Delphi Programming Guide
Delphi Programmer 

Menu  Table of contents

Part I - Foundations
  Chapter 1 – Delphi 7 and Its IDE
  Chapter 2 – The Delphi Programming Language
  Chapter 3 – The Run-Time Library
  Chapter 4 – Core Library classes
  Chapter 5 – Visual Controls
  Chapter 6 – Building the User Interface
  Chapter 7 – Working with Forms
Part II - Delphi Object-Oriented Architectures
  Chapter 8 – The Architecture of Delphi Applications
  Chapter 9 – Writing Delphi Components
  Chapter 10 – Libraries and Packages
  Chapter 11 – Modeling and OOP Programming (with ModelMaker)
  Chapter 12 – From COM to COM+
Part III - Delphi Database-Oriented Architectures
  Chapter 13 – Delphi's Database Architecture
  Chapter 14 – Client/Server with dbExpress
  Chapter 15 – Working with ADO
  Chapter 16 – Multitier DataSnap Applications
  Chapter 17 – Writing Database Components
  Chapter 18 – Reporting with Rave
Part IV - Delphi, the Internet, and a .NET Preview
  Chapter 19 – Internet Programming: Sockets and Indy
  Chapter 20 – Web Programming with WebBroker and WebSnap
  Chapter 21 – Web Programming with IntraWeb
  Chapter 22 – Using XML Technologies
  Chapter 23 – Web Services and SOAP
  Chapter 24 – The Microsoft .NET Architecture from the Delphi Perspective
  Chapter 25 – Delphi for .NET Preview: The Language and the RTL
  Appendix A – Extra Delphi Tools by the Author
  Appendix B – Extra Delphi Tools from Other Sources
  Appendix C – Free Companion Books on Delphi
  List of Figures    
  List of tables    
  List of Listings    
  List of Sidebars  

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Refactoring Your Code

Refactoring is one of those trendy terms in computer programming that is constantly bandied about, but that means different things to different people. Refactoring is basically the process of improving your existing code in place without altering its external behavior. There is no single refactoring process to which you must adhere—it's simply the task of trying to improve your code in place without breaking too much around it.

Many texts are dedicated to the concept of refactoring, so I will simply look at some of the specific ways ModelMaker can assist you in refactoring your code. Again, ModelMaker's internal code model plays a big role—remember that developing in ModelMaker is not just development of object-oriented code; it's also a development process that is assisted by object orientation. Because all these code model elements are stored internally as objects—objects that have references to each other—and because source code units are completely regenerated from this model every time you choose to generate your code, any changes to the code elements are propagated throughout your classes instantly.

The perfect example is again a class property. If you have a property named MyNewProperty with attending read/write methods (maintained by ModelMaker and named GetMyNewProperty and SetMyNewProperty), and you would like to rename the property MyProperty, doing so requires only one step: rename the property. ModelMaker takes care of the rest—the access methods are automatically renamed GetMyProperty and SetMyProperty. If the property appears in a diagram, the diagram is automatically updated to represent the change. (One caveat: ModelMaker will not automatically search your code for instances of MyNewProperty—you'll have to do this with a global search and replace within ModelMaker.) This is a simple example, but it illustrates how ModelMaker simplifies the task of refactoring; as you move and rename code elements, ModelMaker will handle the majority of the details for you. Now let's look at some specifics:

Simple Renaming  This task is quite simple and we've already touched on it, but its usefulness cannot be overstressed. Code model element name changes are propagated by ModelMaker through the code model to all instances of that element of which it is aware.

Reparenting Classes  This absurdly simple process can be done a number of different ways. Most commonly, you can simply drag a class in the Classes view from one parent node to another (you can also do this in a class diagram by dragging the generalization arrow from the old parent to the new parent)—now your class has a new parent. If inheritance is restricted, ModelMaker will automatically update the child class's inherited methods to match the new parent's declarations. The next time you generate your code, these changes will automatically appear.

Moving Classes between Units  It is also simple to move a class to a new unit. In the Units view, drag the class from its current place to the new unit. All relevant code (declarations, implementations, and comments) will be regenerated in the new unit.

