Friday, October 2, 2009

C++ IDEs --> The Most Popular Six IDEs For Developing Software in C/C++

This Article is not mine, The Source Here


For all the languages getting created these days, a decent IDE seems to be created even before the development of the language reaches the final stage ;) But even after being in the academics and in the industry for more than three decades, there isn’t one consistently released, active C++ IDE project for the Windows platforms. Some names that come to mind when thinking about C++ IDEs for Windows platform are: DevC++, MinGW Studio, Emacs, Microsoft Visual Studio, CodeBlocks, Eclipse etc. Except DevC++, I use all the other C++ IDEs fairly regularly even today whenever I get to work in Windows.

1. DevC++

DevC++ C++ Programming IDE Screenshot
DevC++ is one of the most popular C++ IDEs amongst the student community as I was able to see during my visits to a few C++ forums on the Internet - 8 out of 10 people on such forums stated that they use DevC++ IDE and whole-heartedly recommend it to the others. I have heard very few complaints from such DevC++ fans, which makes me wonder why I was never able to make myself to like this development tool, DevC++ always looked ugly and unintuitive to me. Most of the C++ programmers from the student community have exactly the opposite to say about it though and it is the first choice for those who want to develop Windows applications using SDL, wxWidgets or DirectX SDK. DevC++ IDE uses MinGW port of gcc as the compiler. It is also an actively developed product though the rate at which it is developed seems to be a bit low. I have read that it is now supported on gnu/linux platform too though I have never tried it myself outside of Windows platform.

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2. MinGW Studio

MinGW Studio C++ IDE Screenshot
MinGW Studio is my answer to all the DevC++ fans. I like the interface of the MinGW Studio IDE very much, and it loads fast and runs fast. MinGW Studio also uses MinGW port of gcc as the back-end compiler and has good integration with wxWidgets SDK. Both DevC++ and MinGW support slightly older versions of gcc, which forces the users to compile gcc from the source if they want to use a more later version of it. The biggest factor that goes against this IDE is that the development of MinGW Studio is almost like having stopped. It seems like ages since the last useful feature was added to this product, though it is still good enough for light-weight C++ development. I have used it on both Windows and GNU/Linux and it works the same way on both the platforms(though it remains a secret why someone would use it on GNU/Linux platform).

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Screenshots: Windows and GNU/Linux

3. GNU Emacs and XEmacs

Using Emacs as an IDE for C++ development is only for those who already know how to use emacs; otherwise it entails considerable investment in learning how to use the emacs editor(the effort will more than get paid off in the end). People coming from *nix background feel right at home using emacs for C++ development, but it is not a natural choice for those who have only Windows background with them. Remember that the achievable productivity levels with the emacs editor(for development with standard C++, not platform specific extensions) is comparable to that of Visual Studio and Eclipse IDEs, if not higher. XEmacs is a variant of GNU Emacs that is very popular on Windows.

More Information: GNU Emacs & XEmacs
Download GNU Emacs
Download XEmacs

4. Microsoft Visual C++ 2005

Visual C++ 2005 Express Edition Screenshot
Microsoft has come a long way with its support for C++ Standard since the Visual C++ 6.0 version of its popular IDE. Visual Studio 2005/Visual C++ 2005 Express Edition support the C++ Standard as good as any other popular C++ compiler and allows, to a large extent, developing pure C++ applications without bothering with Windows specific extensions. The new versions of the IDE also support keyboard commands for most of the operations, which means the usage of the mouse can be minimized by those seeking to be productive. The cost of the IDE has also come down for those who need a basic C++ IDE with no extra support for Windows specific extensions - the Express Edition is totally free of cost and Microsoft claims that it will remain to be free forever.

Visual C++ 2005 Express Edition:
Feature Tour

5. Eclipse for C++ with CDT

Eclipse for C++ IDE is becoming the #1 choice for the C++ programmers as the support for this language keeps on increasing with improvements in the CDT plugin. Eclipse can be used on GNU/Linux platform too; on Windows, one needs to have gcc already installed on the system(say, MingW gcc port). Then installing Eclipse along with CDT plugin will get you ready to go. The only glitch here is that the integration between the installed gcc package and Eclipse doesn’t go smoothly for everyone(in my observation). An integrated package of [gcc port + Eclipse + CDT] should be very helpful in this case. Programmers need to write their own build scripts(eg. Makefile) to build the C++ programs in Eclipse for C++. In the long term, Eclipse for C++ should become increasingly appealing for C++ development on Windows.

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Download EasyEclipse for C++

6. Code::Blocks

Code::Blocks C++ IDE Screenshot
My first choice for a light-weight C++ development environment has changed from MinGW Studio to Code::Blocks IDE in the last year. Like MinGW Studio, Code::Blocks IDE also loads and runs at good speed, uses MinGW as back-end compiler and its interface is also to my liking. Where Code::Blocks scores over MinGW Studio is the amount of development that is taking for this product: new code is added almost on a daily basis. Code::Blocks can also be used under GNU/Linux operating system.

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There are other excellent editors available that allow developing software in C++ language - like SciTE, notepad2, notepad++ etc. - but none of them support direct support to build the entire application from one place. Drop in a word if you have some other development environment for developing C++ applications that is not listed here as your favourite one under the Windows operating system.

  1. NetBeans with C/C++ pack (Runs on Windows, MacOS, Linux, Solaris):



    Comment by Jose — January 2, 2007 @ 11:33 pm

  2. Thanks for reminding me about the C++ support added recently to the NetBeans IDE. I will try to make a separate post on development with C++ language using the NetBeans IDE.


    Comment by tabrez — January 3, 2007 @ 8:53 pm

  3. Borland Developer Studio 2006 and Turbo C++ (2006) are also viable alternatives



    Comment by Delphite — January 4, 2007 @ 2:43 pm

  4. And soon my favourite IDE - KDevelop - will also be available not only on Linux but also on Mac OS X and Windows.


    Comment by Tsiolkovsky — September 19, 2007 @ 7:47 pm

  5. A port of KDevelop to the Windows and Mac OS will be very helpful in developing Qt based applications on these platforms. But I have never been a big fan of KDevelop even on GNU/Linux for writing non-QT C++ code. Instead of trying to make the life of C++ programmers more and more easy(e.g. better integration with build tools), the KDevelop developers keep working on new language extensions. Who would want to do serious Java development in KDevelop and MonoDevelop? After the success of Eclipse, everybody now wants to support every language created on the planet: Netbeans, IntelliJ IDEA, KDevelop - you name it.


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