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

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.

Gunny Mike