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2016, Tuesday September 6

Ride the mORMot at EKON 20 in Dusseldorf!

There are still a few days for "very early birds" offer for EKON 20 conference, and meet us for 3 sessions (including a half-day training/introduction to mORMot)!
Join us the 7-9th of November in Düsseldorf!

Our sessions are not restricted to mORMot, but will use mORMot to illustrate some concepts and design ideas:

You can contact me if you want to join, so that I may give you an additional discount password!

Hope we can meet for a chat and (a few) beers!

2015, Sunday June 21

Why FPC may be a better compiler than Delphi

Almost every time I'm debugging some core part of our framework, I like to see the generated asm, and trying to optimize the pascal code for better speed - when it is worth it, of course!
I just made a nice observation, when comparing the assembler generated by Delphi to FPC's output.

Imagine you compile the following lines (extracted from SynCommons.pas), to convert some number into ASCII characters:

...
c100 := val div 100;
dec(val,c100*100);
PWord(P)^ := TwoDigitLookupW[val];
...

This divides a number by 100, then computes the modulo in val, to store two digits at a time. We did not use val := val mod 100 here, since mod would do another division, so we rely on a simple multiplication to compute the modulo.
You may know that for today's CPUs, integer multiplication is very optimized, taking a cycle (or less, thanks to its pipelines), whereas a division is much more expensive - if you have some spare time, take a look at this document, and you will find out that a div opcode could use 10 times more cycles then a mul - even with the latest CPU architectures.
Let's see how our two beloved compilers do their homework (with optimization enabled, of course)...

Delphi generates the following code for c100 := val div 100:

005082AB 8BC1             mov eax,ecx
005082AD BE64000000       mov esi,$00000064
005082B2 33D2             xor edx,edx
005082B4 F7F6             div esi

Whereas FPC generates the following:

0043AC48 8b55f8                   mov    -0x8(%ebp),%edx
0043AC4B b81f85eb51               mov    $0x51eb851f,%eax
0043AC50 f7e2                     mul    %edx
0043AC52 c1ea05                   shr    $0x5,%edx
0043AC55 8955f0                   mov    %edx,-0x10(%ebp)

Even if you are assembler agnostic, and once you did get rid of the asm textual representation (Delphi uses Intel's, whereas FPC/GDB follows AT&T), you can see that Delphi generates a classic (and slow) div esi opcode, whereas FPC uses a single multiplication, followed by a bit shift.

This optimization is known as "Reciprocal Multiplication", and I would let you read this article for mathematical reference - or this one.
It multiplies (mul) the number by the power of two reciprocal of 100 (which is the hexadecimal 51eb851f value), followed by a right shift (shr) of 5 bits.
Thanks to 32 bit rounding of the integer operations, this would in fact divide the number per 100.
Even it consists in two assembler opcodes, a mul + shr is in fact faster than a single div.

It is a shame that the Delphi compiler did not include this very common optimization, which is clearly a win for some very common tasks. 

Of course, the LLVM back-end used on the NextGen compiler can do it, be we may expect this classic optimization be part of the decades-old Delphi compiler.
And I'm still not convinced about the performance of the NextGen generated code, since the associated RTL is known to be slow, so won't benefit of LVVM optimization - which takes  a LOT of time to compile, by the way (much more than FPC).

Congrats, FPC folks!

2015, Monday March 9

SynTaskDialog.pas version for Lazarus

Just to share a commit of some interest to FPC/Lazarus users.

Ondrej Pokorny (aka "reddwarf" in our forums) did send to us a nice implementation of our SynTaskDialog.pas unit, compatible with Lazarus.

Since it is incompatible with the current state of the other mORMot UI units (which are still VCL-based), we have included the source in the Third Party subfolder of our source code repository.
Direct link is https://github.com/.../SynTaskDialog4Lazarus

Resulting unit is cross-platform, as stated by the following screenshots:

Feedback is welcome on our forum, as usual.

2015, Sunday March 1

ShowCase: mORMot with FPC on Android

I just received a mail from Alfred (aka Alf in the source code), which did a lot of work to let our little mORMot compiles and run with FPC, especially under Linux, and also with an ARM processor.

