Delphi - Property Editors

As a designer, your ability to create custom property editors is one of the reasons that Delphi is SO good. Basically, you have the ability to create a dialog box to edit one or more properties in any way you want. (You can also use a drop down list or an indented list of related properties.) The only thing missing is a really good tutorial to walk you through a couple of examples.

Borland provides some help and examples on this important subject - if you know where to look.


Basic TPropertyEditor Definitions | Example | Accessing Related Properties | Custom Component Editors

Basic TPropertyEditor Definitions

In Delphi 5 Pro, the basic property editors (TPropertyEditor, TStringProperty and the like) are defined in In Delphi 6, they are in These files contains very detailed help on the properties and methods related to designing your own property editors. However, there is no *.dcu file for these ... just the source.

According to Readme.txt (Delphi 5), dsgnintf.dcu is not provided and, even if you compile it yourself, you are not allowed to redistribute it. Therefore, property editors should not be defined in the same unit (*.pas file) as your run-time code. According to Borland, you are actually not allowed to combine them in the same package.

This is the uses clause from KADaoReg.pas - notice that the definition files are different depending on which Delphi version you are using.

I prefer to use these compiler directives because they work in Delphi versions 5, 6, & 7.

Because part of the Delphi 6 source code necessary to compile DesignWindows and DesignEditors is not available (specifically ComponentDesigner.pas and proxies.pas), add designide.dcp to the *.dpk file's requires clause.

Simply adding

to Project / Options... / Directories/Conditionals / Search path. won't work - DesignWindows won't compile because ComponentDesigner.pas is not available and DesignEditors won't compile because proxies.pas is also not available.

What ever happened to Proxies.pas? completely describes the Property Editor differences between Delphi 5 and Delphi 6 and explains how editors should be written.

How to split a *.dpk file

Alright, Borland wants me to use 2 *.dpk files - so I'll just split the one I have ... simple.

I used File / New... / Package to create a new *.dpk file. When I tried to add mcFile_IO_PropEdit.pas it complained that a different version was already in the path. Solution - I added the version in the path (not the copy I wanted).

I saved it as dcl_mc50_PropEdit.dpk

When I pressed compile, I was prompted to add dcl_mc50.dpk (reasonable since the property editor is registered to work with one of its classes).

Next was an error because mcFile_IO_PropEdit.pas was also in dcl_mc50.dpk. So I deleted it and recompiled them both (in the "correct" order).

Finally, I installed dcl_mc50_PropEdit.dpk ... and it seems to work.

Example from KA Dao

This example (from KADaoReg.pas) is a small part of a 39K file. (I've added a few comments)
  TEngSystemDatabaseNameEditor = class(TStringProperty)
      Procedure Edit;override;
      Procedure SetValue(const Value: string); override;
      Function  GetAttributes: TPropertyAttributes; override;

TDBDatabaseNameEditor = class(TStringProperty)
      Procedure Edit;override;
      Procedure SetValue(const Value: string); override;
      Function  GetAttributes: TPropertyAttributes; override;

//************************************************************** Database Editor
Function TDBDatabaseNameEditor.GetAttributes: TPropertyAttributes;
  Result:= [paDialog];                    // This displays the button with 3 dots

Procedure TDBDatabaseNameEditor.SetValue(const Value: string);
if GetComponent(0) is TKADaoDatabase then
    inherited SetValue(Value);

procedure TDBDatabaseNameEditor.Edit; // Called when the button with 3 dots is pressed
   FileName : String;
   DBase    : TKADaoDatabase;
   Filename := DBase.F_ChooseDatabase;     // this function displays the dialog box
   if Filename <> '' then begin
      Modified;        // According to the help, this is not required with SetStrValue

procedure Register;

Accessing Related Properties

The basic TPropertyEditor methods GetValue and SetValue only access the currently selected property. If you want to access other properties associated with this object, use code similar to the following.

Custom Component Editors

Custom component editors are dialog boxes (modal forms) that allow the designer to modify more than one property at a time. These editors are only available at design time, never at run time. Your component editor must descend from TComponentEditor (defined in dsgnintf.pas (D5) or DesignEditors.pas (D6)).

There are 2 ways that custom component editors can be called

Register your editor with


Delphi Property and Component Editors provides an in depth description and tutorial.

Author: Robert Clemenzi -
URL: http:// / user / clemenzi / technical / Languages / Delphi / Property_Editors.html