Monday, July 11, 2022

Delphi Tip of the Day - Environment Variables used only by the Delphi IDE

 I wanted a quick, down-and-dirty, reference to only those variables used by the Delphi IDE. Inside the IDE you can navigate to Tool > Options > IDE > Environment Variables. This will list all the Environment Variable currently in use. Those belonging to Delph and those outside of Delphi. However, that is not what I was looking for. I just wanted the Environment Variables specific to the Delphi IDE.

Generating this list was a three step process which involved some code I found here. 
http://delphiexamples.com/systeminfo/envtrings.html

Step 1. I entered and ran the code from the above link. I then copied and pasted the contents of the memo to a separate text file called EnVars-Delphi-IDE.txt.

Step 2. I closed Delphi and ran the program again from the saved location. I then copied and pasted the contents of the memo to a file called EnVars-Without-Delphi-IDE.txt.

Step 3. I then navigated to the Delphi BDSBIN location and ran the Beyond Compare utility BCompareLite.exe. I did a text compare of  EnVars-Delphi-IDE.txt and EnVars-Without-Delphi-IDE.txt looking only for the differences.


I simply copied all the text from the left-had side and saved it as EnVars-Delphi-IDE-Only.txt. And know I have my quick down and dirty list of Delphi IDE Environment Variables.

Here the list generated from my computer. YMMV

BDS=C:\program files (x86)\embarcadero\studio\22.0
BDSAppDataBaseDir=BDS
BDSBIN=C:\program files (x86)\embarcadero\studio\22.0\bin
BDSCatalogRepository=C:\Users\Mike\Documents\Embarcadero\Studio\22.0\CatalogRepository
BDSCatalogRepositoryAllUsers=C:\Users\Public\Documents\Embarcadero\Studio\22.0\CatalogRepository
BDSCOMMONDIR=C:\Users\Public\Documents\Embarcadero\Studio\22.0
BDSINCLUDE=C:\program files (x86)\embarcadero\studio\22.0\include
BDSLIB=C:\program files (x86)\embarcadero\studio\22.0\lib
BDSPLATFORMSDKSDIR=C:\Users\Mike\Documents\Embarcadero\Studio\SDKs
BDSPROFILESDIR=C:\Users\Mike\Documents\Embarcadero\Studio\Profiles
BDSPROJECTSDIR=C:\Users\Mike\Documents\Embarcadero\Studio\Projects
BDSUSERDIR=C:\Users\Mike\Documents\Embarcadero\Studio\22.0
DELPHI=C:\program files (x86)\embarcadero\studio\22.0
DEMOSDIR=C:\Users\Public\Documents\Embarcadero\Studio\22.0\Samples
FPS_BROWSER_APP_PROFILE_STRING=Internet Explorer
FPS_BROWSER_USER_PROFILE_STRING=Default
IBREDISTDIR=C:\Users\Public\Documents\Embarcadero\InterBase\redist\InterBase2020
IB_PROTOCOL=developer_ib2020
InterBase=C:\program files (x86)\embarcadero\studio\22.0\InterBase2020
Path=C:\Users\Public\Documents\Embarcadero\InterBase\redist\InterBase2020\IDE_spoof
ProductVersion=22.0
SESSIONNAME=Console

Beyond Compare is a fantastic tool written with Delphi. The lite version is included with your purchase of Delphi. For more information about Beyond Compare visit their website: 

https://www.scootersoftware.com/

Enjoy,
Gunny Mike
https://zilchworks.com




Saturday, June 4, 2022

Delphi Tip of the Day - Auto Adjust FMX StringGrid Column Widths

 I've been playing around with the FMX StringGrid for the past three weeks. And I thought... 

"Wouldn't it be nice if there was a way to automatically resize the column widths based on the values in each of the columns. Just like the way Excel works when you highlight the entire sheet and double-click the thin line between two columns."

In today's Delphi tip of the day I present a simple routine that evaluates the data in each of the column headings and the columns of each row to determine how wide to make the cells. And the best part is, it automatically adjusts all the columns widths in one go.

"Just like the way Excel works..."


