What is the best C/C++ IDE?

What is the best C/C++ IDE?

Preferably with the easiest set-up (that is, install and go, no compiler installation), but answers without the above are fine.

  • Bonus points for lightweight blazing fast IDEs, even those who are used mainly for one click or one short cut key (for example, F11). Compiling and running simple C/C++ programs (mostly one source file). Like Dev-C++ on Windows.


Gopal SharmaI do web stuff

207.5k Views · Most Viewed Writer in Integrated Development Environments

It really depends on what platform you're on.

If you're on Windows, Visual Studio is a *fantastic* IDE for C/C++. In my opinion the best. It has debugger visualizations for C++ standard library and tr1 data structures. What this means is that you can hover over a std::map or std::tr1::unordered_map (or any standard library/tr1 data structure) and it will show you a list of key-value pairs which are in the map or unordered_map very neatly. To the bets of my knowledge no other IDE does this as well (or at all). It's also made a lot better by plugins like Visual Assist X. However, VS and plugins cost a lot of money. Some people also think VS has a somewhat high learning curve, but I personally disagree with that. Any IDE takes a bit of time to get used to; you just have to live with that. I will admit however that it takes a more clicks to get a project up and running in VS than in other IDEs. However, if you're working on a project that's large enough to merit an IDE, it's really negligible.

If you're on Mac, XCode is the best IDE for C/C++ that I've used. It has all the features you'd expect from an IDE, and needs 0 setup. 

If you're on Linux, there are a few alternatives which are Linux specific (KDevelop, etc.) but I find them to be pretty horrible. 

As for cross platform IDEs for C++, Eclipse with CDT is decent. It does everything you expect from an IDE as well. However, on Mac, Eclipse itself sort of sucks, so I don't use it unless I have good reason to (since XCode is free and better, I don't). On Windows eclipse takes a bit of setup – you need to install mingw compilers, etc. On Linux, it just works, and is the best option you have. NetBeans falls pretty much into the same category as eclipse – I just prefer eclipse because I use it for other stuff.

There's aslo the Qt IDE. I haven't used it much, but I found it to be inferior to XCode on Mac as a generic C++ IDE. I've never done any Qt programming, so it might do that really well.

Isuru DaulagalaI have been using Vim religiously for a long time


If you are on Linux, I would highly recommend Vim. Yes, it's not an IDE, but you can install plugins that would help you have pretty much all the functionalities of an IDE.

It might be pretty big learning curve at the beginning, but it pays off big time later on. The bottleneck when you write code is not typing, but time spent on thinking what to do on the editor/IDE. When you master vim, you don't even have to think about pretty much anything.

Vim is also pretty straightforward: 

I would suggest plugins such as:
NERDTree : toggle between files
YouCompleteMe: autocomplete support for C/C++
Syntastic: syntax checking
Git-gutter: git support
clewn:debug support

If there is a functionality you see in another IDE, there is probably a vim plugin for that. You can check all the plugins here:
Vim Awesome

Shammi Mohamed15+ years games dev, engineer in Microsoft, founder of edutainment startup.


I haven’t tried a lot of IDEs, but have had my share of code development on all 3 major platforms (Windows, Linux and Macs) and have tried quite a few of the recommended ones. I’m going to break down feature sets and what you might need to look for

  • Project management, Building code. These features are usually comparable between all platforms and IDEs usually. Each of them have their upsides and downsides, but for the most those features boil down to personal preferences and what one is used to. All IDEs will usually allow you to easily setup projects, add files and build with ease.

  • Editor. This is by far one of the most important features you should look for. All of the IDEs are usually very flexible with regards to keyboard customization. The really good IDEs (VS, Xcode, eclipse, etc) feature auto completion, real time background compiling and error reporting, syntax coloring, smart tabs, etc. These features will come in super handy and clearly save you time while writing code. In the end, it eventually boils down to personal preferences of the user. That said, Visual Studio’s extensibility allows for plugging in editors and I have seen VIM being used within Visual Studio. I believe the pro versions of VS will also allow you to easily switch to emacs bindings, etc.