Hello Arnaud,
A nice surprise ...
Sample 2 native on Android !!!!
See picture.
 Works 100% !!!
 Greetings, Alfred.

This was compiled with FPC, and LCL for Android... 


This is not just the cross-platform client library, but an Embedded SQLite3 ORM stand-alone application running on the Android device!

Updated:
You can download the .apk directly from http://synopse.info/files/samples/mORMotSample.apk
Note how the application compiled with laz4android, using native Android components, if much smaller than a FMX's.
The apk has two huge JPEG pictures, but the binary itself is only 800 KB...

Great, isn't it?
Comments are welcome on our forum, as usual!

2015, Saturday January 10

mORMot under Linux thanks to FPC

You can use the FreePascal Compiler (FPC) to compile the mORMot framework source code, targetting Windows and Linux.

Linux is a premium target for cheap and efficient server Hosting. Since mORMot has no dependency, installing a new mORMot server is as easy as copying its executable on a blank Linux host, then run it. No need to install any framework nor runtime. You could even use diverse operating systems (several Linux or Windows Server versions) in your mORMot servers farm, with minimal system requirements, and updates.

We will now see how to write your software with Linux-compiling in mind, and also give some notes about how to install a Linux Virtual Machine with Lazarus on your Windows computer, compiling both FPC and Lazarus from their SVN latest sources!

Continue reading...

2014, Monday August 11

Cross-Platform mORMot Clients - Smart Mobile Studio

Current version of the main framework units target only Win32 and Win64 systems.

It allows to make easy self-hosting of mORMot servers for local business applications in any corporation, or pay cheap hosting in the Cloud, since mORMot CPU and RAM expectations are much lower than a regular IIS-WCF-MSSQL-.Net stack.
But in a Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), you would probably need to create clients for platforms outside the Windows world, especially mobile devices.

A set of cross-platform client units is therefore available in the CrossPlatform sub-folder of the source code repository. It allows writing any client in modern object pascal language, for:

  • Any version of Delphi, on any platform (Mac OSX, or any mobile supported devices);
  • FreePascal Compiler 2.7.1;
  • Smart Mobile Studio 2.1, to create AJAX or mobile applications (via PhoneGap, if needed).

This series of articles will introduce you to mORMot's Cross-Platform abilities:

Any feedback is welcome in our forum, as usual!

Continue reading...

Cross-Platform mORMot Clients - Delphi / FreePascal

Current version of the main framework units target only Win32 and Win64 systems.

It allows to make easy self-hosting of mORMot servers for local business applications in any corporation, or pay cheap hosting in the Cloud, since mORMot CPU and RAM expectations are much lower than a regular IIS-WCF-MSSQL-.Net stack.
But in a Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), you would probably need to create clients for platforms outside the Windows world, especially mobile devices.

A set of cross-platform client units is therefore available in the CrossPlatform sub-folder of the source code repository. It allows writing any client in modern object pascal language, for:

  • Any version of Delphi, on any platform (Mac OSX, or any mobile supported devices);
  • FreePascal Compiler 2.7.1;
  • Smart Mobile Studio 2.1, to create AJAX or mobile applications (via PhoneGap, if needed).

This series of articles will introduce you to mORMot's Cross-Platform abilities:

Any feedback is welcome in our forum, as usual!

Continue reading...

Cross-Platform mORMot Clients - Generating Code Wrappers

Current version of the main framework units target only Win32 and Win64 systems.

It allows to make easy self-hosting of mORMot servers for local business applications in any corporation, or pay cheap hosting in the Cloud, since mORMot CPU and RAM expectations are much lower than a regular IIS-WCF-MSSQL-.Net stack.
But in a Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), you would probably need to create clients for platforms outside the Windows world, especially mobile devices.

A set of cross-platform client units is therefore available in the CrossPlatform sub-folder of the source code repository. It allows writing any client in modern object pascal language, for:

  • Any version of Delphi, on any platform (Mac OSX, or any mobile supported devices);
  • FreePascal Compiler 2.7.1;
  • Smart Mobile Studio 2.1, to create AJAX or mobile applications (via PhoneGap, if needed).

This series of articles will introduce you to mORMot's Cross-Platform abilities:

Any feedback is welcome in our forum, as usual!

