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Maybe one day the Object Inspector gets a real overhaul

Posted by jpluimers on 2018/01/23

Maybe one day the Object Inspector gets a real overhaul and hopefully the first thing is someone fixing the F11 behaviour that – in the early days of real Delphi productivity – toggled between designer and object inspector.

Lets digress to that one first as it’s much related to Object Inspector productivity.

F11 four way toggle UX nightmare

Like F12 (that toggles between designer and code editor) it was a predictive two way toggle that never lost it’s state (since around Delphi 7 it’s a four stage toggle: designer -> object inspector -> code editor -> object inspector -> designer) but:

  • it’s hard to remember the current state (especially when switching between editor files or designer targets)
  • the sequence sometimes it forgets state
  • the sequence is unlike all other toggles such as F12 (designer/code editor) and Alt+F12 (view-as-designer/view-as-text) that are two-way.
  • it does not update the menu (that always shows “Object Inspector F11”, not the next phase in the stage)
  • makes it impossible to predictively and immediately go on one step to:
    • Object Inspector
    • Designer
    • Code editor

Quickly selecting a property or event by name

A long time before that (I forgot in which time frame, as in the beta-D1..D3 era, productivity enhancements were rapidly succeeding each other): when you start to type in the name column, it will select the property or event (depending on the tab you’re on).

At first that feature wasn’t documented at all for a very long time, not even in the [WayBackDelphi 2007 Object Inspector documentation around 10 years after this feature was introduced. So it became part of a lot of “Delphi productivity” conference sessions (I think Delphi “conference” productivity shortcuts will find you some).

Around Delphi 2010, it got documented in [Archive.isObject Inspector Keyboard Shortcuts – RAD Studio:

Tab+<letter> Jumps directly to the first property or event beginning with the letter.

Five more years later, the documentation got finally changed to use the “incremental search” coined in [WayBackMalcolm Groves — Incremental Searching in the Delphi Object Inspector.

Delphi Seattle documentation [WayBackObject Inspector Keyboard Shortcuts – RAD Studio:

Tab+<letter> Starts an incremental search on the Name column of properties and events. Use the backspace key to delete characters of your search pattern.

Slow productivity increases

Early 2012 and later that year, Uwe Schuster wrote two blog posts that are now only in the WayBack machine as his site vanished:

The most important features were

  1. the implementation of a 2005 feature request: [WayBack] QualityCentral: Add property filtering to the Object Inspector.
  2. the addition of “Favourite” properties tab at the top

The cool thing on the filter implementation is that it search both the properties and sub properties. Which made it very easy to edit the Color sub-property of a Font by just typing “color” (the filtering was insensitive too).

Later I found there is also a beta 6 on DropBox downloads saved from his site via [WayBackWhat bugs me ;-) about the new Communities is that you first have to join in …: [WayBackDropbox – Uwe Schuster

Some screenshots are at [WayBackTDelphiBlog: Revised Object Inspector для Delphi 2010-XE3 от Uwe Schuster. Обзор.

Half baked Delphi Seattle reimplementation

Two and a half years ago, [WayBack and Archive.isComing Soon to RAD Studio … Enhanced Designer Experience! – Community Blogs – Embarcadero Community suggested improvements for the Object Inspector. I was hoping it would mach or improve the Object Inspector Expert – as hinted a [WayBack] Open Delphi, select a component, move to the Object Inspector, select the filter box, and start typing… (Coming soon, among other Object Inspector improvements… – Marco Cantù – Google+ –  but it didn’t:

Maybe David Hoyle comes up with a proper implementation

Slightly more a year ago there was an interesting thread [WayBack] I always wanted an object inspector where i can tell, first item always ‘name’ second to Xth, left, top, width, height, etc… then the rest, i wouldn’t… – Attila Kovacs – Google+

David Hoyle – of OTA fame – responded, so basically this post is a reminder to see if by now he or someone else has come up with something better than Embarcadero did.

–jeroen

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