It's fairly straight forward using two for loops. It loops through each column looking at every row and determining the width that column needs to be based on the data in each cell.

procedure AutoAdjustColumnWidths(const Grid : TStringGrid);
var
  col : Integer;  //Grid Column
  w   : single;   //New Width
  s   : string;   //Grid Column value
  l   : Integer;  //Lenght of Grid Column value
  row : Integer;  //Grid Row
  r   : Single;   //Result of TextWidth calculation
begin
  for col := 0 to Grid.ColumnCount-1 do
  begin
    w := 0;
    s := Grid.ColumnByIndex(col).Header;
    l := length(s);
    w := Grid.TextWidthToColWidth(l,s) * 1.05; //add a little padding
    for row := 0 to Grid.RowCount-1 do
    begin
      s := Grid.Cells[col,row];
      l := length(s);
      r := Grid.TextWidthToColWidth(l,s) * 1.05; //add a little padding
      if r > w then
        w := r;
    end;
    Grid.Columns[col].Width := w;
  end;
end;

I'm sure this can be improved upon so it only evaluates the first 50 or 100 rows. I'll leave that up to you to figure out.

Enjoy,
Gunny Mike
https://zilchworks.com






Monday, February 21, 2022

Book Review: The Hungry Brain

The Hungry Brain points out how the brain works. The brain (your brain) is conditioned by past food choices and conditions you to make future choices. There are strong cues at play and the stronger ones win. Most of what happens is nonconscious. The author credits Daniel Kahneman, author of "Thinking, Fast and Slow" for the two brain systems. System 1 which is fast, effortless, intuitive, and nonconscious. System 2 which is slow, effortful, rational, and conscious. System 1 usually wins when it comes to food choices.


I was surprised by how food decisions are made in the brain and how the brain continuously reinforces those decisions. I was also stunned to discover how irrational our/my thinking can be. This supports the two systems Kahneman describes. For example; "The 1970 Stanford Marshmallow Experiment" gave children the option of one marshmallow now (which sat on a table right in front of them) or two marshmallows in 15 minutes. The kids were basically given a choice of a small reward now or a larger reward in the future. Most kids ate the one marshmallow right away. We/I tend to value the now more and the future not so much. This is a psychological trait called "delay discounting".

This book is a very technical read

I know I am one of those people who do/did not value my future self. I started smoking cigarettes when I was twelve. As an adult I smoked two and one-half packs of cigarettes a day. One day, after 32 years of smoking, I finally quite "cold turkey". As a smoker I totally discounted my future health. I've been smoke-free for 20+ years. For me, it's time to refocus on my future self and lose the weight. While a brown sugar cinnamon pop tart will definitely give me a 10 minute pleasure high it does not help my future self one bit. 

This book is a very technical read. You could probably get away with reading only chapters 10 and 11. However, you would miss out on some of the little stories sprinkled throughout the other chapters. 


This book has caused me to want to read two other books. The first book, which I purchased, is "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman. I was originally introduced to Kahneman a few years back. I'm very much interested in storytelling and Kahneman links effective storytelling to emotions not rationale. So I am very interested in learning more about the two brain systems. 


The second, which I checked out from the library is "Salt Sugar Fat" by Michael Moss. I've had a tacit understanding that processed foods are the new crack cocaine. I figure by reading this book two things will happen: 

  1. I will change my perspective on processed food and see them for what they truly are. 
  2.  By learning exactly how food scientists tweak the salt, sugar, fat ratios every so slightly to keep their food irresistible, I will view these foods as traps, and see myself for what I really am... nothing more than a commodity (a tick mark on the balance sheet).



Please use the comments to give your recommendations for other, related books worth reading.

Enjoy
Semper Fi
Gunny Mike 

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Book Review: Delphi GUI Programming with FireMonkey (Part 1)

I purchased the book Delphi GUI Programming with FireMonkey by Andrea Magni on November 7, 2020. I dove in head first with great enthusiasm only to get derailed early on. It happened when I tried to follow the topic Understanding the Style Designer in chapter 2.


As someone who knows almost nothing about FireMonkey these four and one-half pages soured my learning and turned me against this book and it's author. I tried reaching out to the author directly and received a curt response basically telling me that the examples in his book were not meant to be step-by-step. From that moment on I let this book sit on the shelf and collect dust.

That was a foolish mistake on my part. 

The Style Designer is a central part of FireMonkey and FMX. It is my opinion, that the author introduced this complex topic much too early in the book. It was presented with just a small smattering of knowledge and guidance. Leading me to three days of frustration because I could not make the Style Designer match what I saw in the book. The style designer is much too complex a topic to simply be glossed over in this fashion. A more fitting title for this topic would be First Glance at the Style Designer.

Don't Judge a Book by Only 4 Pages

If you are new to FMX and FireMonkey, and you want to get the most out of this book, I highly recommend you skip the topic Understanding the Style Designer in Chapter 2 (print: 34-38, pdf: 31-35). No understanding will happen. Instead, I recommend you watch this 50 minute YouTube video by Ray Konopka called Customizing Controls with FMX Styles.


After you have a better understanding of the FMX Style Designer, you may want to come back to the topic Understanding the Style Designer in this book.

