RAD Studio (Common)
Tour of the IDE

When you start RAD Studio, the integrated development environment (IDE) launches and displays several tools and menus. The IDE helps you visually design user interfaces, set object properties, write code, and view and manage your application in various ways.  

The default IDE desktop layout includes some of the most commonly used tools. You can use the View menu to display or hide certain tools. You can also customize and save the desktop layouts that work best for you. 

The tools available in the IDE depend on the edition of RAD Studio you are using and include the following:

  • Welcome Page
  • Accessibility Options
  • Forms
  • Form Designer
  • Tool Palette
  • Object Inspector
  • Object Repository
  • Project Manager
  • Data Explorer
  • Structure View
  • History Manager
  • Code Editor
  • File Browser
  • Themes for Windows Vista
The following sections describe each of these tools.

The IDE uses Windows Vista or Windows XP themes. If you prefer the classic look in the IDE and in your application, you can turn off theming on the ProjectOptions dialog box.

When you open RAD Studio, the Welcome Page appears with a number of links to developer resources, such as product-related articles, training, and online Help. As you develop projects, you can quickly access them from the list of recent projects at the top of the page. If you close the Welcome Page, you can reopen it by choosing ViewWelcome Page.

The IDE's main menu supports MS Active Accessibility (MSAA). This means that you can use the Windows accessibility tools from the Start Menu via All ProgramsAccessoriesAccessibility.

Typically, a form represents a window or HTML page in a user interface. At design-time, a form is displayed on the Designer surface. You add components from the Tool Palette to a form to create your user interface. 

RAD Studio provides several types of forms, as described in the following sections. Select the form that best suits your application design, whether it’s a Web application that provides business logic functionality over the Web, or a Windows application that provides processing and high-performance content display. To switch between the Designer and Code Editor, click their associated tabs below the IDE. 

To access forms, choose FileNewOther.

Windows Forms

Use Windows Forms to build native Windows applications that run in a managed environment. You use the .NET classes to build Windows clients, which presents two major advantages—it allows application clients to use features unavailable to browser clients, and it leverages the .NET Framework infrastructure. Windows Forms present a programming model that takes advantage of a unified .NET Framework (for security and dynamic application updates, for instance) and the richness of GUI Windows clients. You use Windows controls, such as buttons, list boxes, and text boxes, to build your Windows applications. 

To access a Windows Form, choose FileNewOtherDelphi for .NET ProjectsWindows Forms Application.

VCL Forms

Use VCL Forms to create native applications using VCL components or to create applications that use VCL.NET components to run in the .NET Framework.  

VCL Forms are useful if you want to port an existing Delphi application containing VCL controls to the .NET environment, or if you are already familiar with the VCL and prefer to use it. 

You use the classes in the CodeGear Visual Component Library for .NET to create a VCL Forms application.  

To access a VCL Forms, choose FileNewOtherVCL Forms Application.

ASP.NET Web Forms

Use ASP.NET Web Forms to create applications that can be accessed from any Web browser on any platform. You use the .NET classes to create a ASP.NET Web Forms application. The form consists of the visual representation of the HTML, the actual HTML, and a code-behind file.  

To access an ASP.NET Web Form, choose FileNewOtherDelphi for .NET ProjectsWindows Forms Application.

The Form Designer, or Designer, is displayed automatically in the center pane when you are using a form. The appearance and functionality of the Designer depends on the type of form you are using. For example, if you are using an ASP.NET Web Form, the Designer displays an HTML tag editor. To access the Designer, click the Design tab at the bottom of the IDE.

Visual Components

Visual components appear on the form at design-time and are visible to the end user at runtime. They include such things as buttons, labels, toolbars, and listboxes.

Form Preview

A preview icon at the bottom right of the Designer (for VCL Forms) shows the positioning of your form as it appears on the screen at runtime. This allows you to position the forms of your application in relation to each other as you design them.

HTML Designer

Use the HTML Designer to view and edit ASP.NET Web Forms or HTML pages. This Designer provides a Tag Editor for editing HTML tags alongside the visual representation of the form or page. You can also use the Object Inspector to edit properties of the visible items on the HTML page and to display the properties of any current HTML tag in the Tag Editor. A combo box located above the Tag Editor lets you display and edit SCRIPT tags. 

