matthew-jones.com

Ramblings from a developer

With the security updates for the OpenSSL project that come out, I started to face an issue as a developer who uses them in projects that I develop. I get an update, and I need to make sure that the new DLLs are put into the “distribution” directories for the projects, so that next time they are built the new DLL will be included “automatically”. But my projects are all over the place, and manually finding and remembering which ones to update is time consuming. Sure, I can use a search tool, but that leave the “go to the location and paste the files”.

So I wrote a tool to scan my disks and tell me which version is in situ. And then, if I want, to update them. The optional part is important because not all applications should be updated – there may be incompatibilities. An update is now much easier. You can put the new files, “ssleay32.dll” and “libeay32.dll” in the same directory as the updater if you want. It will create a “fileoptions.xml” file in the same directory too (so don’t put the updater in Program Files or other similar reduced access rights directory). The folders to scan can be separated with a semi-colon, so “C:;D:” will scan the C and D drives. Note that there must be a trailing ”. Then scan (it is a background thread for speed). Click to select any you wish to update, and it will do so.

Supplied as-is.

Screen shot of Open SSL updater

Download the OpenSSL updater here

One thing I often ponder is why I like the RemObjects SDK for my developments, when things like REST are “free” and perhaps more standard. The simple answer is that my code looks just like any other code I write. For this example, I have written a demonstration “chat” application. You log in, you can post messages, and you get all the messages from the server. This is the procedure that sends a message to the server:

procedure TfrmLogin.SendMessage(szMessage : String);
begin 
  m_xChatService.SendMessage(szMessage, SendMessageComplete, OnLinkError);
end;

There’s no building up a URL, no encoding of parameters. Just a normal function call to a class member. If this wasn’t a WebBuilder function, I’d not have the SendMessageComplete callback – it would just wait until the call returned, but the browser is always asynchronous, so we have the callback:

procedure TfrmLogin.SendMessageComplete(nResult : Integer; szHumanResult: String);
begin 
  Report('Sent: ' + szHumanResult);
end;

That’s all there is in the client for normal coding. On the server, this is the code that implements the service:

function TChatService.SendMessage(const szMessageJSON: Utf8String; out szHumanResult: Utf8String): Integer;
begin
  Result := 1;
  g_xMessageList.Add(szMessageJSON);
end;

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I have found Elevate Software’s WebBuilder product to be a very productive environment for me to use to develop web based user interfaces. As a long term Delphi developer, it suits me very well, allowing me to take all the language skills in Delphi, and create very capable Javascript single-page applications. It contains a core set of UI components which at first may seem to be lacking advanced options, but like Lego, you can make very nice complex components with the raw tools provide. I have implemented both an advanced grid, and a slider control using the provided TPanels, TLabels and other components.

The finished result:

The finished WebBuilder grid

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I was in discussion with someone recently about how I go about doing my development, which uses a Javascript user interface built using the Elevate Software WebBuilder product, and a Windows service that is written using Delphi XE2. I was asked why I used the RemObjects SDK rather than any of the other mechanisms available. I have used it for many years and it has served me well, so it took a little time to work out what the benefit is – why do I pay money when there are other options “out of the box”?

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I backed the Pebble watch on the second day, so I got my shipped Pebble fairly early in the delivery process. I was asked by a friend recently how I was getting on with it, so I emailed a response, and he said “I wasn’t expecting a blog post”, but why not post it anyway?

Overall the Pebble is exactly what I thought it would be, and done very well. There was a lot of talk about the iWatch type stuff and how Apple would do one with a touch interface and apps and concepts on how you would select them. But that misses the point in my opinion – what you want is an interface you don’t have to look at. One night I went to bed in a hotel room and wore the Pebble. I was able to listen to a podcast and to turn it off when I was about to go to sleep without having to look at anything – I can feel the buttons to know which one to use, and the order. In the middle of the night, I could check the time by shaking the watch and using the big number style so my blurry eyes without glasses could still make it out. Podcast control is great, and handy to pause from across the room when the kids come in making noise, to rewind a bit after, or to skip adverts. You cannot do those when your watch needs you to do fancy touch gestures.

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