Sunday, 23 February 2014

"Hidden Features of the Delphi IDE" on Stack Overflow - a call for useful answers

Recently Jeroen Pluimers and Jim McKeeth posted about three "Hidden Features of..." questions on Stack Overflow that were either deleted or nominated for deletion.  They are:
The third one was deleted some time ago - this was not the first time I have followed a link to that question and found it deleted.  So I asked it be undeleted, and now it has.  (Turns out it was reopened, but reopening a deleted question doesn't undelete it.)

However, the discussion on my please-reopen question makes a good point: this question does not have many high-quality answers.  The vast majority seem to be sourced from a single keyboard-shortcuts page. Many aren't well formatted. Some are useful, eg little-known timesavers. Some are not. I now feel slightly embarrassed for having asked it be undeleted. As is, in its current state I'd agree it should be closed, although I'd still disagree with the deletion because I don't believe in deleting any useful content.

The same question for other IDEs, such as this one for XCode, shows the level of quality such a question can have and the useful resource answers can be for users of an IDE. I personally find the good "Hidden Features of..." threads amazingly interesting.  So this is a call to action: can we, Delphi users, improve the answers and show that such a question can be worth keeping alive?

(One useful possibility: the question is from 2010.  There have been five versions of Delphi since then.  I think Embarcadero will have added some useful stuff in that time. Let's get it visible!)

Update a couple of hours later: Hidden Features of the Delphi Language (the first link, and a really cool set of answers) has been deleted.  Hidden Features of Oxygene is on hold.  Hidden Features of XCode, a page I used to demonstrate that the Hidden features of IDE X questions can produce high-quality resources, is now locked.  All these have occurred since I asked for the initial question to be reopened.  I am sorry to think that by asking for one question to be undeleted, I may have inadvertently caused great damage to others.

For the IDE Features page: I have edited some posts in the initial question, but the question is now locked and I cannot edit it to provide links to answers, for example, to follow the way this question about Python is organised, suggested in the comments to my undelete request. This means I can't improve the question, and no-one can add new answers.


  1. Have you considered the possibility that there just aren't a bunch of amazing yet unknown features of the Delphi IDE? It's rather infamous among its own users for having long-standing problems.

    >One useful possibility: the question is from 2010. There have been five versions
    >of Delphi since then. I think Embarcadero will have added some useful stuff in
    >that time

    In the language or the framework though? Honestly not much has changed in the language since 2009. Oxygene is new and rapidly evolving but Delphi is not.

    1. It's possible. But I've learned something from the answers to the post (incremental search in the Object Inspector, for example.) I'm sure there are others.

      Its problems, as I understand, are more about bugs than lack of features, and I find the recent versions pretty stable. The problematic IDE versions were last decade.

      As for language features since 2009: what about generics and anonymous methods (both in 2009), and since then enhanced RTTI, casting from interfaces back to objects, weak references, refcounted objects (in the nextgen compiler only), and the stack and code alignment options?

    2. I took most of those from this page, by the way:

  2. I voted to reopen the 1st one (I cannot vote to undelete it) and added a note at the end of the question.
    I stopped hanging out in SO some time ago because of this kind of things. It tends to irritate me...

    1. Thanks Francois.

      At the moment these threads look like a lost cause, and I understand you leaving SO. It's a pity!

  3. As someone graciously pointed out, a lot of these aren't so much hidden features. Most are documented, but are lesser known.

    The topic came up recently in non-tech:

    One of my favourite IDE features was introduced a few versions ago, and I use it all the time. IDE Insight:

    If StackOverflow isn't the best place to have these kinds of discussions, I wonder if it's worth making a larger, more formal list of the changes and advancements that have been introduced and when?

    1. That's a useful thread!

      Re a different list: yes, I think it would be useful! Any idea where it should be - eg, Embarcadero doc, delphi.wikia, a blog (here?), etc?

      I have emailed SO and they said they will send me the contents of the deleted threads, so I can repost them.

  4. I think a wiki page would be the best idea. Something that everyone can contribute to.

    The TIndex page does a really good job, but it doesn't include all versions, and it can be difficult to find things.