You can best sum up my attitude about this book (and it's author) by the phrase "Don't judge a book by only 4 pages". I owe Magni an apology for holding a grudge against him because of 4 stinkin pages (and one email) in a book. 

"Andrea, I'm sorry."

I finally picked up Magni's book (again) last week. Actually I did a search for "Live Bindings" of my digital Delphi books which lead me to pick up Magni's book of the shelf. I opened up to Chapter 4, Discovering Lists and Advanced Components to a huge surprise. The printed copy of my book went from page 104 to page 157. Pages 105 through 156 are missing.

I contacted Packt Publishing to let them know of the misprint. All is good, a new printed copy is on the way.

At this point I was committed and had to fall back on reading the PDF version of Magni's book. I recently had cataract surgery on both eyes so I was very hesitant. Reading PDF books and manuals always leads to eyestrain at best or headaches at worst. That's when I discovered you can customize the background and font colors of a PDF document. See my post "Tip of the Day - How to change the text color of a PDF document" for instructions on how to do this.

I'm only part way through Chapter 4: Discovering Lists and Advanced Components and so far, Magni had done a fairly descent job. I have downloaded the source code for this book. I find it very helpful to have Delphi up and running along side reading the customized PDF. I open the example projects and play along with the reading to get a better understanding. 

Magni has done a a great job organizing the source code for this book. There is a separate chapter containing projects for each chapter. Each project within a given chapter has it's own folder. It is very well organized. The folders seem to be named intuitively. However, I find it very helpful to rename each folder and preface each folder name with the page number. That way I can quickly associate which project goes with with page or section of the book. As a plus, any un-numbered folders means I haven't opened that project and most likely haven't read that section of the book in detail.


I'm not sure when or if I will get finished with Magni's book. I'm just glad I overcame my stubbornness and opened his book back up again. I do know I have a need to and look forward to learning the following:

  • Chapter 4 Discovering Lists and Advanced Components
    •  ListBox
    •  ListViews
    •  Treeviews
    •  Grids
  • Chapter 5 Using FireDAC in FMX Applications
  • Chapter 6 Implementing Data Binding
  • Chapter 7 Understanding FMX Style Concept
  • Chapter 8 Divide and Conquer with TFrameStand (Maybe)

Bottom Line: Buy this book. Skip pages 34-38 (print), 31-35 (pdf).

Semper Fi,
Gunny Mike
zilchworks.com

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Tip of the Day - How to change the text color of a PDF document.

I was reading Andrea Magni's book Delphi GUI Programming with FireMonkey and realized I am missing pages 105-156. Packt Publishing is having a new print copied sent to me. Anyway, the PDF copy of the book is 100% complete.
I've always dreaded having to read PDF books for two reasons:
  • I don't like the way the pages jump from one page to another
  • The standard black text on a white background hurts my eyes and makes them tired.
I recently discovered two things you can change about PDF books (documents) that have made a huge difference for me. 

One is smooth scrolling. I thought that all pdf's jumped from the bottom of the page to the top of the next page. Not true. This is a setting. 

The second thing I discovered is the ability to change the color of the text within a pdf document. The standard black text on white background rally hurts my eyes. By changing the background and text color it is much more enjoyable to read.

This video shows you how to set smooth scrolling and change the text and background colors within a PDF document.


Enjoy,
Gunny Mike


Wednesday, December 15, 2021

FMX Desktop - Restrict Form Size on Windows and macOS

I'm in the process of porting over an old VCL application to FMX. At this time I'm only concerned with creating a desktop application that will run on Windows and macOS. One of the VCL features I like is the ability to set the forms minimum width and height properties. This prevents the user from making the application ridiculously small and unusable.

With a VCL application this is accomplished by simply entering the desired values in the MinHeight and MinWidth properties of the forms Constraints. The example below sets the VCL forms minimum height to 540 and the minimum width to 720.

Unfortunately, these properties do not exist within FMX Muilti-Device applications. In order to impose size constraints in FMX you have to write some code in the OnResize event handler. 

The simplest way to accomplish this would be to right some code similar to this:

const
  MinW = 720;
  MinH = 540;
begin
  if Width  < MinW then Width  := MinW;
  If Height < MinH then Height := MinH;
end;

This works. However it produces a horrible flickering effect when you continue to drag the mouse inside the boundaries specified within the OnResize event handler.

Windows Form Constraints with Flickering


What about the macOS? Does it flicker? The answer is no. The macOS respects the size constraints with no flickering issue:

macOS Form Constraints no Flickering


So the issue only happen on Windows PC's. 

