The only new feature in MMX

The move of MMX turned out to be very welcomed in the Delphi community. Over 3000 downloads during the first 48 hours are just overwhelming and unfortunately led to some interim drop outs of the web server. Apologies for that. I will talk to the web hoster about this and see if we can get this a bit more stable in the future.

The original plan was to release with the exact same feature set as the then current version of MMX with just the licensing removed and all the references to ModelMaker Tools BV rewired to the new home. Well, that didn’t work out exactly like that. There is one new little feature in V13 that somehow slipped through. I doubt that many of you long time users found it unless you actually scrutinized the option dialog, so let me explain what it is and what it does.

This is a screenshot of the Pascal Sorting options dialog with the checkbox Group and sort uses highlighted. With this option checked any Format Uses Clause action (default Ctrl-Alt-U) will resolve unit aliases and expand unit scope names. Then units are grouped by scope names and sorted by group in the order given by the projects options scope names entry. For example:

will be changed to

As with the original uses clause formatting this works only when there are no conditional defines inside the uses clause.

I implemented this feature more as a exercise to become familiar with the code and somehow forgot to exclude it from the release. It also is not fully complete, because the only way to influence the grouping and order is to adjust the unit scope names of the project, where a project specific settings file (or a new entry in the dproj file) would be more appropriate. So I guess this will be completed in one of the next releases.

Now as it is public I hope it might be useful for some of you.

A New Home for ModelMaker Code Explorer™

I am very pleased to announce that as of today I am going to take over the award winning ModelMaker Code Explorer™ from ModeMaker Tools BV.

For over two decades ModelMaker Code Explorer™ is still an indispensable add-on to the Delphi IDE for numerous developers. Speaking for myself, a Delphi installation is simply incomplete without MMX. The benefit in using it always outweighed the price of this tool in magnitudes.

With ModelMaker Tools BV concentrating on its Mind Mapping tool SimpleMind, further development and distribution of MMX is now completely in my hands. To emphasize the movement away from ModelMaker Tools BV there will be a slight change in the name: ModelMaker Code Explorer™ will become MMX Code Explorer from now on, still shortened as MMX. The new website can be found here: https://www.mmx-delphi.de/

As a first and probably widely welcomed benefit MMX will be available for free with immediate effect. This allows even all hobbyist developers with a tight budget to make use of this tool. MMX will nevertheless stay closed source, though.

The first free release 13.0 is more or less the same as the current commercial release 12.3 in regard to functionality with all the licensing removed and (hopefully) all references to ModelMaker Tools BV changed to new targets. Alas, the Delphi 5 and 6 versions didn’t make it into this transition, as they would have required too much special treatment. The current release thus supports Delphi 7, Delphi 2007 – 2010, Delphi XE – XE8, Delphi 10 Seattle, Delphi 10.1 Berlin and Delphi 10.2 Tokyo.

My plans for the coming releases are mostly:

  • cleaning up the code base (f.i. remove all C# related code)
  • restructuring the code while removing dependencies where possible
    (we all have our own ideas when it comes to architecture, don’t we?)
  • updating the documentation and examples (videos)
  • supporting new Delphi releases (goal is from day one on if not even beta)
  • better support of newer language features
  • implementing some ideas I collected over the last years

I am not going to conceal that this will most likely lead to drop support for older Delphi versions in favor of making maintenance easier. The latest MMX supporting those retired versions will nevertheless be available for download even after that.

Finally I want to say a big THANK YOU to Gerrit Beuze from ModelMaker Tools BV for his generosity and invaluable support in the past and during this transition.

Will MMX live long and prosper!

Keep Your Project Files Clean With Project Magician

This is sitting on my desktop for quite a while waiting that I find the time to write this blog post. So now be it.

In the past a couple of you have downloaded and probably also used my DprojNormalizer IDE plugin. Well, I have to say that I am not going to update that plugin any longer. But don’t hesitate – a replacement product will  be available with some interesting features added: Project Magician

DprojNormalizer as well as DprojSplitter are one-purpose plugins. If they are installed, they do their jobs. No switches, no settings inside the IDE, although DprojSplitter respects an optional configuration file. Both plugins can be installed side by side without one interfering with the other.

Although this lean approach has some advantages, it also has some drawbacks: a good portion of the code is similar and the IDE events handled are almost the same. But the most prominent issue I have with these one-purpose plugins is: I am running out of proper icons.

This was the birth of Project Magician which combines the features of DprojNormalizer and DprojSplitter adding some new features that roughly fall into the same area.

In contrast to both other plugins Project Magician now has settings inside the IDE. Have a look at the settings form for the Project Magician project itself.

The settings are grouped in four different areas.

Project file settings contains the Normalize and Split entries, which resemble the already know behavior of DprojNormalizer and DprojSplitter. The third option in this group allows to remove the Excluded Packages entries from the project file. Usually this entry is unnecessary and depends on the local installation often causing trouble on commits. It will be re-created automatically with default settings when a project is opened.