Moving Members between Classes  In refactoring, this process is known as "moving features (or responsibilities) between objects." The idea is simple: as development progresses, you may discover that certain responsibilities (implemented as class members) are more appropriately moved to another class. You can do sousing drag and drop. Select the desired class members from the member list and drag them to the new class in the Classes (hold down the Shift key to move rather than copy).

Converting Members  This is one of ModelMaker's niftier refactoring features. Right-clicking on a member in the Member List will display the context menu that contains the Convert To menu item and subitems. Selecting one of these subitems lets you convert an existing class member from one member type to another. For instance, if you have a private field named FMyInteger, and you opt to convert it to a property, ModelMaker automatically creates a public property named MyInteger, which reads from and writes to FMyInteger. Likewise, you can convert this field into a method—it will be a private function named MyInteger that returns an integer.

Restricted Inheritance  In the method editor dialog is an Inheritance Restricted check box. When this box is checked, ModelMaker does not allow you to change most of the method's attributes, because those attributes are being set based on the ancestor class's implementation of the overridden method. If you change the declaration of a method in an ancestor class, those changes will automatically be applied in any descendant classes where the overriding method is set to restricted inheritance.

If you have experience in refactoring (or you are familiar with the latest versions of JBuilder), this may not seem like a particularly impressive set of refactoring tools. However, when compared to what is possible in Delphi alone, this is a wonderful collection of possibilities. In addition, ModelMaker's OpenTools API gives you access to most of the code model. If you're discontented with what ModelMaker offers out of the box, you can extend its refactoring capabilities on your own.


Additionally, I can clandestinely say that I've seen beta versions (at the time of this writing) of a future release of ModelMaker that contain sets of new refactoring tools. Most of them are pulled straight from Martin Fowler's book on refactoring, and they are impressive.

Applying Design Patterns

ModelMaker puts it all together impressively in its support of design patterns. (A full discussion of design patterns is beyond the scope of this chapter; however, if you're unfamiliar with patterns, see the sidebar "Design Patterns 101" for a short introduction.) ModelMaker provides the convenience of applying a pattern implementation with a single mouse click. Depending on the pattern you select, a variety of actions take place—some patterns display a wizard before adding code, and others simply add their members to the selected class. As I've discussed earlier, these new members are owned by ModelMaker and are easily updated as a result. In addition, should you choose to un-apply the pattern, ModelMaker removes any class members it added for that pattern.

As an example, let's look at the Singleton pattern. Suppose you have a class and you want only one instance of it at most. Here is the sample class:

  TOneTimeData = class (TObject)
    FGlobalCount: Integer;
    procedure SetGlobalCount(const Value: Integer);
    property GlobalCount: Integer read FGlobalCount write SetGlobalCount;

The Singleton pattern mandates the use of a single entry point (the class function Instance in the ModelMaker implementation of this pattern, as seen next) to gain access to your single instance of the class. If the instance does not yet exist, it will be created and returned; otherwise the existing instance will be returned. Because Instance is the entry point, you'll disallow the use of Create for this class. Once you apply the Singleton pattern to your class in ModelMaker, it appears thus:

  TOneTimeData = class (TObject)
    FGlobalCount: Integer;
    procedure SetGlobalCount(const Value: Integer);
    constructor CreateInstance;
    class function AccessInstance(Request: Integer): TOneTimeData;
    constructor Create;
    destructor Destroy; override;
    class function Instance: TOneTimeData;
    class procedure ReleaseInstance;
    property GlobalCount: Integer read FGlobalCount write SetGlobalCount;

I won't list the method implementations here; you can look them up either by applying the pattern yourself, or by looking up the source code of the PatternDemo example.


The code used by ModelMaker to implement the Singleton patterns is based on the interesting use of a constant within a method to mimic per-class data. However, this code fails to compile unless you enable the Assignable Typed Constants Delphi compiler option, which is disabled by default.