I may be oversensitive here but I do not like this flickering at all. In my mind it gives the sense of an unprofessional appearance. Some end users may not care one bit about this and that's fine. However, it really bugs me. I want to prevent this from happening.

So I went looking for a solution and found one on stackoverflow. The code simulates a mouseUp event if the cursor moves inside the boundaries.

Windows Form Constraints with No Flickering

This is accomplished by making a Windows API Mouse Event call inside the OnResize event handler. It's not perfect but it does prevent the flickering from happening.

Add this to the Uses clause
Winapi.Windows

Modify the onResize event handler to simulate the mouseUp event.

const
  MinW = 720;
  MinH = 540;
begin
  if Width < MinW then 
  begin
    Width := MinW;
    mouse_event(MOUSEEVENTF_ABSOLUTE or MOUSEEVENTF_LEFTUP, 0, 0, 0, 0);
  end;
  If Height < MinH then 
  begin
    Height := MinH;
    mouse_event(MOUSEEVENTF_ABSOLUTE or MOUSEEVENTF_LEFTUP, 0, 0, 0, 0);
  end;
end;

This code works great! It stops Windows PC's from flickering. However, we are not done yet. We have to wrap special tags around the Windows Only code so it is ignored by the macOS.

Modify the Uses clause as follows:

uses
{$IFDEF MSWINDOWS}
  Winapi.Windows,
{$ENDIF}
  System.SysUtils, System.Types, System.UITypes, System.Classes, 
  System.Variants, FMX.Types, FMX.Controls, FMX.Forms, FMX.Graphics, 
  FMX.Dialogs, FMX.Controls.Presentation, FMX.StdCtrls;

Modify the onResize event handler as follows

procedure TForm1.FormResize(Sender: TObject);
const
  MinW = 720;
  MinH = 540;
begin
  if Width < MinW then 
  begin
    Width := MinW;
    {$IFDEF MSWINDOWS}
      //prevent form flickering on resize below constraints
      mouse_event(MOUSEEVENTF_ABSOLUTE or MOUSEEVENTF_LEFTUP, 0, 0, 0, 0);
    {$ENDIF}  
  end;
  If Height < MinH then 
  begin
    Height := MinH;
    {$IFDEF MSWINDOWS}
      //prevent form flickering on resize below constraints
      mouse_event(MOUSEEVENTF_ABSOLUTE or MOUSEEVENTF_LEFTUP, 0, 0, 0, 0);
    {$ENDIF}  
  end;
end;

Stay tuned for more FMX Desktop discoveries. 

Related Articles:
What Every Delphi Developer Should Know About Writing for Windows and Mac

Enjoy
Semper Fi
Gunny Mike
https://zilchworks.com

end.

Friday, December 3, 2021

The Biggest Mistake I Made in 2021

 I know this year isn't over yet but I'm pretty sure I won't make a bigger mistake between now and January 1st. 

Mike has been selling a software product written in Turbo Pascal & Delphi for 30 years. Mike's software was mentioned on the television show Good Morning America. Mike got very excited. Mike updated his website making the 30-second Good Morning America television segment center stage. Nobody cares Mike's software got mentioned on television (except Mike). Mike turned off potential customers who visited his website. Mike's sales dropped. Mike's a jerk. Don't be like Mike.

This was one of the hardest lessons I learned. 

I was so sure my would-be customers would feel just as excited about my software getting praise on national television as me. So sure in fact, that I posted a video of my software getting mentioned front and center on my website. And not just on the home page... but on every page.

Wrong! 

People don't care about me. People care about themselves.

People don't care about you.
People care about themselves.

It was Saturday morning, August 21, 2021. I was sitting on the couch in my living room watching cartoons with my granddaughter. And my phone dinged. I received an notification of a sale. A few minutes later another ding, another sale. I checked the real-time website stats and to my surprise there were 53 visitors on my site all at the same time.

I started googling trying to figure out what was causing this frenzy of visitors to my website. And by luck I found a video segment that had just aired on the Good Morning America television show. 

The total segment was about 4 minutes long. The last 35-40 seconds is where my software ZilchWorks was mentioned. So I trimmed the video down to the last 40 seconds because that's the part that talked about my software. Proof again that people only care about themselves. Why else would I have trimmed down this video.

I then retooled my entire website and made this "Look what I can do" video front and center. I foolishly thought this would drawn in website visitors.

Lessons Learned:

  • People don't care about you. They care about themselves.
  • Customers want to know what you can do for them.
  • Enjoy the media success. Treat it as validation.
  • This too shall pass applies to both good and bad.

Enjoy!
Semper Fi,
Gunny Mike