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IDE Objects: The Tool Palette

   

Introduction

When creating an application, you will be adding Windows controls, also called controls, to it. Most of the controls you will use reside on a window named Tool Palette. To access the Tool Palette:

  • On the main menu, you can click View -> Tool Palette
  • You can press Ctrl + Alt + P

The Sections of the Tool Palette

The Tool Palette is made of various sections. When the Tool Palette is floating, its top section displays the title Tool Palette on the left side of the Close button on the right side.

Under the title bar, the window displays a toolbar made of three buttons:

  • The most left button allows you to select a category to display
  • The middle button is a white arrow pointing to the top-left direction. When selected, this button indicates that no control is currently selected in the Tool Palette
  • The Filter button allows you to distinguish what controls should be made available.

 

On the Tool Palette, the controls are organized in categories based on various criteria, such as the type of control or the Microsoft release date of a series of controls. A container is a control whose main purpose is to host other controls. To design it, you pick up objects from the Tool Palette and drop them where desired.

The Tool Palette organizes its items in categories and each category is represented by a + button and a string as its name:

Tool Palette

If the available list of categories is not enough, you can add a new category of your choice. To do this, right-click anywhere in the Tool Palette and click Add New Category:

Tool Palette

You would be prompted to provide a name. After typing the new name, press Enter.

The Layout of a Category

To use an object of a particular category:

  • On the toolbar of the Tool Palette, you can click the left button and select a category from the list


  • On the Tool Palette, you can click the + button of the desired category

After selecting a category, it displays its items. By default, the items in each category are organized as horizontal wide buttons:

Tool Palette

Alternatively, you can list the items of a category as buttons of a list view. To do that, you must use the Properties of the Tool Palette. To display the Properties of the Tool Palette:

  • You can right-click the Tool Palette and click Properties
  • On the main menu, you can click Tools -> Options... In the left list, click Tool Palette

In the right section, you can remove the check mark on the Show Button Captions check box:

Options

Each control would then be represented by a button and no name:

Tool Palette

The Size of Tool Items in the Tool Palette

By default, the items in the Tool Palette appear as smal icons. RAD Studio gives an option among three sizes. To specify the size, display the Options dialog box. In the left list, click Tool Palette. In the Appearance section, click

  • Small
     
    With Captions Without Captions
    Tool Palette Tool Palette
  • Medium:
     
    With Captions Without Captions
    Tool Palette Tool Palette
  • Large:
     
    With Captions Without Captions
    Tool Palette Tool Palette
 
Author Note For the rest of our lessons, we will indicate a control using a medium size icon without caption. That will allow you to practice recognizing the controls.

Arrangement of Items in the Tool Palette

When C++Builder is installed, it adds the buttons in a certain order. If you find it more convenient, you can arrange the list of controls in an order of your choice. To change the position of an item in the list, click it and drag it either up or down.

After rearranging the items, if you want to put them back in the original arrangement, you can right-click the Tool Palette and click Reset Palette. To prevent the re-ordering of items, you can right-click the Tool Palette and click Lock Reordering.

As mentioned already, the Tool Palette is usually positioned to the lower-right section of the screen. If you don't like that position, you can change it. To do this, you can grab and drag its title bar.

 

The Names of Controls in the Tool Palette

In the Tool Palette, the controls are represented each by a specific button. Some of the buttons display an appearance that easily suggests their role. Some others may not be obviously identified. In any case, to find out what control a button represents, you can position your mouse on it. A small yellow box called a tool tip or a hint would display. In the tool tip, you will see Name followed by a name:

Tool Palette

 
From now on, each button on the Tool Palette will be called by its tool tip.

Rapid Application Development (RAD) consists of selecting the controls that are necessary for your application and use them as you see fit. There are various techniques you can use to add a control to your application.

 
 
 

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