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C/C++ Building Reference

Visual C++ provides two ways of building a C/C++ program. The easiest (and most common) way is to build within the Visual C++ development environment. The other way is to build from a command prompt using command-line tools. In either case, you can create your source files using the Visual C++ source editor or a third-party editor of your choice.

If your program uses a makefile rather than a .vcxproj file, you can still build it in the development environment as an external project.

Compiling a C/C++ Program

Describes the compiler, which creates an object file containing machine code, linker directives, sections, external references, and function/data names.


Describes the linker, which combines code from the object files created by the compiler and from statically linked libraries, resolves the name references, and creates an executable file.

Release Builds

Presents information on why and when you would want to change from a debug build to a release build and also discusses some of the problems you may encounter when changing from a debug to a release build.

Optimizing Your Code

Provides links to topics discussing the mechanisms for optimizing code:

C/C++ Build Tools

Provides the following command-line tools for viewing or manipulating build output:

C/C++ Build Errors

Introduces the build errors section in the table of contents.

C/C++ Preprocessor Reference

Discusses the preprocessor, which prepares source files for the compiler by translating macros, operators, and directives.

Understanding Custom Build Steps and Build Events

Discusses customizing the build process.

Building a C/C++ Program

Provides links to topics describing building your program from the command line or from the integrated development environment of Visual Studio.

Setting Compiler Options

Describes setting compiler options in the development environment or on the command line.

Compiler Options

Provides links to topics discussing using compiler options.

Setting Linker Options

Describes setting linker options inside or outside the integrated development environment.

Linker Options

Provides links to topics discussing using linker options.

BSCMAKE Reference

Describes the Microsoft Browse Information Maintenance Utility (BSCMAKE.EXE), which builds a browse information file (.bsc) from .sbr files created during compilation.

LIB Reference

Describes the Microsoft Library Manager (LIB.exe), which creates and manages a library of Common Object File Format (COFF) object files.

EDITBIN Reference

Describes the Microsoft COFF Binary File Editor (EDITBIN.EXE), which modifies Common Object File Format (COFF) binary files.

DUMPBIN Reference

Describes the Microsoft COFF Binary File Dumper (DUMPBIN.EXE), which displays information about Common Object File Format (COFF) binary files.

NMAKE Reference

Describes the Microsoft Program Maintenance Utility (NMAKE.EXE), which is a tool that builds projects based on commands contained in a description file.

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