To create a new HTML file, choose FileNewOtherWeb DocumentsHTML Page.

Nonvisual Components and the Component Tray

Nonvisual components are attached to the form, but they are only visible at design-time; they are not visible to end users at runtime. You can use nonvisual components as a way to reuse groups of database and system objects or isolate the parts of your application that handle database connectivity and business rules.  

When you add a nonvisual component to a form, it is displayed in the component tray at the bottom of the Designer surface. The component tray lets you distinguish between visual and nonvisual components.

Design Guidelines

If you are creating components for a form, you can register an object type and then indicate various points on or near a component's bounds that are "alignment" points. These "alignment" points are vertical or horizontal lines that cut across a visual control's bounds. 

When you have the alignment points in place, you can supply UI guideline information so that each component adheres to rules such as distance between controls, shortcuts, focus labels, tab order, maximum number of items (listboxes, menus), etc. In this way, the Form Designer can assist the Code Developer in adhering to established UI guidelines. 

If the Snap to Grid option is enabled, and Use Designer Guidelines is also enabled, the designer guidelines take precedence. This means that if a grid point is within the tolerance of the new location and a guideline is also within that distance away, then the control snaps to the guideline instead of the grid position, even if the guideline does not fall on the grid position. The snap tolerance is determined by the grid size. Even if the Snap to Grid and Show Grid options are disabled, the Designer still uses the grid size in determining the tolerance. 

This feature is currently only available in VCL and VCL.NET only (This includes C++). See the link at the end of this topic for more information about setting Designer Guidelines.

The Tool Palette, located on the right-hand column, contains items to help you develop your application. The items displayed depend on the current view. For example, if you are viewing a form on the Designer, the Tool Palette displays components that are appropriate for that form. You can double-click a control to add it to your form. You can also drag it to a desired position on the form. If you are viewing code in the Code Editor, the Tool Palette displays code segments that you can add to your application.

Customized Components

In addition to the components that are installed with RAD Studio, you can add customized or third party components to the Tool Palette and save them in their own category.

Component Templates

You can create templates that are made up of one or more components. After arranging components on a form, setting their properties, and writing code for them, you can save them as a component template. Later, by selecting the template from the Tool Palette, you can place the preconfigured components on a form in a single step; all associated properties and event-handling code are added to your project at the same time. You can reposition the components independently, reset their properties, and create or modify event handlers for them just as if you had placed each component in a separate operation.

The Object Inspector, located on the left, lets you set design time properties and create event handlers for components. This provides the connection between your application’s visual appearance and the code that makes the application run. The Object Inspector contains two tabs: Properties and Events.  

Use the Properties tab to change physical attributes of your components. Depending on your selection, some category options let you enter values in a text box while others require you to select values from a drop-down box. For Boolean operations, you toggle between True or False. After you change your components’ physical attributes, you create event handlers that control how the components function. 

Use the Events tab to specify the events for a specific object you select. If there is an existing event handler, use the drop-down box to select it. By default, some options in the Object Inspector are collapsed. To expand the options, click the plus sign (+) next to the category. 

Certain nonvisual components, for example, the Borland Data Providers, allow quick access to editors such as the Connection Editor and Command Text Editor. You can access these editors in the Designer Verb area at the bottom of the Object Inspector. To open the editors, place your cursor over the name of the editor until your cursor changes into a hand and the editor turns into a link. Alternatively, you can right-click the nonvisual component, scroll down to its associated editor and select it. Note that not all nonvisual components have associated editors. In addition to editors, this area can also display hyperlinks to show custom component editors, launch a web page, and show dialog boxes.

To simplify development, RAD Studio offers pre-designed templates, forms, and other items that you can access and use in your application.

Inside the Object Repository

The Object Repository contains items that address the types of applications you can develop. It contains templates, forms, and many other items. You can create projects such as class library, control library, console applications, HTML pages, and many others by accessing the available templates. 

To open the Object Repository , choose FileNewOther. A New Items dialog box appears, displaying the contents of the Object Repository . You can also edit or remove existing objects from the Object Repository by right-clicking the Object Repository to view your editing options.

