April 27, 2013

Enabling floating form designer in Delphi XE4

Delphi XE4 has an interesting feature removed from previous versions: the floating VCL form designer. You can enable it again easily, at your own risk.

While the IDE is not running, launch the registry editor, locate the key  HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Embarcadero\BDS\11.0\Form Design and set the "Embedded Designer" to False.

Note: Don't do that if you use FireMonkey. It's form designer doesn't work when floating.

If you need sometimes to have the floating form designer and sometimes not, you way ask the IDE to load his options from another registry key. Use the "-r MyRegKey" in a new shortcut to BDS.EXE. The first time you launch Delphi with that option, the registry key is created with a copy of the current standard key. You can then change the options without affecting the standard registry key. You can also change packages and so on.

Screen dump of my typical Delphi desktop during development (Dual full HD 24" screen)

Please share this article as much as possible in the hope Embarcadero will again enable this incredibly useful feature.

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Eric said...

Floating designer is IME one of the last advantages the Delphi IDE has over Eclipse or Visual Studio.
Another thing they're throwing away, and a pity... :(

Unknown said...

VS2012 has a floating designer and I use it with Oxygene all the time.

Petar Georgiev said...

I really don't find Floating IDE feature very useful. I wonder what are your arguments for using it? Please, let me know?

FPiette said...

As I said, I like to have my form and the code visible at the same time. I always use the form, object inspector and code editor simultaneously to navigate thru my application. I have simultaneously several forms visible and frequently two code editors. This is how I'm the most productive.
Should I say that I use two full HD monitors ?

fabricioaraujo_rj said...


I have D2010 and XE2 on my work. Both allow to use the float form designer (while it's not active by default).

In Delphi XE3 Wiki the Embedded Designer checkbox is documented in VCL Designer topic.

Only in XE4 that it does not appear.

FPiette said...

Fabricio, the floating VCL designer has been removed starting from Delphi XE3. Both XE3 and XE4 actually still have it but as my articles explain, they must be activated thru the registry.
If you found in XE3 documentation that it is available in the Tools/options page, then the doc is wrong.

fabricioaraujo_rj said...

It's really an sad thing. I barely tolerate the embedded designer of VS.

Unknown said...

I really can't mount large screens using Embedded Designer. Floating designer is a must to me.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, great info. I could not find it anywhere else.

Anonymous said...

Great trick, also works with Builder XE5

ZardoZ said...

Thanks! Thanks! Really usefull function. Work with XE7.

Anonymous said...

It is just a half solution. Unfortunatelly the floating forms have a living "stay on the top" feature. It makes the code editor unaccessable. If you minimize the form to use the editor, the compiler get crazy and the app will start in minimized state. How can I switch off the stay on the top feature?