Property Access

Every property has a read specifier, a write specifier, or both. These are called access specifiers and they have the form read fieldOrMethod write fieldOrMethod where fieldOrMethod is the name of a field or method declared in the same class as the property or in an ancestor class.

  • If fieldOrMethod is declared in the same class, it must occur before the property declaration. If it is declared in an ancestor class, it must be visible from the descendant; that is, it cannot be a private field or method of an ancestor class declared in a different unit.
  • If fieldOrMethod is a field, it must be of the same type as the property.
  • If fieldOrMethod is a method, it cannot be dynamic and, if virtual, cannot be overloaded. Moreover, access methods for a published property must use the default register calling convention.
  • In a read specifier, if fieldOrMethod is a method, it must be a parameterless function whose result type is the same as the property's type. (An exception is the access method for an indexed property or an array property.)
  • In a write specifier, if fieldOrMethod is a method, it must be a procedure that takes a single value or const parameter of the same type as the property (or more, if it is an array property or indexed property).

For example, given the declaration property Color: TColor read GetColor write SetColor; the GetColor method must be declared as function GetColor: TColor;

and the SetColor method must be declared as one of these:

procedure SetColor(Value: TColor); procedure SetColor(const Value: TColor);

(The name of SetColor's parameter, of course, doesn't have to be Value.)

When a property is referenced in an expression, its value is read using the field or method listed in the read specifier. When a property is referenced in an assignment statement, its value is written using the field or method listed in the write specifier.

The example below declares a class called TCompass with a published property called Heading. The value of Heading is read through the FHeading field and written through the SetHeading procedure.


THeading = 0..359; TCompass = class(TControl) private

FHeading: THeading;

procedure SetHeading(Value: THeading); published property Heading: THeading read FHeading write SetHeading;


Given this declaration, the statements if Compass.Heading = 180 then GoingSouth; Compass.Heading := 135;

correspond to if Compass.FHeading = 180 then GoingSouth; Compass.SetHeading(135);

In the TCompass class, no action is associated with reading the Heading property; the read operation consists of retrieving the value stored in the FHeading field. On the other hand, assigning a value to the Heading property translates into a call to the SetHeading method, which, presumably, stores the new value in the FHeading field as well as performing other actions. For example, SetHeading might be implemented like this:

procedure TCompass.SetHeading(Value: THeading); begin if FHeading <> Value then begin

FHeading := Value;

Repaint; // update user interface to reflect new value end;


A property whose declaration includes only a read specifier is a read-only property, and one whose declaration includes only a write specifier is a write-only property. It is an error to assign a value to a read-only property or use a write-only property in an expression.

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