Continue reading...

Cross-Platform mORMot Clients - Units and Platforms

Current version of the main framework units target only Win32 and Win64 systems.

It allows to make easy self-hosting of mORMot servers for local business applications in any corporation, or pay cheap hosting in the Cloud, since mORMot CPU and RAM expectations are much lower than a regular IIS-WCF-MSSQL-.Net stack.
But in a Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), you would probably need to create clients for platforms outside the Windows world, especially mobile devices.

A set of cross-platform client units is therefore available in the CrossPlatform sub-folder of the source code repository. It allows writing any client in modern object pascal language, for:

  • Any version of Delphi, on any platform (Mac OSX, or any mobile supported devices);
  • FreePascal Compiler 2.7.1;
  • Smart Mobile Studio 2.1, to create AJAX or mobile applications (via PhoneGap, if needed).

This series of articles will introduce you to mORMot's Cross-Platform abilities:

Any feedback is welcome in our forum, as usual!

Continue reading...

2014, Monday June 30

Sub-optimized Win64 Delphi compiler: missing branch table for case of

As we already stated here, the Delphi compiler for the Win64 target performs well, as soon as you by-pass the RTL and its sub-optimized implementation - as we do for mORMot.
In fact, our huge set of regression tests perform only 10% slower on Win64, when compared to Win32.
But we got access to much more memory - which is not a huge gain for a mORMot server, which uses very little of RAM - so may be useful in some cases, when you need a lot of structures to be loaded in your RAM.

Slowdown on Win64 is mostly due to biggest pointer size, which will use twice the memory, hence may generate a larger number of cache misses (failed attempts to read or write a piece of data in the cache, which results in a main memory access with much longer latency).
But in Delphi, apart from the RTL which may need more tuning about performance (but seems not to be a priority on Embarcadero side), is also sometimes less efficient when generating the code.
For instance, sounds like if case ... of ... end statements do not generated branch table instructions on Win64, whereas it does for Win32 - and FPC does for any x64 platform it supports.

Continue reading...

2014, Friday June 27

RoadMap refreshed

We did some cleaning in the mORMot official RoadMap.
Now feature requests tickets will detail all to-do items we would like to implement.

Current framework RoadMap and implementation is in fact going into a pragmatic direction.
No need to make all framework's unit compatible at once: so we introduced some client-dedicated units, without any dependency on SynCommons.pas.

We would like to implement (in this order):

The CrossPlatform folder already contains units which compile under all Delphi compilers (VCL and FMX), and FPC.

But perhaps we would move the server to Linux, either via FPC, or using Delphi itself!

Continue reading...

2014, Friday May 30

Software Design, Brook, mORMot, RAD, SOLID and OOP

We got a very instructive discussion in our forums, with Silvio, the maintainer of the Brook Framework.
Brook is a nice framework for writing web applications using Free Pascal.

It comes to my mind what mORMot can offer.
We did not want to compare the features or say that one framework is better than the other, but it appeared to me that a lot of object pascal programmers are tied to 20th century programming model.

In fact, to embrace the potentials of mORMot, you need to switch your mind, and enhanced your RAD and OOP background, into 21th century SOLID model.

Continue reading...

2014, Friday February 28

Think free as in free speech, not free beer

After more than 5 years of opening some huge part of Delphi code base, just my two cents.

Free software means free as a bird.

In practice, most Open Source "consumers" focus on free as a free beer...
This is a reality, especially for "niche" projects like developing libraries for Delphi.

Here are some thoughts from my little experiment with mORMot.
If you ask what Open Source for libraries mean, it may help you!

Continue reading...

2013, Thursday September 19

FreePascal Lazarus and Android Native Controls

We all know that the first Delphi for Android was just released...

I just found out an amazing alternative, using native Android controls, and FPC/Lazarus as compiler and IDE.

It creates small .apk file: only 180 KB, from my tests!

It makes use of direct LCL access of Android native controls, so it is a great sample.

Continue reading...

2013, Saturday May 11

Delphi XE4 NextGen compiler: using byte instead of ansichar?

When I first read the technical white paper covering all of the language changes in XE4 for mobile development (tied to the new ARM LLVM-based Delphi compiler), I have to confess I was pretty much confused.

