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0.6 — Installing an Integrated Development Environment (IDE)

An Integrated Development Environment (IDE) is a piece of software that contains all of the things you need to develop, compile, link, and debug your programs.

With a typical C++ IDE, you get a code editor that does line numbering and syntax highlighting. Many (but not all) IDEs include a C++ compiler and a linker, which the IDE will know how to interface with in order to convert your source code into an executable file. And when you need to debug your program, you can use the integrated debugger.

Furthermore, IDE’s typically bundle a number of other helpful editing features, such as integrated help, name completion, auto-formatting, and sometimes a version control system. So while you could do all of these things separately, it’s much easier to install an IDE and have them all accessible from a single interface.

So let’s install one! The obvious next question is, “which one?”. Many IDEs are free (in price), and you can install multiple IDEs if you wish, so there’s no “wrong decision” to be made here. We’ll recommend a few of our favorites below.

If you have some other IDE in mind, that’s fine too. The concepts we show you in these tutorials should generally work for any decent modern IDE. However, various IDE’s use different names, layouts, key mappings, etc… so you may have to do a bit of searching in your IDE to find the equivalent functionality.

Visual Studio (for Windows)

If you are developing on a Windows machine (as most of you are) and disk space and download size are not a constraint, then we strongly recommend Visual Studio Community 2017. When you run the installer, you’ll eventually come to a screen that asks you what workload you’d like to install. Choose Desktop development with C++. If you do not do this, then C++ capabilities will not be available.

The default options selected on the right side of the screen should be fine, but please ensure that the Windows 10 SDK is selected. The Windows 10 SDK can be used on older versions of Windows, so don’t worry if you’re still running Windows 7 or 8.

Visual Studio Workload

If disk space and/or download size are a challenge, then we recommend Microsoft’s free Visual Studio Express 2017 for Windows Desktop, which you can find towards the bottom of the page.

Code::Blocks (for Linux or Windows)

If you are developing on Linux (or you are developing on Windows but want to write programs that you can easily port to Linux), we recommend Code::Blocks. Code::Blocks is a free, open source, cross-platform IDE that will run on both Linux and Windows.

For Windows users

Make sure to get the version of Code::Blocks that has MinGW bundled (it should be the one whose filename ends in mingw-setup.exe). This will install MinGW, which includes a Windows port of the GCC C++ compiler:

Code::Blocks MinGW Windows download

When you launch Code::Blocks for the first time, you may get a Compilers auto-detection dialog. If you do, make sure GNU GCC Compiler is set as the default compiler and then select the OK button.

Compilers Auto Detection dialog

With Code::Blocks, C++11/C++14/C++17 functionality may be disabled by default. You’ll definitely want to check and turn it on. First, go to Settings menu > Compiler:

Code::Blocks Settings > Compiler

Then find the box or boxes labeled Have g++ follow the C++XX ISO C++ language standard [-std=c++XX]:, where XX is 11, 14, or some other higher number (see the items inside the red box below for examples):

Code::Blocks C++11 setting

Check the one with the highest number (in the above case, that’s the C++14 option inside the red box).

Your version of Code::Blocks may also have support for experimental, or just released versions of C++. If so, this will be labeled Have g++ follow the coming C++11YY (aka C++XX) ISO C++ language standard [-std=c++ZZ] (see the blue box above). You can optionally check these if you would like to enable features in that version, but note that support may be incomplete (e.g. some features may be missing).

Q: I want to enable C++17 features in Code::Blocks, but I don't see a -std=C++17 option

If you see an option for -std=C++1z, that is equivalent (C++17 was called C++1z before they knew what year it would be finalized).

Alternatively, you can go to the Other Compiler Options tab and type in -std=c++17.

Code::Blocks Other Compiler Options

This will work if your compiler has C++17 support. If you’re using an older version of Code::Blocks and C++17 features don’t seem to work, upgrade your compiler.

