Delphi 2010 — initial impressions

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?

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14 thoughts on “Delphi 2010 — initial impressions

  1. I’d like the floating layout too… and experienced the same problem that the window positions are not save correctly. Until now I thought that some of my PC configuration is wrong, now I know that it is a bug.

    Please Embarcadero: fix it!

    • Glad to know I’m not the only one! I find D2010 makes the problem slightly worse compared to D2009 by dint of the default ‘undocked’ layout hiding the tool pallete and showing the retro component bar, so whenever I switch back to it, the tool palette disappears. Urgh!

  2. If you’re having trouble find the demos you could pay closer attention to the installation process which as part of the standard install asks you where you want the demos to be placed.

    • Right, but the default is still in a hard-to-find location. Think of a person who is new to the product and who really wants to find them quickly – a link in the Welcome page wouldn’t hurt surely? On the other hand, given the demos themselves could do with some serious looking at, maybe it’s just as well they’re hard to find! 😉 Again, my point here is in imagining what a new user would think — not only are the demos hard to find, but they’re of variable quality when you do find them. To raise another demos-related thing — where’s the cool gestures demo? For sure, when I went to play around with the new gesturing support, I found it easy and intuitive to use — but that’s only because it’s been added in a very natural way to the existing VCL (which is good of course!), and I’m a fairly experienced user of the VCL.

  3. The IDE is fast, and, you’ll appreciate this more when you get this far, if you can work all day in Delphi 2010, because you’ve got one of your major apps to build, along with all its components, in Delphi 2010, it will actually run all day without crashing horribly. Something delphi 2007 has trouble with, and delphi 2009 does pretty well. With the number of QC fixes that went into Delphi 2010, I think the overall improvements will take quite a long time to register with most users.

    I agree with you about the way the check-for-updates feature is brain dead. That’s a valid criticism. Other people have found that with UAC turned on, they have trouble, in Vista, with that stupid check-for-updates thing, too. I would rather have check-for-updates be buried in a menu and not have it launch every time I run the ide. Bad idea.

    I too wish the demos were more thorough and contained some new stuff. The ever increasingly stupidly named “cool stuff” demo folder is a reminder of the fact that the demos are mostly from the Delphi 5 through 7 era.

    I think a few new demos of complete applications that (a) use the ribbon, (b) use action main menu bar, and action manager, (c) use the standard vista dialogs, and look up to date on Vista/Win7, are called for.

    There are demos for RTTI, and Direct2D but no TOUCH demos. Tell me that’s not an oversight. 🙂

    W

    • I agree with everything you say, except for your claim that many of the demos date from as many moons ago as D5, since some date from D1!

  4. Pingback: Better than you’ve been told… « Source Code Adventures

  5. Hello everyone,
    I just want to point out that delphi 2010 is not worthing the time to install(~ 30 min on a dual core 2.8 GHZ, 2 GB RAM) for the feauters that it involves, I mean, why should we(developers) upgrade to the new version if Delphi 7 is better, freepascal has almost all feauters implemented(or will have by the end of this year)?

    • Hi Nick — just thinking aloud, but how about organising a demo-creating competition for the next release? I’m sure that would cost less corporate money than getting Embarcadero employers to do the deed — just set some basic parameters (e.g., maximum lines of code, fitting into a distinct category, not using the WinAPI if not explicitly demoing that, using the provided GlyxFX icons and turning on theming for VCL demos, etc.) and get the community to do the work.

  6. Hi CR – you mentioned the new ribbon control. I am using D2009 here and you are right – the D2009 Ribbon isn’t finished yet. Can you tell me something about the improvements in D2010? Is there a way to customize the height of the Ribbon ?

    thanks

    • ‘Is there a way to customize the height of the Ribbon ?’

      Don’t know, sorry – I’ve only used the trial. I would guess not though, since the height (derived from the number of button rows) is specified in the spec MS provide. Basically, in order to use a ribbon control in a commercial app, you have to get a licence (albeit a free one) from MS, which means ribbon implementors – like CodeGear/Embarcadero – aren’t allowed to make their ribbon controls too flexible, else their customers couldn’t get the necessary licence.

      More generally, the main improvement I remember (and a rather necessary one at that) was doing the title bar properly when running on Vista/W7.

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