RAD Studio 10.4.1 is a quality-focused release, and this goes for the IDE! We’ve addressed many items including some very commonly requested changes; read more below.
A ‘quality-focused release’ means one where we introduce very few new features, and focus 95% of our development efforts on quality. 10.4.1 has had a lot of work in the IDE and will be much smoother for you once you install. But, in 10.4.1 we’ve also spent that time on new features, and we’ve implemented a couple of really commonly requested items.
There are two sections to this blog post: first, a change to an old IDE feature; second, a new feature, and key areas that you may be very happy we’ve focused on!
- The Floating Form Designer
- Layouts and Multiple Monitors: aka, ‘when does the IDE change things?’
- Notable Quality
Table of Contents
The Floating Form Designer
Ever since 2003, the RAD Studio IDE has been ‘docked’: that is, while you can drag tool windows like the Palette, Object Inspector, Messages, Watches and so forth to float, the overall design of the IDE is an integrated window. Specifically the editor and form designer are integrated in the main window.
The ‘floating form designer’ is when you turn this off, and it allows the form you are designing to be a window among other windows; that is, it’s not embedded in the main IDE, but mimics the Delphi 1-though-7 behaviour where the designed form can be above or behind the editor. This behaviour has been replaced by modern docked designing for seventeen years, requiring you to manually turn on the old-style feature, and unfortunately did not always behave well. When assessing the feature, we made the hard decision to remove it.
What does this mean? Does it mean you can’t have multiple editor or designer windows, for example? No! Very much not. In fact, you can still have multiple editor windows spread over multiple monitors too if you wish, with each one hosting a designed form… and we’ve even tweaked a wide range of areas and UX or behaviour tweaks while you do!
Two really notable items we’ve addressed in this area are:
- The IDE used to not work quite as you’d want when clicking on an item in the Structure pane: the Structure pane would sometimes scroll and the wrong item was selected. This is now resolved. If you click, it will select what you clicked on. I’m really glad to note this one.
- When you have multiple forms being designed at once, the Structure and Object Inspector windows would reflect the selection for the form designer in the window they were docked to. Now they always reflect the form you are editing. Ie, whatever you’re working on is what they’ll show information for, regardless of what’s docked where. The key to note here is how much better 10.4.1 is at handling form designing over multiple screens.
These were ‘annoyances’, things that might seem minor but got in the way when working. We’re glad to note the better behaviour in 10.4.1.
Layouts and Multiple Monitors: aka, ‘when does the IDE change things?’
When working with layouts and the designer, we also added one often-requested feature.
Desktop layouts save the position and location of your IDE windows, including the monitor your IDE is on. You can create your own or overwrite an existing one – just click the desktop/moon icon on the title bar, and save the desktop (choose a new name, or a pre-existing name.) The IDE switches between layouts automatically – which one it chooses when can be controlled on the IDE Options > IDE > Saving and Desktop page – but you can always choose one at any time by clicking one in the combo box on the title bar.
Although some people use the IDE across multiple monitors, eg designing on one screen and coding on another, it’s also common to have the IDE entirely full-screen on one monitor only and to move it to another screen when debugging. That is, you want your main monitor to display the IDE when doing normal development, and you want it to move to another monitor when debugging, so your app sits on the main monitor. This is possible by moving the IDE to another screen, and saving the Debug layout. Then, every time you debug the IDE will move to the second screen. The key is, this is every time. Sometimes you want some flexibility.
Many people don’t want to manually save layouts for specific screens. Instead, they want to just move the IDE and have it stay where you put it. In this scenario, in the past, if you dragged your IDE to the second screen and clicked Run, and hadn’t explicitly saved your Debug layout on the second monitor, the IDE would move itself back to the main screen as it switches layout. That’s likely not what you want.
In 10.4.1, we’ve introduced settings to control how the IDE moves itself, and this lets you tell the IDE ‘don’t move; stay where I put you’ or ‘only move in specific circumstances’. The new settings are in the Options dialog, IDE > Saving and Desktop section, ‘Layouts and multiple monitors’. This allows you to choose when the IDE can move screens when changing layouts.
The options are:
- Allow changing screen on any layout change: this is the old behaviour; the IDE will see which screen a layout was saved on, and move there
- Only allow changing screen toggling to/from the Debug Layout: this addresses the above scenario where you may want to have the IDE on your second monitor when debugging, but only then. It lets the IDE move only when starting or stopping debugging.
- Always keep the IDE on the same screen: the IDE will never change monitors. It will always stay where you put it.
These settings should greatly help you control where the IDE is placed. Remember, you can always save a layout via the desktop/moon icon on the title bar, and choose a layout via the combo box on the title bar. Doing so, combined with these new settings, will let you have the IDE both look and be located wherever you need, and let you configure it so it is always located and laid out how you want automatically.
There are over 800 quality fixes in 10.4.1, and the What’s New document has a huge list. This is just a selection of some issues you may have encountered that it’s particularly worth pointing out no longer occur:
- Packages can now have an automatic version suffix, instead of manually specifying the right version suffix with each new release
- The Options dialog (environment options) used to always open to show settings for the Win64 target platform; now it opens according to the currently active platform. This is a often-requested bug report, one we’re very glad to resolve.
- The Object Inspector also has tweaks around selection when clicking, as well as flickering when drawing.
- ‘Delete Invalid Paths’ in the path editors in the Options dialogs could, in the past, delete valid paths. Now, it only deletes invalid paths.
- You can scroll in the Options dialogs with the mousewheel
- The Projects view has some options available again through a dropdown on the toolbar
We don’t normally highlight issues, but these are worth noting because they are ones you likely encountered and it’s worth knowing they are resolved in 10.4.1.
RAD Studio 10.4.1 is out now. It’s a quality release, with a large focus on quality and improvements. As well as many tweaks and fixes in the IDE, there are some new features around layouts and multi-monitor that have been requested for some time, and which we hope you’ll really like having, as well as similarly some attention in quality areas that we think will be really popular.