In this episode of the Podcast @ Delphi.org we talk with Cary Jensen about his new book Delphi in Depth: FireDAC and the upcoming Delphi Developer Days which Cary puts on with Dr. Bob Swart. Nick Hodges, our co-host, was a previous host of Delphi Developer Days with Cary, and I’ve made a number of appearances there as well. They are highly recommended.
Cary’s new 558 page Delphi in Depth book tackles everyone’s favorite multi-platform database access framework: FireDAC. Cary gives it his unique treatment that only he can deliver. He gives special emphasis to all the configuration options available with FireDAC that can help you gain even more performance.
For this year’s Delphi Developer Days, Cary and Dr. Bob are doing things a little differently. They are doing a special workshop focused on database development. You are encouraged to bring your laptop and follow along while you learn from the masters!
Just in case you missed it, Cary also put on a webinar on FireDAC recently that I recommend you check out.
Getting Technical with Cary Jensen and FireDAC[ 38:08 ]Download
Nick and Jim talk with MVP Holger Flick of Korfmann Air Technology and Flix Engineering fame about smart textiles, the different software development disciplines and the future of technology. Holger also reminds everyone to see him and others at the Delphi Code Camp in Germany.
Get Bit Episode with Holger Flick[ 45:16 ]Download
This episode is extra special in that it include a case study of the software behind the lights for Niagara Falls. Nick and I spoke with Martin Searancke of Dream Solutions, Ltd. in New Zealand, who is the architect of the Light Factory software used by the Niagara Falls Illumination Board to illuminate Niagara Falls. After you listen to the podcast you can read the case study write up here.
The software uses both VCL and FireMonkey. The backend control software is written in VCL and the frontend user interface side is written in FireMonkey. It also uses components by Mitov Software, TMS Software, and LMD Innovative.
The decision to upgrade the lighting that illuminates Niagara Falls seems as though it should be the main story but, it’s not. The part of the project we are interested in is the one where the Niagara Falls Illumination Board (NFI) added a requirement to build a more flexible color illumination scheme to replace the old guillotine color-changing scheme that had been in place since 1974. The guillotine color-changing synchro-server mechanical system was to be replaced by a digital color control system and the twenty-one 4000w Xenon lights were to be replaced by 1400 digital-friendly nine-light LED modules in which the LED’s would be multi-color rather than having to place a filter in front of the white light of the Xenons. The LED system of lights would be software controlled from a 22-inch touch screen from over a 2000 foot distance from the falls.
The technical and engineering challenges to a project of this scope and magnitude were significant right down to the last task of choosing the lighting controller and connecting it with the 1400 LED light modules. The software that drives the system is housed in the controller and is built using Embarcadero’s DelphiIntegrated Development Environment (IDE). The FireMonkey (FMX) application development platform is used to create the front end functionality, and the Visual Component Library (VCL) is used for the back-end services. FireMonkey and VCL are both integrated elements of the Delphi IDE.
The lighting controller was a commercially available machine marketed by Philips Strand Lighting as part of their NEO line of lighting consoles.
The existing software code in the NEO lighting console dated back a few years given that the console had been sold commercially before the Niagara Falls lighting project was even considered. The first challenge to overcome was to review the technical and performance requirements needed to accomplish the vision of the NFI and update the FireMonkey and VCL code to meet the required functionality. Then, came the customization of the code to accommodate all the connecting equipment that would drive the LED modules and the end user interface, the 22-inch touchscreen.
The overall objective of the new control console and software code within was not to try and upstage the majestic beauty of the falls but rather to organically enhance visual images of the falls at night when it couldn’t be seen otherwise. So, special effects such as strobing and other awe and wow factors were ignored in favor of techniques such as backlighting the falls to reveal hidden beauty in addition to a penetrating forward color-changing illumination. The results were nothing less than magnificent requiring new software profiles due to the color changing properties of the LED modules. The final result was ten preset modes for each side of the Falls (American and Canadian) encompassing color schemes to match naturally occurring, organic events such as the aurora borealis, sunset, sunrise, waves, and color gradients.
One unique capability that was requested to be programmed into the FireMonkey and VCL code was a user interface the allowed operators to use a touch-sensitive color-picker button on the screen to change scenes instantaneously. The LED lighting modules instantly responsive making these color changes dramatic and inspiring. A mobile interface module and application was created using FireMonkey to allow visitors and tourists to be able to manipulate the solid color palette and see the changes appear right before their eyes.
The Niagara Falls Lighting Project brought to light one of the real values of Embarcadero software. In this case, the Delphi IDE and its integrated parts (FireMonkey and VCL) is life-cycle engineered so that code developed years ago can be updated and reused to create an entirely new, cutting edge capability for new technologies such as LED lighting modules. This fit the Niagara Falls Illumination Board (NFI) requirements perfectly. The design of the system was mandated to done such that in the future, changes and additions can be easily accommodated. Embarcadero and its Delphi IDE proved its worth and was demonstrated to be able to meet future requirements as the Niagara Falls lighting system evolves and new technologies come online.
EarMaster turns your iPad into a private music training classroom. Powered by FireMonkey and TMS iCL plus it also uses SQLite, SSL, In-App purchases, XML and Indy components in the app. The IDE extensions CnPack and MMX were also very valuable. This video provides an excellent introduction. EarMaster is the Most Advanced App for Music Theory and Ear Training on iOS.
Switchboardturns your iPhone into, well, a fully featured and networked phone system in the palm of your hand. It is for the iPhone only and uses Delphi for iOS, Cloud API, Parallel Programming API, and REST Client Library. This video will provide some details.
Alpemix is a remote desktop for increasing your productivity wherever you might happen to be in the world. It is a multi-platform system compatible with iOS, Windows Mac OS X and Android so you can be productive under all circumstances and is built on the Delphi platform. More detail is available here.
ValidIN is a mobile medical app that networks Croatian biomedical laboratories so that blood samples can be validated quickly and accurately. It is built on the Delphi platform for iOS and Android using FireDAC and DataSnap as well.
MindGlow is a powerful meditation tool you can use to induce your mind into states of peace in those times when stress might just be a bit too much. It uses Embarcadero Delphi and FireMonkey but also Apple’s Core Audio and Google’s Android AudioTrack. More and more, the research is showing that meditation has physical health benefits. From reduced cortisol, to increase in HRV, meditation can and will improve your health. To gain the most of these physical benefits, Delta sessions is critical. Serious trainers and elite athletes know that recovery and rest is an essential component to pushing past physical limits and improving overall health. Delta meditation does this in spades! MindGlow is a fascinating app. Learn more here.