Using the Floating Form Designer in Delphi

The Floating Form Designer is often commented as one of the reasons many developers still love using Delphi 7 after almost 14 years. In that time Delphi has moved on a long way, firstly moving to the Galileo (docked) IDE, added unicode, 64bit compiler, Generics, Attributes, RTTI (or reflection for .Net people), FireMonkey, cross platform compilers for Mac, iOS and Android, AppTethering, Visual LiveBindings, Refactoring and many more IDE features.

Floating Form Designer Delphi 7
Floating Form Designer Delphi 7

However despite all the cool toys that have come in, a number of developers still love the floating form layout so much they have stuck with Delphi 7 rather than migrating up to newer versions for a number of legacy applications… if that is you… its finally time to get up to the latest version with the launch of 10.1 Berlin!

Enabling the Floating Form Designer

The IDE by default uses the embedded layout introduced with the Galileo IDE (as pictured below)

Embedded Form Designer Delphi
Galileo Embedded Form Designer

If you want to change to the old floating form designer, choose Tools > Options >  Form Designer.

Floating Form Designer Option
Embedded Designer –  Option

Here you will get a notice that you need to restart the IDE, when you do, you then end up with the classic undocked mode, with the addition of the floating form designer.

Floating Form Designer in 101 Berlin
Floating Form Designer with 2 forms open in 10.1 Berlin

12 thoughts on “Using the Floating Form Designer in Delphi”

  1. Somewhat amusingly, when you combine this feature with FireUI Preview, the result is utterly broken if you have more than 1 form – almost like the neither feature got any real testing.

    1. It looks ok to me. The select unit of code confirms the form you are actively wanting to preview. That is by design to allow for copying items from one form into the one without it swapping back and forth all the time. If you wanted it to swap to the form you have actively selected and not work off the open unit, then that sounds like an interesting feature request.

  2. Umm . . . the floating form designer did not go away with Galileo. It just wasn’t the default.

    1. Well, I now see that it is different in that the form designer is not a tab of the code editor window but instead is its own window.

  3. Just a note – the floating designer works for C++Builder 10.1 Berlin as well 😀 Can be used for VCL and FMX forms in both Object Pascal and C++ languages and multi-device targets.

  4. When did they take this option away from Galileo?
    It was in 2007 under Environment Options – VCL Designer

  5. At last you gave me my floating forms back having stolen it many years ago. What possessed you to take it away ? Thank you for bringing it back. (for those who are not veteran users it disappeared in XE releases. One of the reason I still use Delphi 7 is it has this feature … over 10 years ago. Sorry to burst anyone bubble.

  6. I still using Delphi 7 and I dont have reason to change it. Time to time I try something new, but always return to old-but-good Delphi 7.

  7. It actually never went away. I’ve XE3 & XE8 and both can be set to the undocked IDE by simply selecting “Classic Undocked” in the combo-box showing “Default Layout” on the main toolbar.

    1. Yes, Classic Undocked is very similar but doesn’t provide multiple floating forms where you can see the form and the code at the same time.

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