I downloaded the D2010 trial last night to see how the latest and greatest version of Delphi is looking. Like Tim Anderson, my initial impressions are mixed — not terrible by any means, but not as good as they maybe should have been.
To start with the good though, downloading and installing was nice and efficient for me. I’ve never installed Visual Studio to compare, but in relation to MS Office (which I have installed quite a few times and over several versions), the Delphi installation process comes across smelling of roses. Of course, one might say that anything could look good next to Office’s over-engineered lump of a setup process, but even still, the Delphi installation is still fine IMO.
In running the IDE for the first time however, a few negatives crept up. Not in actually running the IDE — performance is great, even on my slow old laptop. Rather, some minor things annoy or disappoint:
- Despite the braindead requirement for the IDE to be run with administrative privileges for the auto-update feature (turned on by default!) to actually work, the core IDE since D2007 can run fine without them. One consequence of this, however, is that the Demos folder has had to be burried away. OK, so the readme says where to, but really, would it be so hard if the Welcome page could have a link to it, and prominently displayed too, when you first run the IDE?
- I much prefer my TForms to be free floating, so I lurch towards the Options menu item before suddenly thinking, this is a job for the new IDE Insight thingy! Unfortunately, the fact that the items listed appear to be added solely on the basis of their corresponding control’s caption leads me to give up — ‘”undocked”? Nope. “Form”? Nope – oh dammit, I remember where it was from D2007 anyway…’ Given the dialog is very snappy — so snappy it wouldn’t be too amiss if it were a bit less so — maybe the D2011 IDE could assign some synomyms to key items?
- The IDE’s menu bar (and more specifically, the TActionMenuBar control, which the IDE uses) has a lame-looking bug: click on a top level menu item, then without explicitly dismissing the resulting menu, move the mouse pointer over a sibling item, before moving it back over the original one and left-clicking to dismiss the menu. Note how the menu item is still shown depressed! (At least, it does on my machine.) Minor for sure, but very unprofessional-looking.
- Despite a forum post from Nick Hodges a bit ago saying he was going through the demos, they still seem much the same old mish-mash with an (ahem) variable standard of coding. To pick just a few out, why does the DBX Explorer demo still use deprecated units? Couldn’t the EarthPong demo — a simple game, great! — do with a rewrite (the original writer apparently never heard of TBitmap, quite apart from having made speed assumptions that don’t, er, scale very well to modern PCs)? Why does the Indy subdirectory still contain just a text file from the D7 days? And, while the embarassingly-named Cool Stuff demo still serves a purpose, whoever bothered to change the Borland link to an Embarcadero one but failed to clear the coolbar’s Bitmap property needs their eyes tested…
- My biggest bugbear by far: when it comes to the IDE, I like things semi-retro, a floating form designer and an ‘undocked’ layout, but with the structure pane and object inspector docked together on the left hand side and the project manager and the tool palette docked together on the right hand side. Try as I might to set this up however, the IDE doesn’t save it properly — restart the IDE, and all the tool panels get plonked on top of each other in the top left corner. (I found this to be the case when trying out the D2009 trial too.) Does anyone know how to fix this…?
On the other hand, a few positives quickly popped up as well:
- The first demo I reached for was the ribbon one. Having tried the ribbon in the D2009 trial, I remembered it to be half finished. Thankfully, it’s looking pretty good now (so, bad news for DevExpress and TMS…), with glass support on Vista.
- The appearance of TCustomGrid (and thus, TDBGrid, TStringGrid, etc.) has been freshened up a bit — no longer does it look like something from the Windows 3.x days.
- The Firefox-style Find bar on Ctrl+F is great.
- The bundled GlyFX icon set now includes a nice ‘Aero’ collection alongside the old XP-style one.
As my title says though, these are just initial impressions — I haven’t even touched any headline new feature yet, IDE Insight excepted. Still, first impressions can count, can’t they?