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2019 Visual Studio C++ extensions that will make your life a lot easier

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It’s 2019, and Visual Studio, while being one of the oldest IDEs out there, is still the most popular in the C++ community. A recent JetBrains survey found that it is the most used IDE among C++ developers:

Image source: JetBrains

Simply put, for C++ devs, Visual Studio is the place to be. 

But your work doesn’t end with just making Visual Studio your IDE of choice. Most developers also couple Visual Studio with extensions (available in the VS Extension Marketplace.)

While most articles out there focus on what the recently launched Visual Studio 2019 has to offer (hint: a new user interface that is faster and more responsive along with a wide range of performance improvements), I would like to put the spotlight on the wonderful world of Visual Studio extensions available for the C++ community, and share my top picks with you.

Visual Assist

This extension brought by Whole Tomato provides a suite of features to boost productivity, such as autocomplete, automated refactoring, code generation, debugging and more. It has a reputation for providing unmatched functionality in reducing code complexity as well as generating code quickly. 

Among its features you can find:

  • Navigation
  • Refactoring
  • Coding assistance
  • Code generation
  • Code understanding
  • Code correction
  • Code inspection
  • Debug assistance

Visit Visual Assist in Visual Studio Marketplace

Code Runner

Code Runner enables you to execute code file or code snippet for any language directly within Visual Studio Code with no need for terminal interaction.

Visit Code Runner in Visual Studio Marketplace

ReSharper C++

The old extension for .NET by JetBrains now has a similar version for C++. Like Visual Assist, this extension is also a productivity set of tools (JetBrains also wrote a piece comparing the two) that “provides on-the-fly code analysis, quick-fixes, powerful search and navigation, smart code completion, refactoring, a variety of code generation options and other features to help increase your everyday productivity”.

Resharper helps Visual Studio C++ users to:

  • Analyze and improve code quality 
  • Find usages and navigate code 
  • Refactor and transform code
  • Generate common code
  • Run and manage unit tests
  • Use a consistent code style

Visit ReSharper C++ in Visual Studio Marketplace

CodeMaid

As the name suggests, CodeMaid is all about cleaning up, code-wise. It assists in simplifying code by removing unnecessary whitespaces, organizing code and formatting code in a consistent manner. Additionally, it provides navigation/digging features that allow rearranging the code for better navigation. 

The list of features is impressive and includes:

  • Code cleaning
  • Code digging
  • Code reorganizing
  • Comment formatting
  • Joining
  • Finding
  • Sorting
  • Collapsing
  • Progressing
  • Configuring
  • Switching
  • Toggling

Visit CodeMaid in Visual Studio Marketplace

Code Compare

A tool for file and folder comparison and merging that allows multi-directional merge and provides:

  • Colored blocks for inserted, deleted, and modified text
  • Detailed highlighting of changes within lines
  • Collapsing of unchanged text regions (Pro-feature)
  • Point-and-click merge with a mouse
  • Editing files on the fly
  • Merging shortcuts for advanced users

Visit Code Compare in Visual Studio Marketplace

IncrediBuild

While I’m quite biased, the C++ Visual Studio community should consider IncrediBuild’s solution as a must-have. It addresses the painful issue of slow builds (which are very common for compiling in C++) and speeds up the entire development cycle by up to 30X faster! By distributing time-consuming tasks such as builds, tests, code analysis and more, across machines in the local network or public cloud, IncrediBuild reduces these tasks time by up to 90%. Additionally, the icing on the cake is that IncrediBuild’s solution includes a revolutionary build visualization tool that replaces the text output with a sleek intuitive graphical UI. For a non-biased review, just check out Visual Studio’s article about it.

Visit IncrediBuild in Visual Studio Marketplace

Final words

At the end of the day, the above extensions are meant to make your life easier as C++ devs using Visual Studio. I found that the best way to learn if an extension is right for you is testing it out. If after a while, you can’t imagine life without it, it’s a keeper. 

Renana Dar

Renana, IncrediBuild’s content marketing manager, is a data-oriented marketing professional, with over 12 years of experience in high tech, marketing, and communications. Renana specializes in building content operations from the ground up.