Projects in Visual C++ 2010 – Part 2: Project Dependencies

This article is the second part of the subprojects mini series. The first part was about creating a DLL project. This part will show how to use a DLL library project in another project.

Referencing a library in C++ (or, more specific, with Visual C++) is somewhat cumbersome – or should I say, used to be somewhat cumbersome. Fortunately, with the release of Visual C++ 2010 this has been greatly simplified. This article first shows the old way and then describes the new (simple) way.

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Projects in Visual C++ 2010 – Part 3: Precompiled Headers

In this part of the “Projects in Visual C++ 2010” mini series another important aspect of C++ programming is explain: precompiled headers. Precompiled headers (or precompiled header files) in many cases significantly reduce the time needed to compile a project.

Here at work I have a C++ project with about 50 .cpp files in it. The project uses the Qt library and all files only include the absolute minimum of header files required. Without precompiled headers, compiling the project takes about 56 seconds. With precompiled headers, the compile time goes down to about 7 seconds. That’s eight times faster.

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Sharing project properties in Visual C++

Everyone who has ever created and managed a C++ project in Visual Studio knows that there are hundreds of compiler switches and options to choose from. While setting the desired values for one project may be ok, it’s quite time-consuming and error-prone to do this for multiple projects. I’m currently working with a solution containing about 30 or so projects that share most of their project settings. I always wished there was a way to sync or share these common settings among the projects in the solution. Fortunately, there is: property sheets. They’re a bit hidden though, so I’ll explain how to use them in this article.

Note: This only applies to C++ and C++/CLI projects. .NET projects (C# and Visual Basic) don’t have that many options to be tweaked and (therefore?) can’t have shared settings.

Note 2: This article describes property sheets as they appear in Visual Studio 2010. They may work slightly different in other versions of Visual Studio.

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IDisposable, Finalizer, and SuppressFinalize in C# and C++/CLI

The .NET framework features an interface called IDisposable. It basically exists to allow freeing unmanaged resources (think: C++ pointers). In most cases, you won’t need IDisposable when writing C# code. There are some exceptions though, and it becomes more important when writing C++/CLI code.

The help page for IDisposable provides the code for IDisposable‘s default implementation pattern in C#. This article will explain each part of it step by step and also provide the equivalent C++/CLI code in each step.

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C++ references and inheritance

The last few days I’ve been hunting a bug in a C++ project I’ve been working on. This hunt again showed me how easily you can break C++ programs by accident (something that isn’t possibly in Java or C#). You need to completely understand the inner workings of C++ to avoid such pitfalls.

The whole problem was a result of me thinking that C++ references (&) are just pointers (*) that have some restrictions (e.g. they can’t be NULL). Wrong! What’s even worse: They’re sometimes just pointers with some restriction. This makes them work in some cases but fail in others.

Let me take you on my journey and you’ll hopefully avoid this (very subtle) mistake in your work.

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