Windows users have a wealth of choice when it comes to programming in C++. There are loads of IDEs and compilers available, including Visual Studio from Microsoft. However, in our opinion, the best C++ IDE to begin with is Code::Blocks. Code::Blocks is a free C++, C and Fortran IDE that is feature rich and easily extendible with plugins. It’s easy to use, comes with a compiler and has a vibrant community behind it too.
Start Using C++
Step 1 – To start using C++, we suggest you begin by visiting the Code::Blocks download site, at www.codeblocks.org/downloads. From there, click on the ‘Download the binary releases’ link to be taken to the latest downloadable version for Windows.
Step 2 – There you can see, there are several Windows versions available. The one you want to download has mingw-setup.exe at the end of the current version number. At the time of writing this is: codeblocks-17.12mingw-setup.exe. The difference is that the mingw-setup version includes a C++ compiler and debugger from TDM-GCC (a compiler suite).
Step 3 – When you’ve located the file, click on the Sourceforge.net link at the end of the line and a download notification window appears; click on Save File to start the download and save the executable to your PC. Locate the downloaded Code::Blocks installer and double-click to start. Follow the on-screen instructions to begin the installation.
Step 4 – Once you agree to the licencing terms, a choice of installation options becomes available. You can opt for a smaller install, missing out on some of the components but we recommend that you opt for the Full option, as default.
Step 5 – Next choose an install location for the Code::Blocks files. It’s your choice but the default is generally sufficient (unless you have any special requirements of course). When you click Next, the install begins; when it’s finished a notification pops up asking you if you want start Code::Blocks now, so click Yes.
Step 6 – The first time Code::Blocks loads it runs an autodetect for any C++ compilers you may already have installed on your system. If you don’t have any, click on the first detected option: GNU GCC Compiler and click the Default button to set it as the system’s C++ compiler. Click OK when you’re ready to continue.
Step 7 – The program starts and another message appears informing you that Code::Blocks is currently not the default application for C++ files. You have two options, to leave everything as it is or allow Code::Blocks to associate all C++ file types. Again, we would recommend you opt for the last choice, to associate Code::Blocks with every supported file type.
Step 8 – There’s a lot you can do in Code::Blocks, so you need to dig in and find a good C++ tutorial to help you get the most from it. However, to begin with, click on File > New > Empty File. This creates a new, blank window for you to type in.
Step 9 – In the new window, enter the following:
//My first C++ program
Std::cout << “Hello World!\n”;
Notice how Code::Blocks auto-inserts the braces and speech quotes.
Step 10 – Click File > Save as and save the code with a .cpp extension (helloworld.cpp, for example). Code::Blocks changes the view to colour code according to C++ standards. To execute the code, click on the Build and Run icon along the top of the screen. It’s a green play icon together with a yellow cog.