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Before You Start a New Delphi Project


I do not know when and where, but long time ago I read the following:
"Delphi programming is the mutts nuts. You can start off not knowing anything about programming, within 1 hour you can write a program and at the end, still know nothing about programming :-)"

From my experience I can suggest a few steps you should follow and a few tools you should have to master Delphi programming.

The "steps" will help you get from the "I have an idea" to the full blown Delphi build application. The tools should be the building blocks of a Delphi project - tools you need before you start a new Delphi project.

What Delphi? This can also be Done Using Delphi?

First things first. Since you are reading this I guess your already have selected your environment for creating Windows applications, and that it is, well, Delphi :)

Nice! Welcome aboard. Do you know that Delphi can do Win32 applications as well as .NET applications? Do you know there are different Delphi versions and that you should know how to pick your Delphi version?

When you know what Delphi version you should pick, you should make sure you know how to create applications using Delphi. Free Delphi online courses should help.

1. How to Layout Delphi Project Files (Best Practice) for Source Control System

Ok this is now for real. Do not even start a single form application if you do not have some kind of source control set up.

Also, do not put all files in a single folder - make sure you follow some Delphi project organisation best practices.

After a month or two, year or two, you might want to go back to your first application and change something - but you do not have the source code :(

Source / Revision Control, in short, helps you have a place to store your source code, provides a historical record of what you have done over time, can provide a way for developers to work on separate tasks.

2. Extra VCL Controls

Depending on your Delphi version, you will have more than 100 ready made components you can use. Delphi Components are a part of the VCL. You can place VCL components on forms and manipulate their properties without writing code.

Developers write different programs. One developer will be happy with the out-of-the-box edit control (TEdit) provided in the VCL while another would need an super-turbo edit control that knows what a user is about to write even if he/she does not have a keabord :)

Creating custom components can also be interesting, but you can always look for free Delphi control libraries.

3. Glyphs, Icons, Graphics. Delphi IDE Plug-Ins and Add-Ons

Ok, it is not that you can not create a Delphi application without a nicely looking user interface but if you want to stand out and make your application user interface elements look professional and unique you'll need a few extra icons and glyphs.
Delphi controls and the VCL allow you to easily setup toolbars, menus and other user interface elements with custom graphics.

Delphi IDE provides all the tools you need to design, develop, test, debug, and deploy applications, allowing rapid prototyping and a shorter development time. Want more? Here's how to add more functionality to Delphi IDE and make your job easier.

4. Bug and Exception Logging System

Yes, even the applications that you write are prone to bugs. Sooner or later, as the program grows, a user of your application will call you saying something like: "there's a dialog saying something about some 'access violation' - the application then crashed, what should we do?"

5. Reporting System

As your application grows you'll start to look for a reporting system. Some included some from third-party - reporting tools let you easily create complex reports that are linked directly into your Delphi EXE. Most of the tools provide all the means for you to develop reports, including a report engine, report designer, previewer, ...

6. Help Authoring

Documentation and the help system is essential when users are working with your applications. Help your users with multiple language support, WYSIWYG interfaces, and more. You can create manuals in PDF, HTML, HTML Help, Windows Help and RTF.

7. Setup and Install Building Tools

Even though most Delphi applications can ship as a single EXE file - you should invest the time into creating a professional installation package.
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