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Walkthrough: Working with Projects and Solutions (C++)

Here's how to create a C++ project in Visual Studio, add code, and then build and run the project. The project in this walkthrough is a program that tracks how many players are playing different card games.

In Visual Studio, work is organized in projects and solutions. A solution can contain more than one project—for example, a DLL and an executable that references that DLL. For more information, see Solution and Project Basics.

  • To complete this walkthrough, you must understand the fundamentals of the C++ language.

To create a project, first choose a project-type template. For each project type, Visual Studio sets compiler settings and—depending on the type—generates starter code that you can modify later.

To create a project

  1. On the menu bar, choose File, New, Project.

  2. In the left pane of the New Project dialog box, expand the Installed Templates node, expand the Visual C++ node, and then select Win32.

  3. In the list of installed templates in the center pane, select Win32 Console Application.

  4. Enter a name for the project in the Name box. For this example, enter Game.

    You can accept the default location in the Location drop-down list, enter a different location, or choose the Browse button to browse to a directory where you want to save the project.

    When you create a project, Visual Studio puts the project in a solution. By default, the solution has the same name as the project. You can change the name in the Solution name box, but for this example, keep the default name.

    Choose the OK button to start the Win32 Application Wizard.

  5. On the Overview page of the Win32 Application Wizard, choose the Next button.

  6. On the Application Settings page, under Application type, select Console Application. Under Additional options, clear the Precompiled header setting, and then select the Empty Project setting. Choose the Finish button to create the project.

    You now have a project, but it does not yet have source code files.

You can use Solution Explorer to organize and manage the projects, files, and other resources in your solution.

This part of the walkthrough shows how add a class to the project. When you add the class, Visual Studio adds the corresponding .h and .cpp files. Next, you add a new source code file for the main program that tests the class.

To add a class to a project

  1. If Solution Explorer is not displayed, on the menu bar, choose View, Solution Explorer.

  2. In Solution Explorer, open the shortcut menu for the Header Files folder and then choose Add, Class.

    In the left pane of the Add Class dialog box, expand the Visual C++ node and select C++, and then in the list of installed templates in the center pane, select C++ Class. Choose the Add button.

  3. In the Generic C++ Class Wizard, enter Cardgame in the Class name box. Don't modify the default file names and settings. Choose the Finish button.

  4. The Cardgame.h file is opened in the editor. Make these changes:

    • Add two private data members after the opening brace of the class definition.

      int players;
      static int totalParticipants;
      
    • Modify the default constructor that Visual Studio generated. After the public: access specifier, find the line that looks like this:

      Cardgame(void);

      Modify it to take one parameter of type int, named players.

      Cardgame(int players);
      
    • After the default destructor, add an inline declaration for a static int member function named GetParticipants that takes no parameters and returns the totalParticipants value.

      static int GetParticipants() { return totalParticipants; }
      
  5. The Cardgame.h file should resemble this after you change it:

    #pragma once
    class Cardgame
    {
        int players;
        static int totalParticipants;
    public:
        Cardgame(int players);
        ~Cardgame(void);
        static int GetParticipants() { return totalParticipants; }
    };
    

    The line #pragma once tells the compiler to include the file only one time. For more information, see once.

    For information about other C++ keywords in this header file, see class, int, static, and public.

  6. Choose the Cardgame.cpp tab in the editing pane to open it for editing.

  7. Delete everything in the file and replace it with this code:

    #include "Cardgame.h"
    #include <iostream>
    
    using namespace std;
    
    int Cardgame::totalParticipants = 0;
    
    Cardgame::Cardgame(int players)
        : players(players)
    {
        totalParticipants += players;
        cout << players << " players have started a new game.  There are now "
             << totalParticipants << " players in total." << endl;
    }
    
    Cardgame::~Cardgame()
    {
    }
    
    Note Note

    You can use auto-completion when you are entering code. For example, if you were entering this code, you could enter pl or tot and then press Ctrl+Spacebar so that auto-completion finishes entering players or totalParticipants for you.

    For information about #include, see #include Directive (C/C++).

Now, add a source code file for the main program that tests the class.

To add a new source file

  1. In Solution Explorer, open the shortcut menu for the Source Files folder and then choose Add, New Item.

    In the Add New Item dialog box, in the left pane, expand the Installed node, expand the Visual C++ node, and then select Code. In the center pane, select C++ File (.cpp).

  2. Enter TestGames.cpp in the Name box, and then choose the Add button.

  3. In the TestGames.cpp editing window, enter the following code.

    // TestGames.cpp
    #include "Cardgame.h"
    #include <iostream>
    
    using namespace std;
    
    void PlayGames()
    {
        Cardgame bridge(4);
        Cardgame blackjack(8);
        Cardgame solitaire(1);
        Cardgame poker(5);
    }
    
    int main()
    {
        PlayGames();
    
        return 0;
    }
    

Now, build the project and run the application.

To build and run the project

  1. On the menu bar, choose Build, Build Solution.

    Note Note

    If you are using an Express edition that does not display a Build menu, on the menu bar, choose Tools, Settings, Expert Settings to enable it.

    Output from a build is displayed in the Output window. If your build is successful, the output should resemble this:

    1>------ Build started: Project: Game, Configuration: Debug Win32 ------
    1>  TestGames.cpp
    1>  Cardgame.cpp
    1>  Generating Code...
    1>  Game.vcxproj -> c:\users\username\documents\visual studio\Projects\Game\Debug\Game.exe
    ========== Build: 1 succeeded, 0 failed, 0 up-to-date, 0 skipped ==========

    The Output window can show different steps, depending on the edition and the build configuration, but if the project build succeeds, the last line should resemble the output shown.

    If your build did not succeed, compare your code to the code that is given in the earlier steps.

  2. To run the project, on the menu bar, choose Debug, Start Without Debugging. The output should resemble this:

    4 players have started a new game.  There are now 4 players in total.
    8 players have started a new game.  There are now 12 players in total.
    1 players have started a new game.  There are now 13 players in total.
    5 players have started a new game.  There are now 18 players in total.
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