Visual C++.NET Standard 2003 includes the Visual Studio development environment, featuring an array of visual tools and wizards. The supplied libraries include the Microsoft Foundation Classes, for native Windows applications, and the Active Template Library, for high performance COM components. The programming environment is slick, with convenient features like docking and tabbed windows, project wizards, auto-completion and pop-up help in the code editor.
This is the Standard edition, which is primarily intended for learning. Although it has all you need to create both Windows and Web applications, the compiler is non-optimising. Professional developers should consider Visual Studio.NET Professional Edition 2003, which includes a more advanced version of Visual C++ as well as the other .NET languages such as Visual C# and Visual Basic.
Those familiar with earlier versions of Visual C++ will find a number of significant new features. The ability to target the .NET Framework was in Visual C++ 2002, but this 2003 version includes a visual form designer for the first time, enabling rapid development of Windows applications. Another key feature is improved standards compliance, enabling the use of most standard C++ libraries and making it easier to write code that compiles for other platforms such as Unix as well as for Windows. Overall, Visual C++.NET Standard 2003 is an excellent choice both for students learning C++ and for programmers creating high-performance Windows or .NET applications. --Tim Anderson
I managed to convert my existing MFC projects with a minimum of fuss. The development environment is much improved, with many of the floating toolboxes now docked into toolbars. The new tabbed window display is also a joy to use. Even the help is now integrated into the main workspace, and has been much tidied up. And the code browsing is all nicely integrated, if sometimes slow. Errors now appear as a "task list", which also doubles as a todo list. One little shock is that the editor is now folding, which I have not really needed yet.
This is by far the slickest development environment I have ever used. It's also pretty cheap for what you get, though I'll have to revert to my old compiler to generate production code.
I have not needed to play with the .NET features yet, but as a design principle it seems like an excellent idea. Most people will only need a fraction of the technology featured here. The danger with using Visual C++ (and any Microsoft product) is that you'll get locked into Microsoft forever, as will your clients. It's too easy to slate Microsoft, they have piles of money to throw into development, and know the importance of a good user interface.
You can, however, download the 2003 toolkit - FOR FREE - which includes the Microsoft C/C++ Optimizing Compiler and Linker. This is the same compiler and linker that ships with Visual Studio .NET 2003 Professional!
It can be downloaded here:
The new compiler moves toward ISO conformance. So this version of VC++ is actually more standardized than previous versions. This can be helpful when porting applications to other standardized environments and compilers.
I program mostly 3D graphics and have experienced a frame rate increase since downloading the toolkit. This new version is helpful when working on large group projects as well. Oh and the shader debugger is a plus when writing vertex and pixel shaders.
Once it arrived, I decided to do some benchmarking to compare performance of builds between VC6 and vc.net. I made a build of my engine to arbitrarily do 500 box-triangle collisions against level geometry per frame, figuring that would be a good way of averaging things out since it's completely cpu-based (and largely dependant on compiler optimizations). I was a bit shocked by the results. My VC6 build maintained a consant 40+ FPS on my p3 1ghz, while using the exact same code and assets, the vc.net build stayed at around 15-20fps. I fiddled with the project settings for a while, but concluded this speed loss was due the lack of compiler optimizations in vc.net standard. Which means there isn't a darn thing I can do about it. Oh, and no, I didn't do something silly like test a release build against a debug build. I made sure the project settings for each build were as similar as possible.
So, in conclusion, I've got no choice but to keep using vc6, and this was a great waste of 100 dollars. My advice is, if performance matters to you at all, don't buy this product. I was expecting to see some amount of performance loss due to the lack of "compiler optimizations", but this is completely absurd. The loss of performance makes this product completely unusable as a serious development platform. For serious development, you really have no choice but to go for a higher-priced development suite. Otherwise if you just want to fool around and performance isn't an issue, you might as well be using one of the many free compiler/IDE sets out there instead of blowing 100 dollars.
Thankfully, I downloaded the evaluation copy, and didn't purchase the non-refundable software.
The first thing I noticed was that the Visual Studio IDE has been entirely rewritten.
The Visual Studio C++ class wizard is gone. Yes. Gone. You will have to spend time (and a large amount of it) to relearn how to add events, message handlers, and otherwise get up to speed with the VB-ish property window.
Granted, this version does have better ANSI standards compliance, better support for templates, and some optimizations.
If you only need to write native C++ code, pass on this product.
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