Dev-C++ is an integrated development environment (IDE) for the C++ programming language. It presents a feature-rich environment, tools for writing and debugging, as well as a compiler to provide you with all the tools necessary to program software in C++. The program is a fork of the Bloodshed Dev-C++ environment, designed for advanced programmers looking to create applications from scratch using the low-level language.
An all-in-one bundle
Bloodshed Software is a group of developers providing development environments for various programming languages, the most notable of which are versions of C, Delphi, and Pascal. Their aim is to provide free, well-developed software for the Internet community.
However, the group saw little activity since 2005, so another developer took up the project in 2011. The latest program version came out in 2015, so it’s pretty dated by programming standards.
DEV-C++ for Windows contains all standard features necessary for creating, fixing, and executing programs written in C program languages. As C++ is an object-oriented expansion of C, it also supports earlier versions of the language.
It allows an aspiring programmer to compose all source code within the IDE without simple features standard for more beginner-friendly programs. For instance, code completion in Visual Studio Code is enabled by default. This is not the case for Dev-C++.
You are able to create Windows-based and DOS-based programs using stable compiler systems, two versions of which are included in the package. DEV-C++ supports GCC-based compilers, popular for its stability and the variety of languages they support.
The compiler systems used in this IDE make it quite flexible. It utilizes the MinGW (Minimalist Graphics User Interface) for Windows, which uses GCC, as well as Cygwin, as an alternative option. Thus, it will work with all versions of Windows and most Linux builds.
DEV-C++ includes all standard features of similar environments, including syntax highlighting, advanced code completion (which must be enabled manually) and insight, profiling, debugging, style formatting of your code, and editable shortcuts. It also features Devpak extensions for IDE and the option of adding external tools.
External tools are a great way to improve the look, feel, and responsiveness of your IDE or customize it to taste.
Easy project creation
With this IDE, you’ll be able to develop a project and integrate as many source files as you need. The interface is simple and old-school, and it comes in over 25 available languages, which facilitates starting a new project with almost anyone in the world. The options are all shown straightforwardly.
While you write, the tool will highlight keywords and other C elements. It uses a classic color scheme, with comments in green and compiler errors in red. The compile log is quite precise, helping you debug with ease.
After you download and install the IDE, you need to configure it. The current version requires a modification of one default setting so you can use the debugger. Everything else works on default. This seems oddly inconvenient for a basic, necessary function like the debugger.
Creating new projects requires entering the program and visiting the 'File' menu to create a new file. Check the 'C++ project' box, or another if you wish to work with another version of the language. Name your project and start writing.
There are two main ways to add source files to your new project in DEV-C++, both following simple sets of commands. You may create source files within the program or add existing ones. Once you enter the source code, it's time to compile.
The Compiler tab will show you all syntax errors. Fix the mistakes and execute your program. At this point, you may also add any desired parameters.
Finally, DEV-C++ contains a fundamental debugger with various straightforward features. You'll find the basic ones in the tab at the bottom of your screen - visit the Debug menu for more advanced functions.
Bugs and alternatives
All the main drawbacks of this IDE boil down to the fact it saw changes in developers and update pauses ever since 2005. For that reason, the tools included - notably the compiler and debugger - are slightly obsolete.
Plus, the latest versions were released before the newest version of C++ of 2017, so it's lagging. It is possible to compile C++ programs with it, but you'll see some issues and incompleteness.
Moreover, it lacks many features familiar with more modern IDEs. So, new programmers might find them confusing or rudimentary, or even not suitable for new-age C++ programming.
If you work in a programming team, DEV-C++ is not the best option. While it provides you with all you need for personal projects, there are no version control features.
Finally, the interface, although functional, isn't the most aesthetically pleasing. The error messages are difficult to read, and your display gets cluttered.
If you're seeking alternatives to this IDE, you might make use of Visual Studio Code with streamlined UI, assistance, navigation, and an integrated debugger. This program is also great for collaborative projects. It’s supported by Microsoft and comes with constant updates, a good marketplace for plug-ins, and project selection.
Another prominent option is Eclipse, another full-fledged IPE packed with modern features.
A decent albeit old IDE
All in all, DEV-C++ is an excellent IDE to use if you have programming knowledge and don't need many highly advanced tools. It will provide all you require within a single interface. However, it looks and works in a slightly dated way, which could be a drawback for some. DEV-C++ 5.11 sees little to no changes nowadays, which makes it lag behind the ever-changing technology you could find in more modern IDEs like Visual Studio.