One of the best sources of programming methods and ideas for Delphi is delphi.about.com. Zarko Gajic has put together a tremendous resource for the about.com people that has many topics and examples and other goodies on the site. It is very much worth a study by any Delphi programmer, and is well worth enduring all the ads that are there.
But I do subscribe to their free Delphi e-mail newsletter, and this issue had a very interesting topic. It gave information and links on how to program with the Microsoft Agent using Delphi. The Agent is that cute little character in Microsoft programs (the paperclip, Einstein, the bouncing ball, etc) that gives you help info, can do animations, and can talk. I keep fighting with my kids putting the animated kitty into Microsoft Office when I use it, and they keep changing it back to the doggy.
Well, Delphi can interact with the Agent and make it do and say things. In fact, you can even use Microsoft’s free kits to create and animate your own character, make it say what you want, and even lip-sync it to what it says! Now that is interesting! One day, when everything else is done with Behold (in the year 2023?), I’ll think of animating my Behold sun character.
I always spend some time researching Delphi techniques and seeing what’s new when I get the about.com and other newsletters sent to me. Another article especially of interest to me was “Using Delphi object to store configuration information”. That is just what I am working on right now, as I save my Organize information to .ini file in .ini format. The difficulty (which the article agrees with me on) is that the commands to store to and retrieve from the .ini files are tedious, different for saving and retrieving, cannot store complex structures easily, and is hard to maintain. They suggest an alternative method which looks viable. Spent some time studying this, but in the end, I decided to stick with what I’ve got and maybe write a few generalized routines to handle the .ini files which would be a reasonable good fix for the problems.