Tag - TCollection

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Register any TCollection type for proper JSON serialization

Due to the current implementation pattern of the TCollection type in Delphi, it was not possible to implement directly this kind of parameter.

In fact, the TCollection constructor is defined as such:

 constructor Create(ItemClass: TCollectionItemClass);

And, on the server side, we do not know which kind of TCollectionItemClass is to be passed. Therefore, the TServiceFactoryServer is unable to properly instantiate the object instances, supplying the expected item class.

The framework propose two potential solutions:

  • You can let your collection class inherit from the new TInterfaceCollection type;
  • You can call the TJSONSerializer.RegisterCollectionForJSON() method to register the collection type and its associated item class.

First solution has already been detailed in this blog.
We will now describe the second (and new) way.

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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.

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Introducing TInterfacedCollection dedicated class

A TInterfacedCollection dedicated class has been defined, properly handling collection item creation on the Server side, with interface-based services: all contract operations shall use a class inheriting from it, instead of the standard TCollection, which was not defined as needed for our high-level needs.

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