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Jeroen W. Pluimers on .NET, C#, Delphi, databases, and personal interests

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Drawbacks for separating TDS/TD32 symbol information in separate file for your Delphi applications? What about Visual Studio?

Posted by jpluimers on 2020/01/15

A while ago this interesting question came by: [WayBack] Delphi XE2 has got the Linking option “Place debug information in separate TDS file” … Does this have any adverse effects for Win32 Delphi executables? – Thomas Mueller (dummzeuch) – Google+

The answer is “no”.

By about mid 2018, the same holds for Visual Studio and PDB symbol information.


Since long ago (I think about Delphi 2), the Delphi debugger understands TDS (historically also known as TD32) Turbo Debugger Symbol Information which can be either in the .EXE or in a separate .TDS file with the same name and directory as the .EXE.

Many other tools also know how to get the symbols from either place, see for instance TD32-TDS-SYMBOL-INFORMATION.

The advantage of keeping it in the EXE is that it is easier to ship to clients. Unless you do not want the clients to have it. Then it is easier to separate it in a file.

David Heffernan raises an important point though, as many people confuse these two topics:

  • the presence of Debug Symbols
  • the code generation of extra run-time checks and debug-assistance (like stack frames)

This is caused by both of the above usually being enabled in DEBUG mode and disabled in RELEASE mode.

However, nothing prevents you from generating the Debug Symbols in RELEASE mode, and they can highly help track down customer problems.

This is David’s comment:

There’s a common myth that “debug builds” perform worse than “release builds”.

Whether or not debug information is generated is completely independent from the performance of the code.

Visual Studio

For a long time, EXE files generated by Microsoft Tools could only include .DBG symbol information, but no .PDB symbol information.

[WayBack] executable – Embed .pdb debug symbol information into an .exe file in Visual Studio – Stack Overflow. Especially read the comments about:


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