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Top 6 C++ IDEs For Building Native Windows Apps In 2020

An integrated development environment (IDE) is a software application that provides a complete set of features for application development. Code is generally written in text format, and you can easily edit or modify your code using text editors like Notepad, Word, Wordpad, etc. For a developer (beginner or professional), however, an IDE is really important because features like highlights, auto code completion and help system, and the opportunity to run, test, debug, deploy, merge or transform code on other platforms (multiplatform coding) are also important. All these capabilities require a powerful IDE.

C++ is the most powerful programming language and one of the world’s most popular programming languages with many variables, functions and libraries. Using a fast and reliable IDE is very important for beginners and professionals, and in this article we have listed the newest and best IDEs for C++ in 2020.


1. C++ Builder (RAD Studio)

C++ Builder is the easiest and fastest C and C++ IDE for building simple or professional applications on the Windows, MacOS, iOS & Android operating systems. It is also easy for beginners to learn with its wide range of samples, tutorials, help files and LSP support for code. C++ Builder comes with Rapid Application Development Studio, also known as RAD Studio, and C++ Builder is one of the most professional IDE’s that work under RAD Studio. It is the oldest IDE (it began as Borland TurboC in 1990 and was later renamed Borland C++ Builder). Under the Embarcadero brand it comes with new versions, features, updates and support. RAD Studio’s C++ Builder version comes with the award-winning VCL framework for high-performance native Windows apps and the powerful FireMonkey (FMX) framework for cross-platform UIs. There is a free C++ Builder Community Edition for students, beginners and startups.
You can download the free C++ Builder Community Edition here: https://www.embarcadero.com/products/cbuilder/starter.
Professional developers can use the Professional, Architect or Enterprise versions of C++ Builder. Please visit https://www.embarcadero.com/products/cbuilder.

You can use C++ Builder to:

  • Rapidly design your Windows application with VCL to ensure unmatched native performance
  • Easily drag and drop visual and non-visual components from the palette using our award-winning visual designer
  • Quickly extend your visual UIs with components from multiple certified partners
  • Use FMX if you have cross-platform use cases and want to use the same code base
  • Save time by easily binding data sources visually to user interface elements using the LiveBindings Designer
  • Implement real-time design validation using Live On-Device Preview to broadcast the active form to multiple devices simultaneously
  • Add a responsive design with high DPI resolution-aware components for desktop, tablets, and smartphones
  • Leverage platform-specific native controls for an improved UX

2. Embarcadero Dev-C++

Embarcadero Dev-C++ is free, and is a fast, portable and simple C/C++ IDE for Windows. The free version is great for beginners. If you want to develop professionally it is highly recommended you start with C++ Builder CE version.
Dev-C++ can be downloaded from https://www.embarcadero.com/free-tools/dev-cpp/free-download.

Embarcadero Dev-C++ is a new and improved fork (sponsored by Embarcadero) of Bloodshed Dev-C++ and Orwell Dev-C++. It is a full-featured Integrated Development Environment (IDE) and code editor for the C/C++ programming language. It uses the MinGW port of GCC (GNU Compiler Collection) as its compiler. Embarcadero Dev-C++ can also be used in combination with Cygwin or any other GCC based compiler. Embarcadero Dev-C++ is built using the latest version of Embarcadero Delphi. Embarcadero Dev-C++ also has a low memory footprint because it is a native Windows application and does not use Electron.

Features of Embarcadero Dev C++ include:

  • TDM-GCC 9.2.0 32/64bit
  • Support GCC-based compilers
  • Integrated debugging (using GDB)
  • GPROF profiling
  • Project Manager
  • Customizable syntax highlighting editor
  • Class Browser
  • Code Completion
  • Code Insight
  • Function listing
  • AStyle code formatting support
  • GPROF Profiling support
  • Quick creation of Windows, console, static libraries and DLLs
  • Support of templates for creating your own project types
  • Makefile creation
  • Editing and compiling of Resource files
  • Tool Manager
  • Devpak IDE extensions
  • Print support
  • Ability to find and replace facilities
  • CVS support

3. Visual Studio Code

Visual Studio Code (also called VS Code) is the most popular free IDE, published by Microsoft. We can say it is a free version of Visual Studio. It can be used with MinGW Linux Simulation (with GNU C/C++ Compiler) to develop C++ applications running on the command console. It is the most well-known open-source code editor for a wide variety of languages, and it can act as an IDE with the right extensions. This developer-environment tool also offers multiplatform support and is excellent for developers seeking customization and a high degree of flexibility. However, Visual Studio Code is built in Electron and can consumer more resources than other native IDEs.
Visual Studio Code can be downloaded from https://code.visualstudio.com/.

