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The Top 5 C++ IDE’s And Compilers Available Right Now

An IDE (Integrated Development Environment) 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, and UltraEdit. For a developer, beginner or professional, however, a C++ IDE is really important because of powerful tailored features like error highlights, auto code completion and help system which help with the process of writing the code plus the opportunity to run, test, debug, deploy, merge or transform code to run on other platforms (multiplatform coding) are also important. All these capabilities require a powerful IDE which is really a specialized tool to help developers create and test their code.

C++ is the most powerful programming language and as well as being one of the world’s most popular. It has many pre-defined variables, functions and libraries. Using a fast and reliable IDE is very important for beginners and professionals since it helps C++ developers in remembering which language features exist, how to use them and even detect errors when we get it wrong.

In this article we have listed the newest and best IDEs for C++ in 2021.

1. C++ Builder 11 (RAD Studio 11) Community Edition / Professional / Architect / Enterprise

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.

The Top 5 C++ IDE's And Compilers Available Right Now. A multi device preview along with the IDE shown in light and dark mode.

In 2021, Embarcadero announced the General Availability of RAD Studio 11. This release introduces several new features, enhancements, and quality updates in key areas including:   

  • Provision apps for Windows 11
  • Compile for Android API 30
  • Compile for macOS M-series (Apple Silicon) processors
  • Design on high-DPI 4k+ screens
  • View VCL Styles in design time
  • New & modernized VCL components  
  • Use enhanced remote desktop support to collaborate remotely 
The Top 5 C++ IDE's And Compilers Available Right Now. The RAD Studio IDE.

Please check this post about the RADS 11 for more details;


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.

See What’s New in RAD Studio 11

Download RAD Studio 11 Now

2. Visual C++ (Visual Studio 2019) Community Edition / Professional / Enterprise

With Visual Studio 2019, you’ll get best-in-class tools and services for any developer, any app, and any platform. Whether you’re using Visual Studio for the first time or you’ve been using it for years, there’s a lot to like in our current version!

Here’s a high-level recap of what’s new, all-up:

  • Develop: Stay focused and productive with improved performance, instant code cleanup, and better search results.
  • Collaborate: Enjoy natural collaboration through a Git-first workflow, real-time editing and debugging, and code reviews right in Visual Studio.
  • Debug: Highlight and navigate to specific values, optimize memory use, and take automatic snapshots of your application’s execution.
The Top 5 C++ IDE's And Compilers Available Right Now. A screenshot of Visual Studio.
Captured from the Official Visual Studio Video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5sJ4EewKGk)

For a complete list of everything that’s new in this version, see the release notes. And, for more info about what’s new in the 16.11 release, see the Visual Studio 2019 v16.11 is available now blog post.

For more details about the Visual Studio and its versions please check their official page here

3. Visual Studio Code with C++

Visual Studio Code (also called VS Code) is the most popular free IDE, published by Microsoft. We can say it is a free version IDE for beginners, students and for some professional usage. 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/.

The Top 5 C++ IDE's And Compilers Available Right Now. A screenshot of Visual Studio Code.

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. 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.

The Top 5 C++ IDE's And Compilers Available Right Now. A screenshot of the DEV C++ IDE editor.

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

If you are beginner and you want to learn and develop great C++ projects you can use Dev-C++.

The latest free version Dev-C++ can be downloaded from here

5. 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.

The Top 5 C++ IDE's And Compilers Available Right Now. A screenshot of the Eclipse IDE.

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

Why not download a free trial of C++ Builder today and see how it can accelerate your C++ development?

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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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