C++ Development Tools

April 4, 2010

When I wrote my C++ Programming: Visual QuickStart Guide book back in 2005 (with co-auth0r Andreas Signer), I had to decide what software to recommend for C++ beginners. As with most languages, full-time experienced programmers may like serious, complete tools, or commercial products, but I often find that software on that level can provide too much of a learning curve for someone simultaneously trying to learn a programming language. What I like to recommend in my books is software that’s approachable, reliable, and, preferably, free. So, for the C++ book, I recommend Bloodshed’s Dev-C++ for Windows.

At that time, Dev-C++ was more or less a standard for beginners (and it was free). I used either version 4 or the beta of version 5 for the book and for years readers seemed to be fine with Dev-C++. Now it seems that either Dev-C++ is no more or just not a good enough option. The Dev-C++ Web site is down, although I don’t know yet if the site is down for good. You can still download Dev-++ from Sourceforge, but it’s the five-year old version.

In searching for good alternatives to Dev-C++ (I don’t use Windows regularly, so couldn’t make a recommend on that myself), I came across a post about why you shouldn’t use Dev-C++. That writer recommended Programmer’s Notepad, Code::Blocks (which also runs on Mac OS X and Linux), and the free edition of Microsoft’s Visual Studio.  I haven’t used any of these, so I can’t personally recommend them, although I have used the full version of Microsoft’s Visual Studio (years ago for C# programming in ASP.NET), and can attest to how good it is as an IDE. In the comments to that post, some readers still say that Dev-C++ is so much easier to learn with than the others, so I wouldn’t rule that out entirely.