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

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When your Delphi IDE suddenly skips unsaved changes during compilation(TL;DR: watch early signs your IDE is hosed, then restart without saving)

Posted by jpluimers on 2021/03/24

A while ago, I observed that when compiling, my Delphi IDE would not take into account unsaved changes any more.

This ws in a time when I was tracking down some hard to reproduce problems of code that sometimes would and sometimes would not compile at all.

The solution was this:

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Embarcadero\BDS\18.0\Compiling]
"BackgroundCompilation"="False"

Somehow, the Delphi IDE had turned this flag to True without me telling it did, nor me changing an option (heck if you do a “Delphi” “BackgroundCompilation” – Google Search you hardly get any meaningful results).

Luckily, I did remember what happened around the bahaviour change: the compiler had encountered a strange error, and the IDE had become unstable.

With an unstable IDE, I did have seen damage in saved source files in the past, so I always use version control with Delphi as that allows easier to spot file differences.

What I did not anticipate was that it could corrupting my persisted IDE settings, though every now and then.

Detecting early signs of the IDE becoming unstable

  • any internal compiler error (AV or not)
  • refactoring not succeeding while it should
  • insert mode suddenly becomes override or vice versa
  • editor block selection is suddenly turned on
  • any access violation or pointer error exception

Sometimes (but not always) these can be early signs too

  • debugger blue dots not matching compiled code lines
  • the debugger not being able to debug code despite blue dots being there
  • properties in the object inspector having changed without manual action

Be prepared for an unstable IDE

  • Save your work often
  • At the earliest sign of an unstable IDE: kill (do not save work!) the affected bds.32 process using Process Explorer

BackgroundCompilation

A “Delphi” “BackgroundCompilation” – Google Search did not get much relevant results. Below are the most relevant ones I could find from it:

Too bad Google does not index the WayBack machine, as I think it contains relevant material that is now hard to find.

So it looks like the feature was introduced somewhere close to Delphi 5:

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Borland\Delphi\5.0\Compiling]
"Show Compiler Progress"="True"
"Warn on Package Rebuild"="-1"
"Compile Beep"="0"
"Cache Headers"="0"
"BackgroundCompilation"="0"

“Delphi” “Background Compilation” – Google Search shows much more information, based on what it returned I found that the first actual documentation was for Background Compilation in Delphi 2010, some 10 years after it became available:

The image in the blog post of former product manager Andreano Lanusse shows why I did not see the behaviour: when background compiling is active, the progress dialog is transparent (and non-modal). I did not have the compiler progress enabled, so never saw that dialog change behaviour.

–jeroen

 

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