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2015, Sunday May 3

SOLID Design Principles

I've just updated the documentation part about the SOLID Design Principles.
The former blog article (almost 4 years old!) sounds like a bit deprecated now...
This is why I would extract here an updated version of this material.

Ensure you checked the corresponding part of the mORMot documentation, which is the updated reference, and probably the easiest to read - including links to all the other documentation.

The acronym SOLID is derived from the following OOP principles (quoted from the corresponding Wikipedia article):

  • Single responsibility principle: the notion that an object should have only a single responsibility;
  • Open/closed principle: the notion that "software entities ... should be open for extension, but closed for modification";
  • Liskov substitution principle: the notion that "objects in a program should be replaceable with instances of their subtypes without altering the correctness of that program” - also named as "design by contract";
  • Interface segregation principle: the notion that "many client specific interfaces are better than one general purpose interface.";
  • Dependency inversion principle: the notion that one should "Depend upon Abstractions. Do not depend upon concretions.". Dependency injection is one method of following this principle, which is also called Inversion Of Control (aka IoC).

If you have some programming skills, those principles are general statements you may already found out by yourself. If you start doing serious object-oriented coding, those principles are best-practice guidelines you would gain following.

They certainly help to fight the three main code weaknesses:

  • Rigidity: Hard to change something because every change affects too many other parts of the system;
  • Fragility: When you make a change, unexpected parts of the system break;
  • Immobility: Hard to reuse in another application because it cannot be disentangled from the current application.

Continue reading...

2013, Wednesday October 9

Good old object is not to be deprecated - it is the future

Yes, I know this article title is a huge moment of trolling for most Delphi developer.
But object could be legend... - wait for it - ... dary!

You perhaps already noticed by several blog posts here that I still like the good old (and deprecated) object type, in addition to the common heap-allocated class type.
Plain record with methods does not match the object-oriented approach of object, since it does not feature inheritance.

When you take a look at modern strongly-typed languages, targeting concurrent programming (you know, multi-thread/multi-core execution), you will see that the objects may be allocated in several ways, to facilitate execution flow.

The Rust language for instance is pretty interesting. It has optional task-local Garbage Collection and safe pointer types with region analysis.

To some extent, it is very similar to what object allows in the Delphi world, and why I'm still using/loving it!

Continue reading...

2013, Wednesday July 24

Tempering Garbage Collection

I'm currently fighting against out of memory errors on an heavy-loaded Java server.

If only it had been implemented in Delphi and mORMot!
But at this time, the mORMot was still in its burrow. :)
Copy-On-Write and a good heap manager can do wonders of stability.

Here are some thoughts about Garbage Collector, and how to temper their limitations.
They may apply to both the JVM and the .Net runtime, by the way.

Continue reading...

2013, Tuesday May 21

Performance issue in NextGen ARC model

Apart from being very slow during compilation, the Delphi NextGen compiler introduced a new memory model, named ARC.

We already spoke about ARC years ago, so please refer to our corresponding blog article for further information, especially about how Apple did introduce ARC to iOS instead of the Garbage Collector model.

About how ARC is to be used in the NextGen compiler, take a look at Marco's blog article, and its linked resources.

But the ARC model, as implemented by Embarcadero, has at least one huge performance issue, in the way weak references, and zeroing weak pointers have been implemented.
I do not speak about the general slow down introduced during every class/record initialization/finalization, which is noticeable, but not a big concern.

If you look at XE4 internals, you will discover a disappointing global lock introduced in the RTL.

Continue reading...

2013, Sunday May 19

"The shorter code, the better?"

One quick Sunday post, from a comment I wrote in a blog article.

I'm always wondering why a lot of programmers tend to implicitly assume that "the shorter source code, the better".

It is true when it means that with proper code refactoring, making small objects with dedicated methods, the code of your methods will be smaller.
It is true when you do not like to write as a "Copy & Paste" coder, without searching to put common code in shared places.

But is it true at the language level?
I mean, is it just because your ARC or GC model allow you not to manage the object memory, that it is always better?

Just some ideas...

Continue reading...

2013, Thursday March 7

64 bit compatibility of mORMot units

I'm happy to announce that mORMot units are now compiling and working great in 64 bit mode, under Windows.
Need a Delphi XE2/XE3 compiler, of course!

ORM and services are now available in Win64, on both client and server sides.
Low-level x64 assembler stubs have been created, tested and optimized.
UI part is also available... that is grid display, reporting (with pdf export and display anti-aliasing), ribbon auto-generation, SynTaskDialog, i18n... the main SynFile demo just works great!

Overall impression is very positive, and speed is comparable to 32 bit version (only 10-15% slower).

Speed decrease seems to be mostly due to doubled pointer size, and some less optimized part of the official Delphi RTL.
But since mORMot core uses its own set of functions (e.g. for JSON serialization, RTTI support or interface calls or stubbing), we were able to release the whole 64 bit power of your hardware.

Delphi 64 bit compiler sounds stable and efficient. Even when working at low level, with assembler stubs.
Generated code sounds more optimized than the one emitted by FreePascalCompiler - and RTL is very close to 32 bit mode.
Overall, VCL conversion worked as easily than a simple re-build.
Embarcadero's people did a great job for VCL Win64 support, here!

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, Monday June 18

Circular reference and zeroing weak pointers

The memory allocation model of the Delphi interface type uses some kind of Automatic Reference Counting (ARC). In order to avoid memory and resource leaks and potential random errors in the applications (aka the terrible EAccessViolation exception on customer side) when using interface, a SOA framework like mORMot has to offer so-called Weak pointers and Zeroing Weak pointers features.

Note that garbage collector based languages (like Java or C#) do not suffer from this problem, since the circular references are handled by their memory model: objects lifetime are maintained globally by the memory manager. Of course, it will increase memory use, slowdown the process due to additional actions during allocation and assignments (all objects and their references have to be maintained in internal lists), and may slow down the application when garbage collector enters in action. In order to avoid such issues when performance matters, experts tend to pre-allocate and re-use objects: this is one common limitation of this memory model, and why Delphi is still a good candidate (like unmanaged C or C++ - and also Objective C) when it deals with performance and stability.

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2011, Thursday December 8

Avoiding Garbage Collector: Delphi and Apple side by side

Among all trolling subject in forums, you'll find out the great Garbage Collection theme.

Fashion languages rely on it. At the core of the .Net and Java framework, and all scripting languages (like JavaScript, Perl, Python or Ruby), you'll find a Garbage Collector. New developers, just released from schools, do learn about handling memory only in theory, and just can't understand how is memory allocated - we all have seen such rookies involved in Delphi code maintenance, leaking memory as much as they type. In fact, most of them did not understood how a computer works. I warned you this will be a trolling subject.

And, in Delphi, there is no such collector. We handle memory in several ways:

  • Creating static variables - e.g. on the stack, inside a class or globally;
  • Creating objects with class instances allocated on heap - in at least three ways: with a try..finally Free block, with a TComponent ownership model in the VCL, or by using an interface (which creates an hidden try..finally Free block);
  • Creating reference-counted variables, i.e. string, array of, interface or variant kind of variables.

It is a bit complex, but it is also deadly powerful. You have several memory allocation models at hand, which can be very handy if you want to tune your performance and let program scale. Just like manual recycling at home will save the planet. Some programmers will tell you that it's a waste of cell brain, typing and time. Linux kernel gurus would not say so, I'm afraid.

Then came the big Apple company, which presented its new ARC model (introduced in Mac OS X 10.7 Lion) as a huge benefit for Objective-C in comparison with the Garbage Collection model. And let's face it: this ARC just sounds like the Delphi memory model.

Continue reading...