I recently gave a client a major update to their custom application. Actually, "major" doesn't even do it justice. It was more like "mega major" and I don't think I'll take the approach I did ever again. But I wanted to move their code to the latest compilers and to support the latest operating systems. I also needed to change some low-level database constructs. Why all this? Because I'm a best-practices sort of guy.
In the old DOS days, things were simple. You had 25 rows and 80 columns of text. Period. Well, if you knew the right tricks, you could double the rows or columns, but still it was pretty limited. This made programming fairly easy--you knew how much space you had to deal with. With a GUI, or Graphical User Interface, things can get stretched out, you can have larger fonts, and you can have themes on or off. So knowing how much space you have to display stuff isn't quite as cut and dried. But I'm going to look at just one aspect that can be surprising: themes.
Adding theme support to your application can give your program a whole new look (if you use standard Windows controls) without changing anything else. This works because the controls will actually use a different set of DLLs behind the scene. In Delphi 2007, this is accomplished with a simple checkbox in the project options. (Visit the Delphi Wikia page and search for "Adding Theme Support" for more information.) The DateTimePicker is one of these and I just discovered its new capabilities when themed on Vista or Windows 7.
"Well, I'm finally going to finish building my quad core PC. It may be overkill as I don't play games, but I'm sick of having a slow computer! About the OS, it seems like I have a few options: pre-order Windows 7 upgrade, get Windows XP-64, or get Windows Vista Ultimate. I'm looking for some quick, brief advice, and I respect your time and opinion. I don't have experience with anything beyond regular XP... What are the advantages and disadvantages of Vista? Are there UI improvements that make Vista really worth the upgrade? Are there enough improvements in Windows 7 that make it worth waiting for?"Between my home office desktop, my son's computer, my wife's computer, a laptop, and the machine I use at work, I use XP-64, XP Pro, Vista Ultimate, Vista Home Premium, and Vista Business 64, so have a lot of experience dealing with a variety of applications in a variety of environments. In addition, I'm playing around with Windows 7 in a virtual machine. Being a developer, I read a lot of technical journals, RSS feeds, and newsgroups. Knowing all this is what prompted my friend to ask for my opinion. Here is my response.
Every time I turn around, there are new modules, new themes, and more people using Drupal, a solid content management framework for building a huge variety of web sites.
I was visiting a client recently who asked about a new feature for their web site. Sure enough, not only was this module available for Drupal, there are several different ways to do it and some related modules for additional functionality the client will be delighted to hear about.
I've recently acquired the latest Pascal language compiler from RemObjects, Oxygene. Embarcadero, now the owners of Delphi, decided not to continue development of Delphi for .NET, but instead license this compiler plug-in for Visual Studio from RemObjects. So if you get RAD Studio 2009 from Embarcedero, which includes Delphi 2009 for Win32, you also get a special single-language version of Microsoft Visual Studio with the Pascal compiler from RemObjects.