Q: I'm getting a "Can't find compiler executable in your configured search paths for GNU GCC Compiler" error

Try the following:

  1. In you’re on Windows, make sure you’ve downloaded the version of Code::Blocks WITH MinGW. It’s the one with “mingw” in the name.
  2. Try going to settings, compiler, and choose “reset to defaults”.
  3. Try going to settings, compiler, toolchain executables tab, and make sure “Compiler’s installation directory” is set to the MinGW directory (e.g. C:\Program Files (x86)\CodeBlocks\MinGW).
  4. Try doing a full uninstall, then reinstall.
  5. Try a different compiler.

Mac OSX IDEs

Popular Mac choices include Xcode (if it is available to you), or Eclipse. Eclipse is not set up to use C++ by default, and you will need to install the optional C++ components.

Although Visual Studio for Mac has been released, as of Aug 2018 it does not support C++, so at this time we can not recommend it.

Can I use a web-based compiler?

Yes, for some things. While your IDE is downloading (or if you’re not sure you want to commit to installing one yet), you can continue this tutorial using a web-based compiler, such as the one at TutorialsPoint.

Web-based compilers are fine for dabbling and simple exercises. However, they are generally quite limited in functionality -- many won’t allow you to save projects, create executables, or effectively debug your programs. You’ll want to migrate to a full IDE when you can.

Can I use a command-line compiler (e.g. g++ on Linux)?

Yes, but you’ll need to find your own editor and look up how to use it elsewhere.

When things go wrong (a.k.a. when IDE stands for “I don’t even…”)

IDE installation seems to cause its fair share of problems. Installation might fail outright (or installation might work but the IDE will have problems when you try to use it due to a configuration issue). If you encounter such issues, try uninstalling the IDE (if it installed in the first place), reboot your machine, disable your antivirus or anti-malware temporarily, and try the installation again.

If you’re still encountering issues at this point, you have two options. The easier option is to try a different IDE. The other option is to fix the problem. Unfortunately, the causes of installation and configuration errors are varied and specific to the IDE software itself, and we’re unable to effectively advise on how to resolve such issues. In this case, we recommend copying the error message or problem you are having into a Google search and trying to find a forum post elsewhere from some poor soul who has inevitably encountered the same issue. Often there will be suggestions on things you can try to remedy the issue.

Moving on

Once your IDE is installed (which can be one of the hardest steps if things don’t go as expected), or if you’re temporarily proceeding with a web-based compiler, you are ready to write your first program!


0.7 -- Compiling your first program
Index
0.5 -- Introduction to the compiler, linker, and libraries

462 comments to 0.6 — Installing an Integrated Development Environment (IDE)

  • Bob Ross

    Are there any IDE's or recommended websites for Lenovo Chromebook (or just google based)?

  • David

    HI, I own a Lenovo PC that is running Windows 10 S. That means it is running in Safe Mode and is the recommended mode for security. I would ideally like to keep it that way, but in "S mode" it won't let me download anything like a compiler, let alone and IDE. I know there is the option to switch out of the S mode, but is there any way around this while still keeping the PC secure?

    • Alex

      I couldn't say. You could use a web compiler temporarily (at least long enough to see if you like the lessons and want to stick with them) before making a call.

  • Christian

    Hello and thank you for these tutorials. Which IDE should I download if I am using Ubuntu on a Windows machine? Still the ones suggested for Windows or those for Ubuntu?

  • P-z

    Hello, I'm using Linux Mint 18.3 with the kernel 4.10.0-38 and I encountered this problem with Code::Blocks.

    When I tried to compile a simple "Hello World" program with g++, it exited with error code 127.  This was because g++ was never installed.  After I installed it it compiled fine, but it wasn't running. I tried running the command shown in the build log manually and it said xterm wasn't installed either.
    After I installed both of those, everything worked fine.

    If anybody else encounters these errors, just use this command to download both of them from your repository:

    ~ P-z

      • Haguen

        As another solution for the xterm issue, you can do this in case you're using Linux Mint Mate:

        1 - click on Settings->Environment...
        2 - Select General Settings on left panel ( I guess it's selected by default, it is the first icon in the panel)
        3 - locate the last option 'Terminal to launch console programs: xterm -T $TITLE -e'
        4 - change it to : mate-terminal -t $TITLE -x

        The difference of the last parameter is that for mate-terminal the '-e' option won't ask you to press ENTER when running the project from CodeBlocks causing the terminal window to blink preventing you to check the output.
        The option to print the title is in lowercase for mate-terminal.