Two great mORMot users just asked for XE4/iOS support of mORMot.

Win32/Win64 support for XE4 will be done as soon as we got a copy of it.
I suspect the code already works, since it was working as expected with XE3, and we rely on our own set of low-level functions for most internal work.

But iOS-targetting is more complex, due to the NextGen compiler, mainly.

Continue reading...

2012, Tuesday November 13

Go language and Delphi

Do you know the Go language?

It is a strong-typed, compiled, cross-platform, and concurrent.
It features some nice high-level structures, like maps and strings, and still have very low-level access to the generated code: pointers are there, in a safe strong-typed implementation just like in pascal, and there is even a "goto", which sounds like an heresy to dogmatic coders, but does make sense to me, at least when you want to optimize code speed, in some rare cases.

It is created/pushed by Google, used internally by the company in their computer farms, and was designed by one of the original C creators.

Continue reading...

2012, Saturday October 6

Delphi XE3 is preparing (weak) reference counting for class instances

In Delphi, you have several ways of handling data life time, therefore several ways of handling memory:

  • For simple value objects (e.g.  byte integer double shortstring and fixed size arrays or record containing only such types), the value is copied in fixed-size buffers;
  • For more complex value objets (e.g. string and dynamic arrays or record containing such types), there is a reference counter handled by each instance, with copy-on-write feature and compiler-generated reference counting at code scope level (with hidden try..finally blocks);
  • For most class instances (e.g. deriving from TObject), you have to Create then Free each instance, and manage its life time by hand - with explicit try..finally blocks;
  • For class deriving from TInterfacedObject, you have a RefCount property, with _AddRef _Release methods (this is the reference-counted COM model), and you can use Delphi interface to work with such instances - see this blog article.
With Delphi XE3, we were told that some automatic memory handling at class level are about to be introduced at the compiler and RTL level.
Even if this feature is not finished, and disabled, there are a lot of changes in the Delphi XE3 Run Time Library which sounds like a preparation of such a new feature.

Continue reading...

2012, Tuesday August 28

"Trop c'est trop" - No Client-Server for XE3 PRO users

Here is some unbelievable news retrieved from "Te Waka o Delphi" blog:

From XE3 onwards, your Delphi Professional EULA will prohibit you from using Delphi Professional for anything other than local data access.
If you want to build client/server database applications using Delphi Professional, you will be required to purchase a “Client/Server Add-On” pack.

This goes beyond the fact that you do not get (or can otherwise use or install) client/server drivers for the DBExpress or other “built in” data access frameworks, but extends even to 3rd party data access technologies.
That is, whatever you may be able to do or achieve – technically – using some 3rd party component or library with you Delphi Professional compiler, you cannot legally create a client/server application.
Never mind any 3rd party components or libraries, this same prohibition will apply even if you are using naked, unadorned Microsoft ADO.

Damn show-stopper for me.
Embarcadero is killing Delphi.

Our very own mORMot Open-Source framework is fully Client-Server oriented, and allow creating scalable Client-Server applications even with an Oracle DB system back-end, even with XE2 starter edition (direct access, without any DB.pas / DBExpress layer).

Continue reading...

2011, Sunday December 4

Total Commander 64 bit is using... Lazarus and FPC

I'm a long-time registered user of Total Commander.

This tool is my daily file manager. I never use Windows Explorer, since Total Commander is just faster, more easy to use (especially with the keyboard), has a lot of plug-ins. I even created my own plug-ins to access some custom file formats, and navigate into them just like with any folder. And it includes a lot of well written commands for FTP access or file comparison, which made other tools (like WinMerge) unnecessary.

There is a new beta version of Total Commander available, which targets Windows 64 bit. I just thought: 'Whoo, this is a real-world Delphi XE2 64 application'. I downloaded and tried it. Worked as expected, and integrates seamlessly with Windows Seven (for the shell extensions). Then I took a look at the executable... and discovered it was not compiled with Delphi XE2... but with FPC !

Continue reading...

2011, Monday August 8

Our mORMot won't hibernate this winter, thanks to FireMonkey

Everybody is buzzing about FireMonkey...

Our little mORMot will like FireMonkey!
Here is why...

Continue reading...

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