Best C++ IDE for Windows? I review 4 or 5 or 6 solutions on windows

Eclipse + MinGW + GCC 4.5 or GCC 4.6 + CMake
That is my new development environment.

It took me ages to get it set up correctly, first of all I struggled to find a good editor besides Visual Studio. I’ve used Visual Studio exclusively for 7 years now and I’ve been looking for a decent replacement to the VC++ IDE for several years now simply because as the IDE goes, it’s too expensive, too lacking of features and it has a HUGE installation footprint. The best thing to me about Visual Studio was not however Visual Studio, but Visual Assist X, that is what was keeping me from moving over to GCC + some other IDE. I’m very special when it comes to syntax coloring, in my first experiences as a programmer (Using EasyUO back in 2000) I immediately found UltraEdit and set up a custom syntax highlighting scheme for the language I was using (EUO script), so when I decided I wanted a different development environment other than Visual Studio, the fact that VAX produced much better C++ syntax highlighting than anything else really kept me from straying too far. That and their super handy open file in solution keyboard shortcut.

Here are the alternatives I’ve used most recently along with the reasons I dont like them:

  • Netbeans 6.9:
    • Too slow for parsing code if you don’t configure the JVM startup parameters to use the parallel GC
    • Syntax highlighting was not optimal for me, it had too few options
    • Project configuration was also a pain because while it did some stuff automatically, it required a great deal of manual fixing in order to get it working just right
  • Code::Blocks:
    • Syntax highlighting was not optimal for me, it had too few options, basically it was limited to the same set of options as Visual Studio for C++, but without any plugins to help it like Visual Assist X
    • The navigation features of the IDE are very lacking, for example, there is no “open file in project” shortcut that I could find
    • The code completion was also not as good as I wanted
  • Notepad++:
    • Syntax highlighting was not optimal for me, it had too few options, basically it was limited to the same set of options as Visual Studio for C++, but without any plugins to help it like Visual Assist X
    • It’s a pure text editor, but without an integrated file tree browser, like what Programmer’s Notepad has, so oepning files had to be done manually
    • No decent code completion that I could find.
  • Programmers Notepad:
    • Syntax highlighting was not optimal for me, it had too few options, basically it was limited to the same set of options as Visual Studio for C++, but without any plugins to help it like Visual Assist X
    • There was not a shortcut to switch to an already open file without cycling through all open files.
    • No decent code completion that I could find.
  • KDevelop 4: This was the IDE that I most wanted to work well. It had a lot of features that I liked, decent code completion, awesome adaptive syntax highlighting that I really liked and it supported CMake project files right out of the box, but…
    • It kept crashing. I built from source every day and none of the crashes seemed to get fixed
    • It was really slow. When I typed something that could trigger autocompletion, in my project I would experience 2-4 second pauses in which I could no longer type.
    • It didn’t remember my project configuration for launching/debugging, so every time I wanted to launch my project, I had to manually tell it which one to launch and where the binary was located
  • Eclipse CDT: This, as my title says, is what I am currently using, and I prefer it now over everything else because it has the right combination of navigation shortcuts, good syntax highlighting and basic refactorings, plus it has good automatic source code formatting. Oh yeah, it also has great multi monitor support:
    Eclipse MultiMon Support

    • Parsing of projects can be slow, even with tuned JVM options
    • The output console should have some coloring similar to a normal cmd prompt.
    • If a warning or error is outside of your projects code base, the prolem window will not automatically navigate to that error spot for you.
    • No direct supporting of CMake files, you have to generate the CDT project w/ cmake outside of the source directory, which took me a while to figure out, so if your code is in:c:\code\project1

      your project directory needs to be:

      c:\code\project1-builddir

Advertisements

~ by ra1ndog on August 20, 2010.

2 Responses to “Best C++ IDE for Windows? I review 4 or 5 or 6 solutions on windows”

  1. Even I have just moved to Eclipse CDT.
    I like it just like Visual AssitX barring one feature: Suggestions as you type which is available in VAX.
    I haven’t been able to find a similar replacement in CDT 😦
    Typing CTRL+SPACE all the time is asking for too much 😦
    I was able to get this in Java but not in CDT, any ideas?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: