all the founders are still here and ditto those early developers), the support team are the best in our business, our tech writing team (which includes the proofing team) produce some sterling documentation, the developers write great features and enhancements, our designers have learned to beat down and tame the developers – all in all, a great group of people.
Of course, we couldn’t have become what we are now without you, our customers. You’ve been supportive, you’ve cheered, you’ve complained, you’ve provided great feedback, you’ve cajoled us into providing features, you’ve been along for the ride. Customers are important enough that we have just set up our new Developer Advocates team to give you a point of contact should you need more from us.
To mark this occasion, throughout the month of November, we’ll be running some contests with great prizes, we’re going to give away gifts, and we’ll be raising money for charitable organizations via eBay auctions. To join the celebration, follow us on our blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube and watch out for the announcements.
On behalf of all of DevExpress, I would like to thank you for the first 15 years and here’s to another 15!