        Alex, it could be a good idea to inform this option in your lesson.

        Cheers !

  • Manish

    I am getting the below error. Please help

    1>C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio\2017\Community\Common7\IDE\VC\VCTargets\Microsoft.CppCommon.targets(273,5): error MSB6006: "CL.exe" exited with code -1073741515.

  • Mixhail

    use xcode for macs

  • 丞煒

    Is this free? download and use?
    Though it's hard for me to read English,
    hope it will help me.
    Thank you!

  • Jacob

    There is a version of Visual Studio for Macs. You can find it via this link:

    https://www.visualstudio.com/vs/mac/

    • Alex

      Good call out. I've integrated that information into the lesson. Thanks!

      • Nic

        Hi Alex, I downloaded Visual Studio for Mac and I believe the consensus is that it does not support C++

        https://stackoverflow.com/questions/49221954/using-c-in-visual-studio-community-2017-on-mac
        https://visualstudio.microsoft.com/vs/features/cplusplus/

        Bummer : /

  • Joe

    Trying to download code::blocks

    getting “Can’t find compiler executable in your configured search paths for GNU GCC Compiler”

    searched around for the file you said it should have in dos, but I find mingwm10.  is this comparable?

    • Joe

      update

      possible solution for code::blocks

      https://stackoverflow.com/questions/23254518/cant-find-file-executable-in-your-configured-search-path-for-gnc-gcc-compiler

  • Mark

    There are only minor syntax changes for c++ 11 iso c++ language standard and c++14 iso c++ language standard right?

    • nascardriver

      Hi Mark!

      Quoting Wikipedia:
      1    New language features
      1.1    Function return type deduction
      1.2    Alternate type deduction on declaration[5]
      1.3    Relaxed constexpr restrictions
      1.4    Variable templates
      1.5    Aggregate member initialization
      1.6    Binary literals
      1.7    Digit separators
      1.8    Generic lambdas
      1.9    Lambda capture expressions
      1.10    The attribute [[deprecated]]
      2    New standard library features
      2.1    Shared mutexes and locking
      2.2    Heterogeneous lookup in associative containers
      2.3    Standard user-defined literals
      2.4    Tuple addressing via type
      2.5    Smaller library features

      - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C%2B%2B14

      Try getting a compiler that supports C++17.

  • Brian

    I am downloading on a windows 10 but I am running the IDE on a windows xp which IDE should I get.

  • Aditya prasad

    I have turbo c++ not Microsoft's visual c++ , so would that make any difference or would i have to download the latter .

    • nascardriver

      Hi Aditya!

      Turbo C++ is discontinued so it might lack new language features, I suggest you to get an up-to-date compiler.
      There's no need for msvc++, you can use any compiler you want.

  • Munachi

    Is there anyone for ios??

  • Munachi

    Lol i dont even know what my mates are doing here

    I love programming i have tried to understand it but no way ;(

  • Roland

    Is visual studio 2017 community free or a trial version? I got a notification saying that the trial license will expire, was wondering if anyone could let me know what it means?

  • Aleks

    Nascardriver,
    Thank you!

  • Aleks

    #include <iostream>
    #include <cmath>
    #include <iomanip>

    using namespace std;

    int main()
    {
    long double i = 0, sum = 0;
    for(;i <= 63; i ++){
    cout « "..." « i « "..." « setprecision(21)« pow(2,i) « endl;
    sum = sum + pow(2,i);
    }
    cout « "........" « setprecision(21) « sum « endl;

    return 0;
    }

    1. Display in cpp.sh ((sizeof(long double) == 16bytes)) 18446744073709551615 (true);
    2. Display in VS2017 ((sizeof(long double) == 8bytes)) 18446744073709551616(false);

    Why did I get such results when compiling?

    • nascardriver

      Hi Aleks!

      This has to do with the binary representation of a double. You'll get the same range but less precision.

      Please use code tags next time.

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