01 October 2015

DelphiDabbler.com - Live Or Die?

If you're one of the regular visitors to DelphiDabbler.com then you may have noticed that it's not been updated much over the last year or so. Same goes for this blog, my applications, the code library and the code snippets database.

What it boils down to is this: the time has come to decide whether to continue with the site or not.
 And I need your help to decide.

There are a couple of reasons why I've got to this point. The first is that my interest in music, playing the guitar and recording has resurfaced and it's taking up some of my spare time. The second, and most important, reason is that I'm getting disillusioned with Delphi (the compiler, not the language). I just can't, or won't, keep up with the cost of upgrades.

The problem is that I'm just a hobbyist developer and the cost of staying up to date is getting prohibitive. I feel I'm getting more reward by spending my cash on musical instruments and studio kit than on a constant stream of compiler updates.

I'm not having a pop at Embarcadero here. Amateurs are probably not part of their target group of customers. And if that's true, I can offer no argument as to why we should be! I'm simply commenting that the cost of entry is too rich for me right now.

You'd be staggered to learn quite how many decent quality instruments and bits of studio kit I've paid for just by missing out on a couple of Delphi Pro updates and not upgrading to the Android support module!


Here's where my Delphi XE4 to XE6 update cash went: a stunning Tanglewood koa wood tenor ukulele and an excellent Yamaha bass. There are many more examples like this!

A consequence of all this is that if I'm cutting back on my Delphi development, I need to look at whether the DelphiDabbler website is worth continuing with. After all it's a lot of effort and costs me money to keep going. Donations have been drying up lately, meaning that more of the financial burden falls on me. (Whether the lack of donations is a sign of the website's diminishing relevance or the fact I've not been updating it much is debatable).

There's still time to decide what to do because the domain has been secured up to August 2017 and the web space is paid up to June 2017, but I think that now is an opportune time to start the debate.

I don't want to just pull the plug and waste all the effort that's gone into the site since it started back in 2002. So at the present time, here's what I think I might do to salvage as much as possible:

  • Move all my apps and components etc. wholly onto Github (Git projects) and SourceForge (Subversion projects).
  • Convert the articles and tips into PDF format and put them on GoogleDrive or similar.
  • Close down the SWAG database web app and simply make the database available as a zip file.
  • Close down the Code Snippets Database web app and make the snippets available as a Git project or as Gists on Github.
  • Close down the site Contact page to reduce the amount of email I need to deal with.
  • Cease development of most of my apps, components etc., leaving some in maintenance mode only, with a just a chosen remaining active. I'm likely to keep only my CodeSnip application (in a modified form) and the System Information Unit and Window State Components under active development.
  • When the web space account expires redirect DelphiDabbler.com to some pages on GitHub.
  • When the domain comes up for renewal either let it expire or move to a new cheaper .co.uk domain. Alternatively invite others to take it over.

All the above is up for debate and if there's sufficient interest I may keep a more tightly focussed and easier to maintain version of the site up and running.

The only things that are pretty much fixed at the moment are that I won't give up the music and I won't upgrade Delphi beyond XE4.

In the meantime I may explore the Free Pascal and Lazarus options. However once XE4 becomes so outdated as to be useless, that's likely to be where I bail out.

I'm still considering making the site more mobile friendly for what is potentially its last 18 months of existence.

I need your views


So, what do you think? Any observations will be welcome. I've come to a crossroads and I need some guidance about which way to go.

Please comment. Should I let DelphiDabbler.com die? Should I keep some parts? What's the most useful to you, if anything?

I'd also like to hear from anyone who might like to take over the site and/or domain over?

Delphi XE and ShellExecute glitch

Just encountered a strange bug in one of my programs when running it from the Delphi XE IDE on Windows 10.

Triggering a TBrowseURL action with a valid URL property value causes the program to hang and the default browser (Chrome) is not displayed. The BeforeBrowse event is triggered, but AfterBrowse is not until the program is closed. Sometimes the program hangs and I have to close it with Ctrl+F2.

Running the same code outside the IDE works correctly, but running the program either with or without the debugger in the IDE makes no difference.

I've tracked this down to where TBrowseURL calls ShellExecute from the ShellAPI unit. If I call ShellExecute directly I get the same problem.

I never noticed this problem before when running Windows 7 on my old laptop - it just seems to have started on my new Windows 10 laptop. Still, it's possible the bug was still there on the old machine and I just never noticed it, but I doubt it.

Anyone else had this problem? Any ideas what may be causing it?