Delphi 2007 Improved Help (?)

If you recall from previous posts (yes, I know it has been a while, but I've been busy!), I was frankly disappointed at the so-called "Improved Help".

The major flaws

Back on release of Delphi 2007 for Win32, the major flaws I found were the following (listed in no particular order, but numbered for easier reference):

  1. Crashing the IDE when requesting help on a menu;
  2. Failing to retrieve help for common Pascal/Delphi keywords;
  3. Giving "precedence" in searches to results pertaining to VB, VC++, Anything else under the moon and, in the last spot, Delphi;
  4. Taking up a huge amount of space with non Delphi for Win32 help contents;
  5. Using an Help engine that would consistently remain in memory leaking resources;
  6. Failure to retrieve help for components in forms or giving too many pointless options to choose from;

What has changed on SP3

#1 was solved with SP1, IIRC;

Help on End#2 Simple test program loaded from the demo ones. Pressed help on unit, interface, uses. All of these would pop a few options to choose from, but among those was the "correct" one. Then press F1 over type: only two options given and neither very useful... Class, procedure: again a few choices; private: a few choices too and among them the "good" one, but the one that I clicked first because it looked as the most promising, took me instead to the C++ reference section. No, that's not C++.net, but rather RAD Studio C++ reference. Odd for a "Delphi for Win32" product. Yes, I know that they have common bases for all their products, but that's THEIR choice and US, END-USERS, should NOT be bothered with that. If I'm programming in Delphi (Pascal), I should NOT need C++ help on my system and certainly not being offered that help when I press F1 on a Delphi keyword... The image on the right shows a list of the choices given when pressing F1 on end (but a similar one shows up for begin as well)...

#3 From the tests above, it appears that this has been nicely worked out: many VC++, VB or J# entries still show up, but usually towards the END of the list, rather than being at the top of it.

#4 remains the same and I don't expect it to change seeing that it's a common base for their Win32+dotNET products;

#5 I couldn't get a single DEXPLORER instance to stay in memory. Maybe the conditions that cause that are rather peculiar, but in all the open/closes I did, not once did I see it left or even another instance being loaded while another one was already in memory.

#6 I had to try REALLY hard to find a component that would not get me to that component's reference help. Almost every single component, from those in a form, to even those in the component selector, got me to the proper page after pressing F1 with no further questions asked.


1) Definitely a much welcome improvement, but still needs a lot of work. It's sad that 9 months after the initial release that touted "Improved Help" as one of the key factors for purchasing the new version, it still fails to live to that promise. Maybe by the time they get to Delphi 2008 the help is then at the standards they said it was back on release of Delphi 2007. Let's just hope they keep improving it, because it certainly looks as they still have a lot of work to do, but as long as they keep doing it, maybe in the future we will get a decent help!

2) There are still quite a few "place-holders" like the one in this example:
Place Holder

3) I was, towards the end of my tests, prompted with this:
Local Help

I opted to use Local Help as the primary source and haven't tested with the default option given as shown above. Seemed to work pretty much the same but only did a few more tests.


Anonymous said...

I'm surprised I don't hear much more yelling from users. I recently installed SP3 and the help is still ridiculous. I am so lucky I still have the manuals (paper docs) for D5, else I'd be climbing up the walls.

djenkins said...

I agree with anonymous. The help is still amazingly bad. I suspect most people are just resigned to it never really being fixed.

I tried to find "for" as in "for i:= ...", and cannot find Delphi-specific syntax. I get C/C++, VB and windows scripting, but not Delphi. And all I bought was Delphi for Win32. Sorry, CodeGear, but the help is still terrible. You should just throw together a version of help that's structured like it was in D7, and give users an option to use that instead of the useless labyrinth that is the current help system.