Well, it finally got to me. I have spent literally YEARS tweaking Delphi DPROJ files culminating in a big issue where my projects would remote debug in Delphi 7 but not in any later Delphi IDE. Despite a lot of help and suggestions from you all over at StackOverflow I lived with this for a while but because the source had all been moved over to Unicode there came a point where I just HAD to get remote debugging working.
Finally, a solution. It turned out that because my projects have been through almost every Delphi IDE since Delphi 1.0 (I’m now on XE3), each IDE has had a little fiddle with the DPROJ file – I compared my old file with that created by deleting it and letting the IDE recreate it and there was just loads of stuff, mostly unintelligible. I suppose that it is logical that with such a complex XML file with so many options being fed into MSBUILD that like the registry, it’s easy to add but only a reformat cleans it properly.
So, I’d discovered that deleting the DPROJ’s and letting Delphi recreate them was GOOD. The BAD thing was that I then had to re-enter the search paths and compiler / linker settings for each one. This is a massive task and very prone to error. For example I have 84 DPR files in my general low-level library and some 500 DPR files under active management. There has to be a better way.
There was an interesting discussion where it was proposed that you do not publish your DPROJ files due to the fact that they are so full of data some of which is very local in nature. Whilst I agree that this promotes cleanliness, personally I commit every project DPROJ to our repository because without them it is not possible to quickly build a project. You can NEARLY get there with relative paths for each file specified in the DPR but there are still some settings that Delphi only gets from its DPROJ and which you WILL want to set. With the advent of the PaServer remote connector tool for cross-platform debugging, important profile information is stored in the DPROJ.
For a few IDE’s now the built-in IDE Configuration Manager has been tempting. It allows you to switch build configurations across multiple projects and allows the use of Option Sets. This is very exciting because it appears to allow an ‘empty’ DPROJ (i.e. one that you have just let Delphi re-create from the DPR) to have attached by reference a common *.optset file that actually contains your settings. Since a project folder might have many (in my case 90-odd) projects each of which are likely to need the same paths and settings this would be great. Sadly, at time of writing (XE3 17.0.4625.53395) I could not get relative paths in the common optset file to be brought into the MSBUILD source correctly (the same paths placed directly into the project options worked fine).
So, enter my new tool DprojMaker.
Flushed with a little understanding about what parts of the *.dproj files mean I decided to compare a ‘virgin’ DPROJ file which Delphi recreates for you if you don’t have one and the ‘good’ DPROJ file after you have placed a few useful project-specific settings into it. Not surprisingly there is little difference between two similar projects, only name, GUID etc. So I set out to take a working DPROJ file and to replace it’s project specific parts with common marker tags that could be later replaced with the info that you want. So for example the original DPROJ file started with:
The highlighted items are specific to your project, the rest of the data appears in ALL projects. By replacing these items with replacement marker tags such as:
I then set about creating a tool to automate this process with the target of having a per-folder ‘DPROJ template’ (or even a single file for general use!) and simple configuration files that specify what data is to patch this template.
This has been great. I now simply delete ALL my dproj files in a folder and replace them with a single config file that looks similar to:
Hopefully the *.optset option set solution will improve to give us predictable operation and ideally some logging to debug how multiple files are combining our data.
In the meantime, check out the DprojMaker download and see if it helps you too. Warning – very much alpha, so save your work first!