Delphi XE3 Professional downgraded to local databases only

There is a bit of a stir in the Embarcadero community following the leaking of a document which appears to be an email to partners concerning a major change in the EULA (End User Licence Agreement) for the Professional edition of Delphi, the RAD development tool for Windows (with lately some cross-platform capability).

This email is to let Embarcadero Technology partners know about some changes being made to the EULA changes in our XE3 release.

In particular, the use of data access technologies for client/server connectivity will no longer be allowed in the Professional edition.
This includes both Embarcadero and 3rd party solutions. Professional users may only, legally, access local databases with their applications.

Users who want to use client/server database access can purchase a Client/Server Add-On Pack for their Professional edition or purchase
an Enterprise, Ultimate or Architect edition product.

This restriction if for new licenses only.  Users upgrading to XE3 will be "grandfathered" in that they will be able to continue to use 3rd party data access technologies for client/server database access in version XE3. Additionally, Starter Edition has been restricted to use of MyBase (.CDS or .XML file formats) only for "database access."

While this has not been officially confirmed I believe the email, at least,is authentic. Embarcadero’s David Intersimone implicitly confirms it with comments in the lengthy discussion on the Embarcadero forums.

It sounds complex and, like many software licences, based essentially on trust rather than technical limitation.

In the past, Professional has been the edition of Delphi to get if you want to do real work but do not need fancy stuff like modeling tools, advanced database frameworks and so on.

A “Professional” edition with local database access only does not deserve the name. This kind of restriction is usually reserved for tools aimed at hobbyists or intended mainly for trial purposes.

The news has not gone down well. Some of the most vocal on the Embarcadero forums are partners whose add-ons will no longer be legal to use with the Professional edition.

As a loyal Delphi developer since 1995… and as an Embarcadero Technology Partner… I cannot simply sit by and say nothing. This EULA change is WRONG. There’s no moral ambiguity here! It doesn’t tow a line, fall into a "grey area" or wobble on the tightrope… it is simply wrong. It crosses every line: ethically, morally, and progressively. Not only that, but as an idea it is patently stupid! The condition is financially and logistically unenforcable, and the only thing it does is serve to deter new customers.

says Simon Stuart, creator of the Lua4Delphi library.

The core problem here? It is hard to make money on development tools, given the competition that is either free or provided by platform vendors (meaning Microsoft or Apple) who have every advantage in terms of finance and inside knowledge.

Delphi is a fantastic tool; but Embarcadero still struggles with quality issues. The answer is greater investment, but where does that come from? Upping the price is one strategy, though it is no sure-fire solution as the above debate demonstrates.

Update: It appears that Embarcadero has backed down. The “finalized” EULA states that the local database restriction only applies to dbExpress, a specific Embarcadero database framework:

Licensee may not use that portion of the Product identified as “dbExpress” in association with a database located on a different machine other than the machine on which the Works are installed.

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5 comments to Delphi XE3 Professional downgraded to local databases only

  • Kyle Miller

    Over the years, Delphi has added more and more features to its feature set. This adds more and more maintenance cost to the package. To maintain profitability, you have to a) drop features or b) partition features across products and add-ons. This makes each product’s development cost more manageable and pricing more flexible. Delphi the kitchen sink is not long term sustainable.

    So, I think this move is it draw new product lines in order to better control costs.

  • LDS

    To raise prices, Embarcadero has to release state-of-the-art products. Attempting to raise the price of a product already know for a low price/feature ratio (and often price/quality ratio too) simply using a more restrictive license is a suicide.
    Enterpreneurs shoud start to invest *their* money again and risk – that’s how it worked in the past, they can’t think they can invest customers, shareholders and banks money only, while storing their money away, preferably in some offshore tax haven. It’s the risk avoidance and/or transfer that is destroying some companies.

  • gary

    I just think the pricing has got way off now, under embarcadero the prices have risen drastically. I always thought since way back to 95 with D1 that the versions under borland and inprise were keenly priced.

    I’m still an avid user of D7 as I still find that a brilliant and productive IDE and often look at newer versions but think the pricing expensive. When you factor in that competing products such as visual studio are still competitively priced and we live in a world of OSS where technologies such as python, ruby, php, mysql are ubiquitous its hard to see anyone sticking with Delphi. Of course the only option is to buy a 3rd party tool for direct access to your server DB of choice.

    And as LDS states its not like Embar releases quality software is it?

  • Larry

    Embarcadero has dramatically increased pricing in the short period of its ownership of Delphi. It seems likely that it was their intention to restrict the “professional” version to local databases only and thereby force many of their clients to pay twice as much (of an already inflated price) when it came time to purchase or upgrade. The backlash caused them to step back from fully taking this step but their actions constitute a clear statement of intent.

    It is surprising that so many have stayed with the product given the missteps made by Borland/Inprise, Codegear and now Embarcadero. The company continues to de-focus it’s efforts by working on multiple languages (was it ever necessary to add C++, PHP, HTML5 or Prism?) in place of doing one really well? Is it necessary to have your employees gallop around the globe for “World Tours” instead of opting for the much lower cost webinars? I am sure it is fun for the privileged few involved but your customers are tired of footing the bill.

    Message to Embarcadero: A badly crippled version of Delphi is not, by anyone’s definition, “professional” and you were already overpriced on that. I have been with the product since Turbo Pascal 1.0. Clearly, you now want developers like me to move on. Accepted.

  • Navid

    I agree with Larry. Like it or not, there are not enough C++B uses (myself included) to justify further development and cost. VCL is mature and sable and should be maintained. They need to focus on Delphi and understand the value of what they have. Take DataSnap for example: imagine how much money an enterprise could save if DataSnap could be deployed on Linux vs. Windows servers. There is a future in Linux for Delphi. There are many competing tools on iOS that are simply better than Firemonkey/Delphi will ever be. It seems EmBorCodeGearo (;-) is focusing more and more on subsets of its existing user base than trying to attract new territory. Just remember that Delphi’s current owner is a venture capital entity. It would not surprise me if they suddenly handed Delphi off and picked something else instead. I agree with Larry’s impression that they lack focus.