Here are some of Visual Studio Code’s popular features:

  • It is free to use
  • Easy to use and develop
  • It is lightweight
  • Auto code completion
  • Syntax highlighting
  • Command line area
  • Debugger
  • Themes and extensions
  • Deployment tools
  • Git support

4. Eclipse

Eclipse is another integrated development environment (IDE) used in computer programming. It is written mostly in Java and its primary use is for developing Java applications, but it can also be used to develop applications in other programming languages. It requires MinGW Linux Simulation (with GNU C/C++ Compiler) to develop applications.

Here are some of features of Eclipse that make it popular:

  • Open-source software
  • Available on Windows, Linux, Mac OS X
  • Debugging, compiling, profiling, auto-completion of code, and refactoring (i.e. code can be restructured without changing external behavior)
  • It has a GUI to arrange an element using drag and drop functionality

5. Code::Blocks

CodeBlocks is a free open source C and C++ IDE designed to meet the most demanding needs of its users. Nowadays it is popular among young coders. It is designed to be highly extensible and fully configurable, and it can be extended with plugins. It requires MinGW Linux Simulation (with GNU C/C++ Compiler) or Borland C++ 5.5 for application development.

Code Blocks IDE can be downloaded from the official web page : http://www.codeblocks.org/

Here are some CodeBlocks features developers love:

Highlights:
Open Source!
GPLv3, no hidden costs
Cross-platform, runs on Linux, Mac, and Windows (uses wxWidgets)
Written in C++, no interpreted languages or proprietary libs needed
Extensible through plugins

Compiler:
Multiple compiler support
GCC (MingW / GNU GCC)
MSVC++
clang
Digital Mars
Borland C++ 5.5
Open Watcom
Very fast custom build system (no makefiles needed)
Support for parallel builds (utilizing your CPU’s extra cores)
Multi-target projects
Workspaces to combine multiple projects
Inter-project dependencies inside workspace
Imports MSVC projects and workspaces (NOTE: assembly code not supported yet)
Imports Dev-C++ projects
…and more

Debugger:
Interfaces GNU GDB
Also supports MS CDB (not fully featured)
Full breakpoints support
Code breakpoints
Data breakpoints (read, write and read/write)
Breakpoint conditions (break only when an expression is true)
Breakpoint ignore counts (break only after certain number of hits)
Display local function symbols and arguments
User-defined watches (support for watching user-defined types through scripting)
Call stack
Disassembly
Custom memory dump
Switch between threads
View CPU registers

Interface:
Syntax highlighting, customizable and extensible
Code folding for C, C++, Fortran, XML and many more files.
Tabbed interface
Code completion
Class Browser
Smart indent
One-key swap between .h and .c/.cpp files
Open files list for quick switching between files (optional)
External customizable “Tools”
To-do list management with different users


6. CLion

CLion (called as Sea Lion) includes modern C++ standards, libc++ and Boost. It requires MinGW Linux Simulation (with GNU C/C++ Compiler) to develop applications. It supports the macOS, Linus, and Windows operating systems integrated with the CMake build system.
CLion can be downloaded from their official web page: https://www.jetbrains.com/clion/.

CLion’s strengths and weaknesses include:

  • It is not easy to launch new project for the first time, you need to configure some compiler settings manually before it becomes easy to launch
  • It has context analysis to make your coding faster
  • Symbol, file or class navigation is easy
  • It generates code for you and eliminates unnecessary typing

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About author

33+ years of coding with more than 30+ programming languages, mostly C++ on Windows, Android, Mac-OS, iOS, Linux and some other operating systems. Dr. Yilmaz Yoru was born in 1974, Eskisehir-Turkey. He graduated from the department of Mechanical Engineering of Eskisehir Osmangazi University in 1997. One year later he started to work in the same university as an assistant. He received his MSc and PhD degrees from the same department of the same university. He has married and he is a father of a son. Some of his interests are Programming, Thermodynamics, Fluid Mechanics and Artificial Intelligence. He also likes the graphical 2D & 3D design and high-end innovations.
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Top C++ Compilers for Windows in 2020
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