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By: Pawel Glowacki
Abstract: You may not be aware of all the great stuff that has been added to Delphi over the years.
I've been using Delphi since its first release, and have been watching over the years how this great product matures and evolves. Delphi 7 was the last Delphi release based on the same IDE-core as Delphi 1. Many developers are still using older versions of Delphi and probably are not aware of all the great stuff that was added to Delphi after Delphi 7. CodeGear RAD Studio 2007 is the fifth version of the IDE based on the new multi-personality IDE core "Gallileo". Many features and technologies have been added to Delphi over the course of these five IDE versions.
Below is my subjective list of Ten Top Reasons to upgrade to RAD Studio 2007 aka Delphi 2007. I like Delphi for .NET programming very much. Especially .NET 3.x programming, however this list focuses primarily on Delphi for Win32 development, and does not contain super cool features like Delphi ASP.NET 2.0 programming or C++ support.
Things that did make it into the Top Ten…
10. New "Galileo" IDE
Nick Hodges created a very nice list of "New IDE features since Delphi 7" .
New build engine is based on MSBuild technology. Project file is XML-based, and new Delphi project file extension is "*.dproj".
Few words about Help Insight from Corbin Dunn Blog
"Delphi 2005 has a cool new feature called Help Insight. When you move the mouse over a symbol and wait for a second, the IDE grabs the XML documentation for that symbol and dynamically displays the help for it (if available). (...) If you want, you can customize the look of the Help Insight window. It simply is a mini-web page. Inside the ObjRepos directory, you will find HelpInsight.css and HelpInsight.xsl. By tweaking the .css file, you can easily control the look of the page. By tweaking the .xsl file, you can control the layout of the page."
9. New Components
8. Delphi Language and Compiler
Nick Hodges created a very good reference to New Language features since Delphi 7 .
Below some highlights:
7. Debugger and Memory Manager
6. Unit Testing
5. Template Libraries
Template Libraries is new powerful repository mechanism introduced in RAD Studio 2007.
Template Libraries RAD Studio allows you to create multiple custom template libraries to use as the basis for creating future projects. Template libraries let you declare how a project can look, and enable you to add new types of projects to the New Items dialog box. Creating a template library is a two-step process.
First, you create a RAD Studio project to use as the basis for the template, and an XML file with a .bdstemplatelib extension that describes the project. This project can be any kind of project that RAD Studio supports. Next, you add the project to the list of template libraries in the IDE by pointing to the .bdstemplatelib template library file in the Template Libraries dialog box, accessed with ToolsTemplate Libraries. You can create your own template libraries, and you can use those created by other developers. RAD Studio delivers a default template library which cannot be removed, however you can add and remove custom template libraries.
Note: When creating a project to use with a template library, make sure the project is located in a subdirectory that contains no other projects. All of the files that are in the project should be located within the subdirectory or child subdirectories.
You can either create a single .bdstemplatelib template library file for each template library project, or list several related template projects in the same .bdstemplatelib template library file by assigning each project a separate unique item number.
From the list of preinstalled templates that come with a default installation of RAD Studio 2007 you might get an impression that "Template Libraries" are only used for so called "improved start-from-scratchability" (a term coined by Jim Tierney, Delphi R&D Engineer) for Delphi ASP.NET 2.0 MasterPage-based web applications, but in fact this mechanism can be used for other types of RAD Studio 2007 applications. According to help there are four types of projects that can be created with template libraries. The type of project is specified using one of a predefined values for "Creator" attribute inside the bdstemplatelib xml file:
Currently Template Libraries support the following types of projects:
4. Local History
The History Tab functions as a very simple source control system. Each time a file is saved, a backup is made and stored in a subdirectory. The IDE tracks these follows and allows the developer to review earlier versions of the file using a diff engine. If an older version of the file is needed, it can replace the existing file.
3. New DBX4 Database Architecture
Steve Shaughnessy, DBX4 architect, provides very valuable insight into the DBX4 architecture on his blog.
2. Live Templates
Delphi wiki page contains lots of technical information about Live Templates
Delphi 2006 introduced a feature called "Live Templates" that allows one to write macro type templates that expand from a keyword and are parameterized, i.e. you can tab through the parameters and supply them one by one. This is a great productivity aid. The best part is that you can provide your own and it is relatively simple to do so.
The coolest thing about Live Templates is that their functionality can extended through Open Tools API scriptable engines. Adam Markowitz discusses this features in his blog "Live Template Script Examples - var declaration with initialization and clipboard contents (Delphi2006)".
Nick Hodges, Delphi Product Manager, created "a set of Live Templates and a scripting engine to make development of Blackfish SQL triggers and stored procedure easier". ID: 24990, Nick's Blackfish SQL Development Pack
Marco Cantu says on his blog about scripting live templates:
A nice thing about Live Templates is that they are fully customizable. A not so nice think is that they are not documented. The Delphi Wiki site fills this gap woith two interesting articles, one with lots of examples and the other with some reference material. Now what I'd really like DevCo to document, beside some of the other details, is the list of scripts (or internal functions) you can invoke from the templates, like:
What is Refactoring?
“Refactoring is the process of changing a software system in such a way that it does not alter the external behaviour of the code yet improves its internal structure.”
Martin Fowler, Refactoring
Delphi supports the following refactorings:
Symbol renaming allows you to change all instances of a symbol's name throughout your project. The Declare Variable and Declare Field options permit you to quickly create a local variable or member field declaration. Resource refactorings are used in Delphi code to convert string literals into resourcestring block entries, replacing the original literal with the resource string symbol. Extract method allows you to select a portion of source code and turn the code into a method, extracting the selected source code. Although not exactly a refactoring, the Import Namespace and Find Unit options under the Refactor menu permit you to quickly locate and import the namespace associated with a particular symbol.
I do not know about you, but for me the support for refactoring is the most useful IDE feature that was not in Delphi 7. This combined with unit testing gives you enormous amount of power and confidence in your code. This is AGILE!
There is lots of things in Delphi 2007. Every day I'm discovering something new and exciting. If you have not used already, you should definitely give it a try:-)
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