Delphi Language Basics:
20 Minute Delphi Primer: Displaying Things
Posted 2/26/2008 on 2/26/2008 and updated 10/24/2009
Take Away:

This primer is intended for those just getting started in Delphi and focuses on displaying things.


Displaying Things in Delphi

One of the easiest ways to learn a language is to jump right in and make it do things. You can take this tutierial right on-line. Just task switch beween your browser and Delphi. In this tutorial, you will create a form with several buttons on it. Each button will demonstrate a technique for displaying information to the user. Lets get started by doing the following to do steps.

To do:

  1. Start Delphi

Note We strongly recommend that you type in and run each exercise. Just reading about something isn't nearly as good as doing it.

1. Using ShowMessage

ShowMessage displays a simple dialog box with the text you provide it. It is one of the most used ways of displaying information.

To do:

  1. Create a new application by selecting File | New Application.
  2. Place a button on the form and change its Caption property to ShowMessage.
  3. Double click on the button to bring up the editor.
  4. Type line 3 from the code listing (on the right) between the begin and end.
  5. Run and test the program by selecting the Run VCR style button (looks like a play button).


  1. The user has no way to modify the text.
  2. Notice the semi-colon at the end of the line you typed in.
  3. If you have trouble compiling, try the copy/paste method to typing.

Code Listing

procedure TForm1.Button1Click(Sender: TObject); 
	ShowMessage('Hello World!'); 

2. Using MessageBox - Part I

MessageBox is similar to ShowMessage but gives you more control over how it displays. This one is a favorite of developers because it is a Windows API function wrapped in a Delphi method. This is important because many Windows development languages support the MessageBox function.

To do:

  1. Add a button to our form (this time change its Caption to MessageBox1).
  2. Double click on the button to bring up the editor.
  3. Type line 3 from the code listing between the begin and end.
  4. Run and test the program.


  1. The begin and end mark this methods code. Notice that the end has a ; after it.
  2. There is a main begin and end that mark the applications code. Notice the final end has a . after it. (You can see this by switching back to Delphi.)

Code Listing

procedure TForm1.Button2Click(Sender: TObject);
    Application.MessageBox('Hello World!', 'My First App', 0);

3. Using MessageBox - Part II

MessageBox also allows you to display multiple buttons and know which the user pressed. This is very usefull for limited yes/no type user interaction.

To do:

  1. Add a button to our form (set its Caption to MessageBox2).
  2. Double click on the button to bring up the editor.
  3. Type lines 2 and 3 from the code listing above begin.
  4. Type Lines 5 and 6 between the begin and end.
  5. Run and test the program.


  1. Notice we declared sAns to be an integer. Then assigned the return value from MessageBox to it.
  2. Because Pascal is a highly typed language, we must use methods like IntToStr to convert a value to the correct type for the given method (as in line 6).

Code Listing

procedure TForm1.Button3Click(Sender: TObject); 
iAns : Integer; 
	iAns := Application.MessageBox('Is this fun?', 'Question', MB_YESNO); 	

4. Using InputBox

InputBox allows you to set a value, display it to the user, and have the user change it. Although InputBox generally isnt flashy enough for finished applications, it is great for debugging and smaller in-house applications.

To do:

  1. Add a button to our form (set its Caption to InputBox).
  2. Double click on the button to bring up the editor.
  3. Add lines 2, 3, 5, and 6 from the code listing to it.
  4. Run and test the program.


  1. Notice we used to the + symbol to concatenate two strings (a literal and a variable).
  2. Because themethod Button4Click belongs to the class TForm1, the first line must include both to uniquely identify the method. Youll learn a lot more about object oriented programming as you learn Delphi. For now, this simple definition will work.

Code Listing

procedure TForm1.Button4Click(Sender: TObject);
	sAns : String; 
	sAns := InputBox('Question', 'What is your name?', 'Tiger Woods'); 	
	ShowMessage('Hello ' + sAns); 

5. Using the StatusBar Component

The StatusBar component allows you to write text to the status bar. This is one of the most common ways to display information to a user without stopping their work.

To do:

  1. Add a StatusBar component from the Win95 tab to the form.
  2. Change the SimplePanel property of the StatusBar to True.
  3. Add a button to our form (set its Caption to StatusBar).
  4. Add lines 2 and 3 from the code listing to the Click event of the button.
  5. Run and test the program.


  1. Notice we used two apostrophies in a row to represent one apostrophe in a literal string.
  2. Notice the use of dot notation in line 3 to set a property of an object.

Code Listing

procedure TForm1.Button3Click(Sender: TObject); 
	StatusBar1.SimpleText := 'Isn''t this cool!'; 


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