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Thoughts from David Cornelius

Software development tools and techniques explored--mostly Delphi

Delphi 12: More Syntax Highlighting

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As I've been going through the Delphi 12 beta, I'm delighted to see many fixes and enhancements in the IDE to help the programming experience feel more fluid and intuitive. As with all beta versions being discussed, this blog post is based on a pre-release version of the RAD Studio software and it has been written with specific permission by Embarcadero. No feature is committed until the product GA release.

Creating a Delphi Welcome Page Plug-in

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There have been several iterations of the Delphi IDE's Welcome Page, or the first page that you see by default when you start Delphi without a project. This space has been used for keeping a list of favorite projects for convenient loading, marketing of related products by Embarcadero, and quick links to tutorials and resources. Delphi 11 introduced, in my opinion, the best interface yet as it's completely customizable by the user and provides an API for writing your own plug-ins to provide additional functionality.

Go!

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As mentioned in my last entry, I've recently become curious about the Go programming language, so I took a course to learn the language, partially to support add-ons for Hugo and partially to compare with other languages I've used--most notably, Delphi. What I found was a simple but powerful language, thoughtfully designed, that promotes good coding style and breaks some established patterns of thought I've had with object-oriented programming. In this blog, I'll give a brief overview of what I learned about the Go language from the perspective of a programmer who's used mostly Delphi (Pascal) but with a sprinkling of other languages (C, C++, C#, VB, and PHP) throughout his career.

For Historical Purposes

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Early in my career, I was studying the code of an application written for the Apple II in preparation for developing something similar on the PC and would often ask questions of the original programmer. Most of the time, I'd get valuable information about the purpose of a routine or why something was done a particular way. But every once in a while, when pressed for an explanation, the programmer would think for a minute, then simply utter, "For Historical Purposes" and walk away chuckling.

Thankful for Delphi

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This time of year in the United States is marked by a major holiday, Thanksgiving, the last Thursday of November. It is during this time that ad campaigns, religious organizations, and families everywhere tend to step up their recognition of everything they're thankful for. As a software developer, I'd like to hook into this theme and highlight features of programming tools I use that make my life better--most notably, Delphi--and create my own "thankfulness" list.

Multiple Installs of Firebird

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As a Delphi developer, you might be working with the popular and free Firebird database engine. There are several versions and if you have multiple clients or applications, including some legacy ones that are in maintenance mode, there might be a need to have multiple instances of the Firebird servers installed side-by-side. If you're like me, you might forget which versions are listening on which ports and so use a utility like CurrPorts to remind you. But if you don't use a particular database service very often, it might not be started--or not even installed on the machine on which you're working. If you also have InterBase running, there might be conflicting or generic service names like "gdb" which doesn't tell you which engine it's for nor which version. This confusion can be reduced if you make a few configuration file changes and install the Firebird services yourself. Here's how.

Using the Vault API

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Nearly two years ago, Idera acquired apilayer, a collection of various cloud-based APIs. Idera being Embarcadero's parent company (and Embarcadero being the publisher of my favorite development tool, Delphi), I was interested to see what this was all about and looked at the handful of APIs available. One caught my eye and I made a note to come back and check it out more when the time was right.

Delphi Debates: Assigned

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As a Delphi MVP, I was surveyed on my stance of the use of FreeAndNil. In that questionnaire was included a question about the use of Assigned(). Really? Is that debated as well? I couldn't find anything on the internet debating this except for an old discussion on StackOverflow. I use this function frequently and as I looked more deeply at what it does, I'm even more confident of its use.

Delphi Debates: FreeAndNil

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When freeing an object in Delphi, simply calling its Free method calls the object's destructor and releases the memory allocated to the instance of the object. But it doesn't change the address of the referencing variable which, therefore, still points to the place in memory where the object existed. The released memory can be quickly reused by other objects or resources and if you try to access the object again without re-creating it, you could get an Access Violation or some other error or worse yet, unpredictable behavior.

Delphi's Find in Files Trick

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You've probably used Delphi's Find in Files feature to search for an identifier or library function through multiple folders of source code. If you have backups of your source or multiple projects with copied or similar sets of routines and check the "Include subdirectories" checkbox, the search results could contain a lot of duplicates taking extra time to wade through them all. Wouldn't it be nice if there was a way to fine-tune the folders being searched?

There is!

Switching From UniDAC to FireDAC

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Since upgrading my Delphi subscription from Professional to Enterprise, I've been slowly replacing third-party database components with FireDAC since the Enterprise edition comes with many more databases supported. One of the ones I've used a lot is Devart's UniDAC. UniDAC is a great database component suite. I've used them for many years, they have an excellent support forum, and frequent updates. I just don't want to pay for duplicate functionality--well, mostly duplicate; there are some advantages to using UniDAC but they're not deal-breakers for me.

Application Usage Reporting with Delphi and PHP

I do a lot of contract programming in a niche market that requires small, custom-written, import/export programs. Some of these can are copied with few modifications for similar customers. Once in a while, there's a common need where the application can be used by several customers. In those instances, I need to implement some form of licensing and accountability but I didn't want anything too elaborate nor do I want to incur ongoing charges for an online API for the one-time pricing structure of the projects I work on.

My History with Delphi--and Why I still Use It

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Today marks the 27th anniversary of the first release of Delphi. My personal experience with the product starts several years before 1995 and ends with the conclusion that Delphi is still just as relevant and critical to my business as ever. Let me tell you the story about how I came to use it--and why I still find it the best development tool for what I do today.

Delphi Productivity Tips: Keyboard and Mouse Basics

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There's an old story about a question that was posed during a family meal asking what was the best modern convenience in the home. The younger generation were saying things like ice makers in refrigerators and microwave ovens. The grandmother of the family listened for awhile then gave her input: indoor plumbing! It's too easy to take some of the basic conveniences of life--or features of an IDE--for granted, and assume they will always be present. This article continues a set of Delphi Productivity Tips but goes back to some of the basics of the Delphi IDE that I realized are probably more import--but I don't always think about because I figured every development environment should have.
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