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Udemy online education course

On-line education on the Internet is moving from a more ad-hoc to a very organised, slick set of offerings. One of the pioneers in this new wave is Udemy, collecting in one place a set of expert course offerings.
I was contacted by Huw Collingbourne regarding a new Udemy course he has created for newcomers to Delphi (and Lazarus, its free equivalent). For those who do not know Huw, his name was well established for many years as a Delphi column writer for publications such as PC Plus here in the UK.
His clear writing style and understanding of Delphi transfer well to video presentation, a core part of the 'Learning to program in Pascal" Udemy course he offers, and which is the subject of this review. His voice is apparently adored by Americans, but to my British ears sounds a little deadpan. But well paced.
The course comprises dozens of palatably sized videos lasting over 7 hours in total, along with program files for all examples employed. And a very cleanly and clearly written pdf on the basics of Delphi that will act as a lasting reference.
The course assumes no Delphi or programming experience, which is ideal for newbies to comfortably get to grips with the basics. He covers the essentials of the language semantics and syntax along with error handling, object orientation concepts, file handling, and such-like, hand-holding all the way.
Matters such as virtual methods are tricky to understand for many, but Huw teaches it well by demonstrating a mini-application that intentionally fails to operate correctly until virtual methods are used in the right way. Huw understands, quite rightly, that just teaching how to do things is rarely enough for beginners. They need to know why, and what pitfalls to expect and how to overcome them. This is why he also makes a point of showing the basics of debugging, and how to use the excellent supporting tools that Delphi and Lazarus provide, such as tabular display of records being inspected. And this is probably why error handling spans a couple of videos.
The course is principally aimed at Delphi and Lazarus users, with examples interchangebly demonstrated in both systems. It appears to cover most bases, but Delphi and Lazarus are large beasts, with deep feature sets, so hands on for graphical widgets is kept to a minimum. This makes sense of course, as the focus of the course is the Pascal language.
There are some areas where greater depth might have been prudent, such as the except and finally sections of try error blocks. But there had to be a line drawn somewhere for fear of overload, and the balance is probably about right.
There is a Udemy app allowing the course to taken on an iPad for example, although it managed to crash when I tried it a few days after release. Hopefully just early teething problems.
Overall, the course is highly recommended for beginners, but would be too shallow for those wishing to get deeper into Delphi programming, especially the visual tools.


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