  • Debugger. This IMO is the most important feature. You are likely to spend a lot more time debugging and maintaining code in comparison to writing code. Having a powerful debugger will save you a LOT of time. From that standpoint, the winner here is Visual Studio hands down. In my experience, VC++ debugger is more user friendly, powerful and reliable than all other alternatives. In particular, it does a better job of interpreting symbols and mapping the data to the code. Here is a list of features that make it stand out..

    • User friendly GUI (watch windows, call stack, threads, modules, memory windows, etc.). In comparison to others VC++ goes the extra mile in making it more user friendly and flexible.

    • Built in support for visualizing STL containers

    • Ability to customize visualizations for your own types. This allows you to quickly look at your structs and see the relevant data without digging in or following a trail of pointers. e.g. a 3D vector can be visualized as [x, y, z]

    • Ability to view any part of memory and customize it’s visualization. e.g. viewing contiguous memory as 8 bit chars or 64 bit doubles

    • Ability to move the instruction pointer within the same function and continue debugging RELIABLY.

    • Ability to set conditional breakpoints or data breakpoints in memory.

    • Ability to set Tracepoints, which gives you print debugging without having to compile it into code.

If you are not constrained by the development platform, I would strongly recommend Visual Studio on Windows. Visual Studio 2015 Community is free and fairly full featured. It is easy to install and get going, and works great for getting started with C/C++ programming. It has the best debugger (IMO) and is highly extensible allowing you to customize as you grow.

Luzan Luzan


If you’re interested in learning to program in C/C++ you’ll find this list of C/C++ Compilers handy. Here I have made a list of some best and free C/C++ compilers and IDEs for Computer Programmers and students.
1)      Eclipse: Eclipse Ide refers to an open source utility that offers some advance functionality for C/C++ programmers. It has some impressive features such as syntax highlighting, debugger and auto code completion. Eclipse ide is supported on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. Eclipse ide makes coding simpler for new programmers. 
2)      NetBeans: NetBeans is another advance open source ide with features such as semantic highlighting, automatic formatting braces matching, unit testing, code assistance and much more.
3)      Code::Blocks: Code::blocks refers to an open source, cross platform and extensible ide for c++.The best feature of this C++ IDE is that as per on your need, it can be extended with the help of available plugins.
4)      Digital Mars: Digital mars is another free c/c++ compiler having command line and GUI versions. Digital mars features a fast compile and link time. To download Digital Mars C/C++ compiler check the link below:
5)      C Free: C free is a superb alternative for traditional turbo c compiler. It’s a small c ide with some brilliant features. C free is not a free ide but it can be used for 30 days for free.
6)      Sky IDE: Sky ide is a multi-compiler, multi-view, multi- project and multi-profile free c++ ide. Sky ide also supports various other languages such as java, php and JavaScript. Sky ide has powerful text manipulation, Syntax coloring, auto complete, line tracker functions.
7)      Dev C++ : Dev C++ makes use of mingw port of Gcc as its compiler. Dev C++ also supports c language and its feature includes Gcc based compiler, auto code completion, syntax highlighting, project manager and print support.
8)      CodeLite: Like Code::Blocks C++ ide, Codelite is also an open source, cross platform ide for C/C++ Programming languages. Codelite can work on different Operating systems such as Windows, Linux and Mac OS.
9)      MinGW: MinGw compilers provide a group of programming tools suitable for native windows applications. MinGw comprises a port of GCC (GNU) such as C,C++,ADA and Fortan Compilers. It’s an open source compiler.
10)  Ultimate++ : U++ is a cross platform RAD ide that focuses on c++ programmers productivity. It features a set of libraries such as GUI and SQl. U++ works with GCC, Visual C++ and MingGW.

Source and for more such IDEs and Compilers : Best C/C++ Compilers and IDEs for Programmers


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