2007-02-02

Eclipse C++ Programming with MinGW

MinGW brings the powerful (free) GNU C++ compiler to the Windows world. The only drawback is that you get only command line tools, no GUI interface. While this is OK only for small programs, it becomes an issue when you need a debugger and / or the project contains more than one source file.

That's where Eclipse kicks in. With the CDT plug-in you can edit, compile and debug your C++ programs.

These are the required downloads (compiler, debugger and editor):
  • MinGW and GDB installers from here (I've downloaded MinGW-5.1.3.exe from MinGW->Current section) and from here for the latter (I've downloaded gdb-6.3-2.exe from Snapshot section)
  • EasyEclipse for C and C++ from here (I've downloaded release 1.2.1.1).

After creating a C++ project in Eclipse you will notice that there is warning complaining that cygpath is not found, it's a benign warning since we're not using Cygwin to build programs.

Eclipse expects that g++, make and gdb executables to be in PATH, since I don't like to pollute the global PATH environment variable with MinGW executables I've created a "launcher" for Eclipse that adds MinGW to PATH before running Eclipse.

Here is the code (eclipse.js):
var program = "eclipse.exe";

// Add the arguments
for (var i = 0; i < WScript.Arguments.length; ++i)
{
    program += " " + WScript.Arguments.Item(i);
}

var shell = new ActiveXObject("WScript.Shell");

// Add mingw to path
var env = shell.Environment("PROCESS");
var path = "c:\\mingw\\bin;";
path += env("PATH");
env("PATH") = path;

// Execute the program and don't wait for completion
shell.Exec(program);


Copy the "launcher" to Eclipse directory (c:\Program Files\EasyEclipse for C and C++ 1.2.1.1) and use it from now on to start Eclipse.

We need one more step to get everything to work, change the C/C++ build command from make to mingw32-make (or rename mingw32-make it to make in c:\mingw\bin, if you want the eclipse project to be crossplatform) like in the picture bellow:


That was all. Now we have a full C++ IDE. Now we can develop console applications or Win32 C GUI applications. For C++ GUI applications we can use the free (GPL) Trolltech Qt library.
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