Building Windows 10 Applications with RAD Studio XE8

Written by Marco Cantu, RAD PM. Posted in News

This summer Microsoft is going to release a new major version of its flagship operating system, Windows 10. Microsoft Windows is the most used desktop operating system. The adoption of Windows 10 is expected to be biggest release of Windows ever. Microsoft is providing it as a free upgrade to existing Windows user and the new operating system reverts back some of the Windows 8 changes user didn’t particularly like. 

In Windows 8 Microsoft introduced a brand new user interface paradigm that was unfamiliar to most Window users who had become used to the Windows desktop metaphor of many overlapping windows. That interface preferred full screen applications (a metaphor common on tablets and mobile operating systems) to unify the desktop and mobile operating systems. With Windows 10, Microsoft has fine-tuned the user interface to bring back familiar elements that are desktop centric and more similar to Windows 7.

Installing and Using Windows 10

Microsoft has made it very simple to let users in general and also developers start experimenting with Windows 10. By joining the Windows Insider Program (https://insider.windows.com/) you can download and start using Windows 10 today. I’ve been using several preview builds over the past few months, and I have to say that I find Windows 10 quite nice to use, certainly easier and friendlier than Windows 8 (which I’ve also used for quite some time in the past).

I’m currently using Windows 10 Pro Insider Preview Build 10074, which sports a more “squared out” look than previous builds, as you can see below. I’m running it in a virtual machine.

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RAD Studio XE8 and Windows 10

Installing Delphi, C++Builder or RAD Studio XE8 on Windows 10 is quite smooth. Just use the standard installation and registration process (and remember that your XE8 license allows you to install the product on multiple computers, as long as you are the only user). It is likely you can also install previous versions of Delphi and C++Builder, but I’ve tested only some of the XE8 betas and the final RTM version of the product.

Here is RAD Studio running on Windows 10, with an empty form at design time.

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Once RAD Studio XE8 is installed you can start using it to build VCL and FireMonkey applications and test them on Windows 10. I’ve personally found no issue in doing that, as everything runs fine.

Running A Simple VCL Application

Below is the output of a simple “one-button-app” built with the VCL running on Windows 10, and calling the classic MessageDlg function when the button is clicked. Notice how the UI compares to Resource Explorer in Windows 10, how the form and the message dialog use the platform border styling, and how the button has the “square” look of Windows 10, rather than the more rounded style of past versions of Windows.

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The UI adapt to the operating system because VCL applications enable system theming by default (see the Application page in the Project Options dialog of the IDE). While the default is certainly good, you can also consider using custom VCL and FireMonkey styles to modernize the look and feel of the Windows applications you build. Between the Windows 8 “Metropolis” styles and the many other modern looking ones, you can pick a nice look and feel that does not look like a dated Windows XP application. This is how the same application will look like without the themes support enabled:

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Using “Newer” VCL Components

Notice the buttons style and 3D effect, the message box layout, and the other subtle differences. While styling is important, this isn’t the only feature of recent versions of RAD Studio that help your applications get proper platform integration. For VCL applications the list includes:

  • Using the TaskBar icon component to customize the TaskBar Button for the application, adding a progress bar, overlay icons, custom border button icons, custom previews, and multiple previews.
  • Using the JumpList component to add custom items to the TaskBar Button local menu, to refer directly to special actions, recently used files, and so on
  • Using the TrayIcon component to display classic notifications in the tray icon area
  • Using the Location components and other sensors, if you are running applications on a tablet device including support for that hardware
  • Using the TaskDialog component to create modern looking standard notification, confirmation, and progress dialogs
  • Using the FileOpenDialog common dialog instead of the old OpenDialog component
  • Using the Bluetooth component for wireless communication with devices

All of these features are enabled using components that can be used directly in VCL applications, as you can see in the following form at design time:

win10 05

Embarcadero has performed standard testing on various Windows 10 preview builds and supports using the XE8 IDE and XE8 compiled applications on it. So get ready for Windows 10 today with RAD Studio, Delphi, and C++Builder XE8.

Tags: Delphi C++Builder RAD Studio Windows VCL Windows 10

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Delphi and RAD Studio Product Manager at Embarcadero.