In Chapter 5, I discussed the core concepts of the TControl class and its derived classes in the VCL and VisualCLX libraries. Then, I provided a rapid tour of the key controls you can use to build a user interface, including editing components, lists, range selectors, and more. This chapter discusses other controls used to define the overall design of a form, such as the PageControl and TabControl. After these components, I'll introduce toolbars and status bars, including some slightly advanced features. This will give you the foundation material for the rest of the chapter, which covers actions and the Action Manager architecture.
Modern Windows applications usually have multiple ways of giving a command, including menu items, toolbar buttons, shortcut menus, and so on. To separate the actual commands a user can give from their multiple representations in the user interface, Delphi uses the concept of actions. In recent Delphi versions, this architecture has been extended to make the construction of the user interface on top of actions totally visual. You can now also let program users customize this interface easily, as is true in many professional programs. Finally, Delphi 7 adds to the visual controls supporting the Action Manager architecture a better and more modern UI, supporting the XP look and feel. On Windows XP, you can create applications that adapt themselves to the active theme, thanks to a lot of new internal VCL code.