ModelMaker offers implementations of several other patterns, including Visitor, Observer, Wrapper, Mediator, and Decorator. They are hard-coded within ModelMaker to be applied a specific way, and some of the implementations are better than others. This has been a point of contention among some developers, and for that reason (among others) ModelMaker supports another means of applying patterns: code templates (discussed in the next section). This approach allows creation and customization on the part of the developer. However, don't overlook ModelMaker's extant support for patterns; they're quite good and offer a fixed, solid, working, Delphi-specific implementation of these common problems.

Code Templates

Yet another powerful feature in ModelMaker (which is seemingly lost, tucked in among the myriad other conveniences) is code templates, a technique you can use to create your own implementations of design patterns. Code templates are like a snapshot of part of a class that can be applied to another class. In other words, it's a collection of class members, saved in a template that can be added to another class, en masse. Better still, these templates can be parameterized (much like macros) so that when you apply one to a class, a dialog will pop up to ask you to fill in certain values, which are then applied as part of the template.

One example is an array property. Declaring an array property is simple in ModelMaker, but completely implementing one requires several steps: You must have not only the array property itself, but also a TList or descendant to contain the array elements, and a means of supplying a count of the stored elements. Even for this simple example, it takes a bit of work to get your array property up and running. Enter the array property template. Open a model in ModelMaker (or create a new model and add a TObject descendant) and select a class to which you'd like to add your new array property. Right-click in the Member List and select Code Templates. There should now be a floating toolbar named Code Templates (note that this same toolbar is available in the Patterns tab). Click the Apply Array Property Template button to open the Code Template Parameters dialog. It contains a list of items you can specify for the template that is about to be applied, as you can see in Figure 11.10. You can highlight any item in the left column and press F2 to edit the value for that parameter. Accept the defaults and click OK.

Click To expand
Figure 11.10:  ModelMaker's Code Template Parameters dialog box

Your class should now contain the following members:

  FItems: TList;
  function GetItemCount: Integer;
  function GetItems(Index: Integer): TObject;
  property ItemCount: Integer read GetItemCount;
  property Items[Index: Integer]: TObject read GetItems;

You can see how flexible this technique can be. Other common tasks (like strongly typed lists) and your own implementations of design patterns are easily implemented; let's see how.

To create your own code template, begin with an existing class that already has the members you wish to turn into a template. Select that class, and then, in the Member List, select the members you wish to use (these can be any type of member). Right-click in the Member List and select Create Code Template; the Save Code Template dialog will appear. It is much like a standard Save As dialog (and you do specify where to save the template), but you can also detail how you'd like the template to appear. Specify a name for the template and on which page of the template palette you wish it to appear. Take note of the resulting confirmation message; you can change the palette bitmap if you wish.

Your new template is now available in the template palette; you can add this template to any class. To parameterize your template, you must alter the PAS file that was created when you saved the template. For example, here is part of the ArrayProp_List.pas file used for the Array Property template:

unit ArrayProp_List;
//DEFINEMACRO:Items=name of array property
//DEFINEMACRO:TObject=type of array property
//DEFINEMACRO:ItemCount=Method returning # items
//DEFINEMACRO:FItems=TList Field storing items
  TCodeTemplate = class (TObject)
    <!FItems!>: TList;
    function Get<!ItemCount!>: Integer;
    function Get<!Items!>(Index: Integer): <!TObject!>;
    property <!ItemCount!>: Integer read Get<!ItemCount!>;
    property <!Items!>[Index: Integer]: <!TObject!> read Get<!Items!>;

Notice the lines that begin with //DEFINEMACRO. This is where you declare your parameters; they will appear in the Code Template Parameters dialog you saw earlier. Each line is a Name/ Value pair: the element on the left of the = is the editable value, and the element on the right is a description you can provide to explain the parameter.

After you supply a list of parameters, they can be used as macros in your template code. Note in the example lines like this:

property <!Items!>[Index: Integer]: <!TObject!> read Get<!Items!>;

When this property is added to a class as part of the template, the macros (things like <!Items!>) will be replaced with the value of the appropriate parameter. In this way, you can use parameters to deeply customize your code templates.

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