First things first: unit tests. Before you start to write a program, think about testing. Download DUnit if it is not already included in your version of Delphi. DUnit is Open Source. New versions of DUnit include automatic memory leak detection for all test cases, using FastMM4.
There are also add ons available for DUnit, for example the OpenCTF component test framework. If you are new to the idea of unit testing and DUnit, you should read this article. The Wikipedia also contains information about Test Driven Development.
Now it’s time to “turbo charge” your IDE with DelphiSpeedUp, a free plugin for Delphi/BCB/BDS/CodeGear RAD Studio. It speeds up the time to load the IDE and it also improves the whole speed of the IDE. Note that it does not improve the speed of compiled applications – but you can skip to the section More Speed below if this issue is very urgent.
Next in the list are the GExperts, an almost incredible set of tools built to increase the productivity of Delphi and C++Builder programmers by adding several features to the IDE. GExperts is Open Source and supports all editions of Delphi down to version 3. It offers a procedure list, grep search, to do lists, tab order and component replace wizards and many many more.
Another collection of useful IDE extensions, including a ‘uses list cleaner’, are the cnPack IDE Wizards (CnWizards), a Free Plug-in Tool Set for Delphi/C++ Builder. The list of wizards includes for example a “Uses Unit Cleaner” and “Source Codes Statistics”.
Some IDE extensions are also included in the Jedi Code Library package. For example, they can add a favorite folders combo box to the Delphi Open File dialog.
Waste no time to format your source code manually – use DelForExp, a freeware Pascal source code formatter for Delphi 2/3/4/5/6/7/9/2007 written by Egbert van Nes. At default, the style of the Borland source code is followed closely. For Delphi 2009, DelForExp is included in an experimental version of GExperts.
Your Delphi applications need more speed? One of the first things you can do (besides checking the code for the usual performance bottlenecks), is to use a faster memory manager. Newer versions of Delphi use FastMM4 by default, a lightning fast replacement memory manager for Borland Delphi Win32 applications. For older versions of Delphi, you can download it from SourceForge. FastMM4 is very easy to use and can also help to identify memory leaks.
In the software development circus, source version control is your safety net. If you do not have a preferred version control system, try the open source version control system Subversion. A Windows Explorer integration for Subversion, TortoiseSVN, is also available. It includes many useful tools, including a diff and merge application.