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A new user to Delphi reports on his annoyances

Branden Tanga posted a list of annoyances with Delphi on his blog.  While there are some legitimate complaints you can make about Delphi (the borked help system), his complaints largely stem from being unfamiliar with the IDE. I’m going to paraphrase his complaints to just list the gist of complaint and my responses.  Other people have commented on his complaints, but I did want to note that his first one has some value.

  • “Can’t indent a block of text”  You can indent by pressing Shift+CTRL+i and unindent with Shift+Ctrl+u.  You would never know by looking the IDE.  Those actions could have been listed on the “Edit” menu.  I searched the help and could not find it.  If you are new to Delphi, there is no way you would have know how to do this with asking someone.  I had to go back the Delphi 7 help system and search on “Block commands”.  I hope that Nick Hodges is following this.  And there is a free plugin named DDevExtensions that (among other things) will give you the ability to use the Tab/Shift+Tab for indent/unindent.
  • “Weird bug where RAD will crash”  Hmm, can’t say much without knowing what he was trying to do at the time.  The obvious question is did he have all of the updates and hotfixes installed?
  • “If you launch your application from within RAD, it must be managed within RAD”  That’s because you are running it from within the debugger.  And you can stop it from the debugger.
  • “You have to pay 3rd parties for extra widgets. That makes absolutely no sense to me. Visual Studio and the Windows API provide me all the widgets I could want….Delphi developers like to make their own widgets and sell them to each other.”  That one made me stop and say “Huh?”  Out of the box, you get more components with Delphi than with VS.  Delphi has Project JEDI and their huge library of controls and other functionality.  There is nothing quite like that in the Microsoft ecosystem.   Is Branden aware of the huge market of 3rd party components for Visual Studio Telerik, DevExpress, Infragistics, etc)?  I just don’t see how he came up this complaint.
  • “There is no free version of CodeGear RAD”  Actually there is a version, it’s called Turbo Delphi.  It’s not the current version of Delphi (Delphi 2006 based), but it’s current enough to introduce you to the product.  I hope that the new owner of Delphi, Embarcadero, will release new versions of the Turbo line.  it’s fine line that they will need to walk.  Having the Turbo Editions allow people to get a taste for Delphi without having a large expense, but they don’t want to take away from sales of the full product.  it is a commercial product, sales revenues pay for the continued development of the tool.
  • “You can only write Delphi code using RAD, which costs money to own.”  That’s negated my previous comment about Turbo Delphi.  The whole idea of doing application development with Delphi is that it’s a RAD tool.  Why would you want to do app development with notepad anyway?
  • ”There are properties and objects that are COMPLETELY HIDDEN from the developer, and the only way to access them is through RAD’s wysiwyg editor.”  The visual properties and objects are stored in the .dfm files, which are text based.  If you embed graphics into a component, the image will be streamed as series of hex values, but you would get the same type of stream with images embedded in .NET components.

Out of all of those complaints, only the one with any value is the blocking indenting issue.  And that’s a help/documentation issue as Delphi has a full set of block commands, they just are not documented anymore.  I work in both VS 2008 and Delphi 2007, they both have their strengths and they both have their weaknesses.  I am curious about how much time Branden spent with Delphi before composing his list.