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Reference Guide for Delphi's Default VCL Components

Posted on 2003-10-28
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Upon purchasing Delphi 7, I was presented with the world of Interface Development. To this end, I am looking for a book that will explain the properties, behaviors, compabilities, and limitations of all the default VCL Components of Delphi 7 Enterprise Edition.

Whether a book, pdf, or reference website, I am game! My only requirement is that it goes into detail on how to actual use each components, what its purpose is, etc.

Standard...Additional...Win32...System...DataAccess...and all!!!

Don't post to tell me that no book or website exists. That comment won't be of any assistance. Thanks.
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Question by:MrWhispers
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by:CrazyOne
ID: 9638057
Not sure if this is precisely the whole package or not but with 992 pages it probably covers good bit of what you asked for.

Mastering Delphi 7
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/078214201X/qid=1067385802/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/002-2150969-5716828?v=glance&s=books#product-details
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by:MrWhispers
ID: 9638203
Have the book and it doesn't touch the VCL Components in any detail. Just says that they are there and moves on to, perspectively, more important things. It uses them, but doesn't explain them. :-)
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by:CrazyOne
ID: 9638244
Bummer
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by:MrWhispers
ID: 9638257
For anyone else who will benefit from this post, in its conclusion, please be mindful that once you do get a hang of Object Pascal [The Delphi Language] and the VCL Components, you will want to pick up Mastering Delphi 7. It's brilliantly written and very thorough. It just is what it is "Mastering". I'm looking for Delphi VCL Components right now. :-)

Still looking for "the" answer...
MrWhispers
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by:snehanshu
snehanshu earned 200 total points
ID: 9638353
I found Delphi's help quite helpful in understanding the components. You get Visal Component Library Reference bundled in.
I feel its worth having a look.
...Snehanshu
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by:MrWhispers
ID: 9638565
I appreciate your comment Snehanshu. :-) The supplied VCL Reference does not  supply "humanspeak". In addition, I can't sit down and read it. It is more like a dictionary then an explaination or guide. Just a confusing as syntax hints.

Truly appreciative and continuing with your answer in mind,
MrWhispers
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by:CrazyOne
ID: 9638609
I am wondering if there is a single book that has all this info. I am wondering if will take a mish mash of several books to get it.  I mean I haven't found any thing researching the web that even comes close. I got to think that somebody documented all this somewhere.
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by:MrWhispers
ID: 9638673
Yeah, my goal is to find such in a pdf, book, or website format. That way, I can study and really grasp each concept as I develop (or prepare to do so).

I was also thinking that if the Delphi Help VCL Reference is in published form with a little more "humanspeak" that may do the trick!

Let me know what you think, in that regard...
MrWhispers
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by:swift99
ID: 9638706
Pick up Delphi in a Nutshell - it is very condensed, but reasonably technical.  It is a good general reference to the tool set.  

Mastering Delphi was a decent introduction to much of the VCL, but it tended to avoid any really technical issues.  Collaborative Computing with Delphi was pretty decent, and it approached Delphi from an angle different from most books.

Ironically, the some of the best books on Delphi computing (IMHO)  do not even mention Delphi - Bitter Java, Design Patterns, and Core Java II Advanced Features were all excellent references for techniques of programming with Delphi.  The caveat with the two java books is that you need to understand the difference between how Delphi and Java handle certain situations that look similar in code, but are implemented very differenly, or you will get bit.
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by:MrWhispers
ID: 9638742
I own "Delphi in a Nutshell" as well. Great book, doesn't even have a fraction of the VCL Components in the INDEX (let alone within the book text itself). Thanks for trying to assist.

Looking forward to more replies,
MrWhispers
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by:snehanshu
ID: 9638785
Hoe about "Delphi Nuts & Bolts for Experienced Programmers"?
The review at amazon says its terrible for experienced programmers ;-) Couldn't find the index anywhere, but who knows: it may help you!
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0078822033/002-1534113-0300827?v=glance
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by:CrazyOne
ID: 9638810
If I am not mistaken that book looks like it was published in April 1996. :)
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by:MrWhispers
ID: 9638844
Does this book include analysis of each VCL Component and is it compatible with Delphi 7? In regards to the components themselves?

Intrigued,
MrWhispers
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by:snehanshu
ID: 9638887
Like I said: I haven't seen the book. Will try to find more and let you know: but it surely won't include  new features/properties etc. introduced in newer Delphi releases.
...S
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geobul earned 250 total points
ID: 9640455
Hi,

Like snehanshu I think that the Visual Component Library Reference is the only reliable source. VCL components are hierarchically organized and I can't imagine how such a reference could be structured another way. Open your Delphi, write down the class names of the components on the Standard palette, then read their descriptions in the reference - purpose, properties, methods, events and hierarchy (all that is there and is written well enough IMHO). Start with TLabel, TEdit and TButton. Define yourself a simple task (two TEdits and a button on a form, a user (you) enters something in Edit1 and when presses the button the entered text appears in Edit2, for example) and make it work in Delphi. Continue with other standard Windows components. Then move to next palette and so on. Learn by examples and mistakes - the best way I know.

