Delphi on My Mac with VMWare 2.01

This summer a friend of mine convinced me to go to the Apple Developer conference with him.  He had purchased an original iPhone and convinced me we should find out how to write applications for the next generation iPhone.  It was shortly after the conference that I bought my first Mac - a Macbook Pro.  I bought a Mac laptop because I have been traveling more frequently and have often missed being able to cut a little Delphi code and keep in touch with the world via the Net.  Since I had to buy a Mac for iPhone development, I thought it was the perfect time to see if a laptop was right for me.  So far, I’m liking the ability to code anywhere and any time.

Initially I thought about using BootCamp to load windows onto my MacBook Pro, but decided against it because I only had a 100Gb hard drive, since I unwittingly bought an older version of the MacBook Pro on eBay (it’s only a 2 Ghz Core Duo MacBook Pro 1,1), making the trade off for a smaller but faster HD.  This model also didn’t have an external Firewire 800 port so running Windows off an external drive wasn’t a good option both for performance and the portability impediment of an external device.

After looking at other options such as replacing the HD with a larger version I opted to buy VMWare’s Fusion 2 for 50% off, a mere $40USD.  It’s amazing to me the complexity of the software you can buy for cheap these days.  As a programmer it’s also disturbing, since I understand the time and effort that goes into writing such a piece of software.

After working now with Delphi 7 on Fusion, I have concluded that Delphi 7 under VMWare on my older laptop is actually faster than running it on my AMD X2 4400+ Windows PC with a 10K rpm HD.   It’s been a little difficult getting used to a laptop keyboard, but I think my PC is going to be relegated to acting as my server in the near future.

One major issue that I encountered with Delphi on my MacBook Pro was the lack of an Insert key.  Although I own Rad Studio 2007, I am still actively using Delphi 7.  This is in part to the component libraries that I own, and CodeRush.  For those of you out there who don’t know about CodeRush, it’s an IDE add-in written by Mark Miller when he owned Eagle Software, prior to selling his IP and joining DevExpress.  CodeRush was a great productivity tool.  I especially like the code navigation and code template features.  Unfortunately it has some bugs, one of which is that Insert mode is occasionaly turned off, and the code templates start to overwrite other code.  As I understand it,  a lot of these kind of problems are due to bugs in the Editor itself and a lack of documentation and support from Borland for third party vendors.  Each release of Delphi involved a significant rework of the product, and with the advent of .NET with a much larger market and a vendor encouraging developers to write IDE add-ins, Mark left the Delphi community and halted maintenance on CodeRush for Delphi.

Today, I figured out how toggle Insert mode in Delphi 7.  VMWare is supposed to have a menu option to send special key codes to the guest OS, but for some reason Insert was not on my Send Key sub menu as shown in the VMWare docs.  To get around it, I went to VMWare Preferences for keyboard and mouse, enabled the key mappings and then added one.  I chose Alt + X to map to the Insert key and it works now…sort of.  The first time I press Alt+X Insert mode is toggled correctly, but if I continue to hold the Alt key and hit the X, the first or second time I start to get the ‘X’ character in the editor rather than toggling insert mode.  Hopefully this issue will be fixed as well as a couple other UI annoyances in the upcoming 2.02 release.  At any rate I would highly recommend a MacBook Pro with VMWare for all your Delphi development.

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