Object Repository Templates

You can add your own objects to the Object Repository as templates to reuse or share with other developers. Reusing objects lets you build families of applications with common user interfaces and functionality to reduce development time and improve quality. 

You can add a starter project, demo, template, or other useful file to the Object Repository and then make it available through the New menu. Choose ProjectAdd to Repository. Select your file. Now when you select the FileNew command, you can choose the file you just added and work with a new copy of it. 

RAD Studio allows you to create multiple custom template libraries to use as the basis for creating future projects. Template libraries let you to declare how projects can look, and they enable you to add new types of projects to the Object Repository.

A project is made up of several application files. The Project Manager, located in the top right-hand column, lets you view and organize your project files such as forms, executables, assemblies, objects, and library files. Within the Project Manager, you can add, remove, and rename files. You can also combine related projects to form a project group, which you can compile at the same time.

Add References

You can integrate your legacy COM servers and ActiveX controls into managed applications by adding references to unmanaged DLLs to your project and then browse the types, just as you would with managed assemblies. Choose ProjectAdd Reference to integrate your legacy COM servers or ActiveX controls. Alternatively, right-click the Reference folder in the Project Manager and click Add Reference. You can add other .NET assemblies, COM/ActiveX components, or type libraries using the Add Reference feature.

Copy References to a Local Path

During runtime, assemblies must be in the output path of the project or in the Global Assembly Cache (GAC) for deployment. In the Project Manager, you can right-click an assembly and use the Copy Local setting to copy the reference to the local output path. Follow these guidelines to determine whether a reference must be copied.

  • If the reference is to an assembly created in another project, select the Copy Local setting.
  • If the assembly is in the GAC, do not select the Copy Local setting.

Add Web References

You can quickly add a Web Reference to your client application and access the Web Service you want to use. When you add a Web Reference, you are importing a WSDL document into your client application, which describes a particular Web Service. Once you import the WSDL document, RAD Studio generates all the interfaces and class definitions you need for calling that Web Service. To use the Add Web Reference feature, from your Project Manager, right-click the Web Services node.

The Data Explorer lets you browse database server-specific schema objects, including tables, fields, stored procedure definitions, triggers, and indexes. Using the context menus, you can create and manage database connections. You can also drag and drop data from a data source to most forms to build your database application quickly.

The Structure View shows the hierarchy of source code or HTML displayed in the Code Editor, or components displayed on the Designer. When displaying the structure of source code or HTML, you can double-click an item to jump to its declaration or location in the Code Editor. When displaying components, you can double-click a component to select it on the form.  

If your code contains syntax errors, they are displayed in the Errors folder in the Structure View. You can double-click an error to locate its source in the Code Editor.  

You can control the content and appearance of the Structure View by choosing ToolsOptionsEnvironment OptionsExplorer and changing the settings.

The History Manager, located in the center pane, lets you see and compare versions of a file, including multiple backup versions, saved local changes, and the buffer of unsaved changes for the active file. If the current file is under version control, all types of revisions are available in the History Manager. The History Manager is displayed to the right of the Code tab and contains the following tabbed pages:

  • The Contents page displays current and previous versions of the file.
  • The Diff page displays differences between selected versions of the file.
  • The Info page displays all labels and comments for the active file.
You can use the History Manager toolbar to refresh revision information, revert a selected version to the most current version, and synchronize scrolling between the source viewers in the Contents or Diff pages and the Code Editor and for window navigation (such as Go to next diff).

The Code Editor, located in the center pane, provides a convenient way to view and modify your source code. It is a full-featured, customizable, UTF8 editor that provides refactoring, automatic backups, Code Insight, syntax highlighting, multiple undo capability, context-sensitive Help, Live Templates, Smart Block Completion, Find Class, Find Unit/Import Namespace, and more. Choose the Code Editor link in the section below to view descriptions for each of these Code Editor features.

You can perform basic file operations using the File Browser, a dockable Windows style browser pane. Open the File Browser to search, rename, or perform source control operations on a file.  

To perform an operation on a file, choose ViewFile Browser, browse to the file, right-click the file, and select the operation to perform.

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