Regards, Geo
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by:Wim ten Brink
Wim ten Brink earned 50 total points
ID: 9640664
With Delphi 2 I also got a VCL reference. It was about 1200 pages thick. With Delphi 3 they had split it up into two books, each about 900 pages. I think with Delphi 7 the whole VCL reference could be 5 or 6 books thick, each around 1000 pages. There's just too much in the VCL to compress into one or two books. This is why Delphi comes with a lot of helpfiles.
I know that Borland sells the Delphi printed manuals as a separate product these days, just because they want to save the trees. And I don't blame them because I think each set of manuals needs a whole tree by itself... Personally, I think these printed documents are just the helpfiles on paper... With 5000 pages of paper and three printer cartridges you should be able to get a good, printed version of the helpfiles, I guess.

Just keep in mind that a VCL reference on paper will lead to a huge information overload. I know my D2/D3 references are collecting dus now on my bookshelves. Since there's a new Delphi version at least once every 18 months you won't have time to read that book completely in the first place anyway. And with Delphi 8 you would also need the complete .NET reference which is 7 volumes and several of these volumes are actually pairs of books, making an impressive collection of 11 nice, thick books...
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by:Wim ten Brink
ID: 9640675
Btw. You do have a very useful reference. It's called the VCL sourcecode, which is probably installed with your Delphi installation. Have a look at the source instead and use common sense to discover what each thing is doing. ;-)
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by:snehanshu
ID: 9640719
MrWhispers,
  No matter what you read, eventually, if you want to know any thing worthwhile, the helpfiles would be your best friend and later on the source code itself as Workshop_Alex says :-)
  I guess that's how most Delphi Developers have taught themselves Delphi (Follow geobul's method). So, you could join the club!
  BTW, I guess it would be a good idea to write a VCL reference book: we know there is a market for atleast one book!!
  Cheers,
...Snehanshu

P.S.
  I don't think I'd be able to find more information on "Delphi Nuts & Bolts for Experienced Programmers". Sorry. If somebody does, do post it here.
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by:Wim ten Brink
ID: 9642482
Delphi Nuts & Bolts for Experienced Programmers? I have it. Quite a useless book in my opinion. Publisher: Osborne, ISBN: 0-07-882203-3, printed in 1996 and covers Delphi 1 and 2... $24.95. It's 376 pages thick and the first 168 pages is about very basic programming techniques. It's a nice touch that most screenshots were made on a Windows 95 system although part of the book is about 16-bits software development. This book, like many other books, just wasted one big branch of a tree just to explain the basics of Pascal with it's syntax and the standard Pascal datatypes. It does mention some more interesting topics but once you're beyond the beginners-phase then these things aren't interesting anymore.
My problem is that I started programming in Pascal around 1985. When the first Delphi version appeared on the market I already had 10 years experience in Pascal. So Delphi books that start explaining standard things about the Pascal language are just useless to me. Today I also have about 8 years of Delphi experience. Makes me feel like an old guy, actually. And in all these years I've noticed that it's easier to learn by doing things behind a computer than by picking a book and start reading. I do have a large library of Delphi and Pascal books but unfortunately many of them are outdated already.
I even consider buying the "Delphi 7 Developers Guide" and "Mastering Delphi 7" because these books are one of the few good ones but hey... Before this year ends, Delphi 8 will be available, with it's .NET stuff and a whole lot of new things not mentioned in these books. Making these books outdated around Christmas...
Oh, well... At least the helpfiles will always be a bit more up-to-date. Books are nice as reference or when you're bored on your saturday-night... ;-)
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by:Wim ten Brink
ID: 9642501
Which reminds me... There used to be a "Delphi 3 Super Bible" containing all kinds of information about the VCL components. But perhaps you better look for the "Tomes of Delphi" book series. They are NOT about the VCL but about those things the helpfiles forgot to mention. ;-)
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by:geobul
ID: 9642832
Delphi sources (*.pas files in the source folder) are for experienced users. Very often going deeper there I finally get to asm code and I haven't used assembler since 1989 :-)
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by:Wim ten Brink
ID: 9644868
Yep, the Delphi sources do require a certain amount of experience. But I learned quite a lot myself by examining just the sources. Very educational for the more experienced developers.
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by:MrWhispers
ID: 9646060
Great collaborative response! If anyone ever finds a website which contains the VCL in searchable format or an expansive book, please post such knowledge for the benefit of all.

Appreciative,
MrWhispers
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by:Wim ten Brink
ID: 9656598
That would be the Delphi help files. Take a look at C:\Borland\Delphi7\Help\d7vcl.hlp or wherever you have installed this help file. It is about 28 MB in size with Delphi 7 and contains quite a large overview. It doesn't contain any 3rd-party components but it should contain more than enough information about the VCL.
Normally you'd access this helpfile from Delphi, by pressing F1 when you have a component selected on your form or a keyword in the editor. You could, of course, print this helpfile completely or perhaps convert it to some RTF/Word format/
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by:swift99
ID: 9657602
>> VCL in searchable format

The VCL source is included in Delphi installations (as has been related in several previous notes).  You can't get much more searchable than that.
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