Clear Settings in Child Configurations probably needs some words of explanation. Sometimes the inheritance of project settings as implemented in the IDE is not wanted and leads to a lot of work or unexpected results. For instance, having different version info values for each build configuration is rarely required. Changes made to one configuration are not visible in others. In addition inheritance doesn’t work well with these either. Changes in the base configuration have no effect if values in depending configurations exist.

That said, the Version info option clears all settings made in child configurations and only keeps the settings in the base configuration. In case of a pure Windows project this actually is the base configuration, while for mixed OS projects each platforms base configuration serves as a basis. Note that the Module attributes are excluded from the clearing so that each build configuration can have its own attributes.

Application Settings are always platform specific and thus the settings in the platform base configuration are the ones kept. The settings targeted here are Icons, Manifest File, Output Settings and Appearance.

Package Settings affect Prefix, Suffix and Version as well as the Description and the Never Build option. Needless to say that Package Settings are only enabled for packages while Application Settings have only a meaning for applications.

When upgrading a project from a previous Delphi version it sometimes happens that you cannot add platforms even if they are available in the IDE. This is where Enable Missing Platforms steps in, enabling all platforms known to the current Delphi version, even if they are currently not available for your SKU. Although you still can only add those platforms provided by your IDE, the other platforms can later be enabled on systems that include them.

Projects that are only useful for some platform and will never be used on others (like f.i. design time packages) are nevertheless cluttered with platform specific entries for these never be used platforms. When the Remove Unused Platforms option is set Project Magician will remove those entries resulting in a much cleaner project file. This doesn’t remove the ability to add those platforms to the project later.

Maintaining packages for different Delphi versions requires to use a decent LIBSUFFIX to distinguish the bpl-files for each version (see Delphi Library Guidelines). Creating the project files for a new Delphi version usually involves copying those from the previous version to a new folder and adjusting the LIBSUFFIX entries. The Auto LibSuffix option eliminates the last step.

Sometimes the FormType entries in the project file are missing. This leads to the fact that during design time one cannot instantiate frames affected by this. The  Refresh Form Type functionality restores the missing entries when opening a project.

As you may notice there are settings for different scopes: global, project group and project. Settings are inherited from the next higher scope and can only be activated in a lower scope, but not deactivated. Take care when activating settings on global level! In the example above Refresh Form Type and Remove Unused Platforms are set on project group level.

The global settings can alternatively set from the Tools – Options dialog. The Project Manager options can be found in the Third Party branch.

Only as part of the global options you have access to the Clean Line Feeds feature. When opening dpr, dpk, pas or inc files any invalid line feed sequence (like single <CR> or <LF> alone) will be converted to a proper <CR><LF> sequence.

Project Magician comes with a command line application that allows to execute most of the tasks done by the plugin from the command line. It is named ProjectMagicianCmd.exe and resides in the installation folder (default: %ProgramFiles(x86)%\ProjectMagician).

The general usage is:
ProjectMagicianCmd [-v:<version> | -n | -r | -x | -f] [<filepath>]<filename> [-l:<logfile>] [-s]

The parameters have the following meaning:
-v = Sets VersionInfo in dproj files to a given value. Clears all version info entries in child build configurations.
<version> up to 4 numbers separated by dots

-n = Normalize

-r = Removes unused platforms

-x = Removes “Excluded Packages”

-f = Refreshes and adds missing form type entries

<filename> may contain wildcards. If no extension is given .dproj is assumed

Project Magician can be downloaded here:  Project Magician

Currently Delphi XE3 to 10.2 Tokyo are supported.

Another Update for DprojNormalizer

There are weeks when bug findings are just going to agglomerate. Fixing them as soon as possible then leads to multiple releases in a short time frame. Sorry about that (well, not really), but nothing comes without a price to pay.

Another small update for  DprojNormalizer is available. This one is only relevant when you have quite a number ( > 10 ) of build configurations in your project, where the hierarchy sometimes gets broken after normalizing.

Thanks to Tobias Reißenweber for bringing that to my attention.

Update: This turned out to be way more complex as expected! V2.2.3 should be the version to go. The good news is, that I learned a lot about the internal assumptions made by the IDE developers.

Update for DprojNormalizer

There is a small update for DprojNormalizer available. The only change is that the entry for SanitizedProjectName is moved to the beginning of the property group. This allows the use of this variable in subsequent properties.

I stumbled upon this when working on a project where $(SanitizedProjectName) is used in the DCU output path to have different DCU paths for each project inside a project group. This reduces the chance of linking the wrong DCU files when working with different conditional defines or settings between projects sharing some source files.

Although this definitely worked some time ago, this entry now resolves to an empty string. The reason is the changed sorting of the dproj file due to the use of DprojNormalizer. The system tries to resolve the DCU output path while SanitizedProjectName is still not defined yet.

BTW, I know it has been rather quiet here during the last few months. Rest assured there are some nice things cooking in the labs, so stay tuned.