In a visual programming tool such as Delphi, the role of the integrated development environment (IDE) is at times even more important than the programming language. Delphi 7 provides some interesting new features on top of the rich IDE of Delphi 6. This chapter examines these new features, as well as features added in other recent versions of Delphi. We'll also discuss a few traditional Delphi features that are not well known or obvious to newcomers. This chapter isn't a complete tutorial of the IDE, which would require far too much space; it's primarily a collection of tips and suggestions aimed at the average Delphi user.
If you are a beginning programmer, don't be afraid. The Delphi IDE is quite intuitive to use. Delphi itself includes a manual (available in Acrobat format on the Delphi Companion Tools CD) with a tutorial that introduces the development of Delphi applications. You can find a simpler introduction to Delphi and its IDE in my Essential Delphi online book (discussed in Appendix C, "Free Companion Books on Delphi"). Throughout this book, I'll assume you already know how to carry out the basic hands-on operations of the IDE; all the chapters after this one focus on programming issues and techniques.