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Best IDEs for C++ (for Beginners & Competitive Programming)

  • Mar 23, 2023
  • 6 Minute Read
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  • By Abrar Ahmed
Best IDEs for C++ (for Beginners & Competitive Programming)

C++ is a programming language that's extensively used thanks to its expansive set of libraries. It's used for a wide variety of tasks, including developing software or in-game development. But as a beginner, we need an IDE to build our programs and write our code. In this article, we will find out about the best IDE for C++ and why.

What is an IDE?

IDE stands for Integrated Development Environment. It is a software package that provides a comprehensive environment for writing and debugging programs. IDEs generally also have tools or packages that help with perfecting the functionalities of the programming language. 

Simply, it is a user-friendly application where we can do coding. Each of the programming languages, including C, C++, Java, R, and Pearl requires an IDE. A programmer has to choose an IDE to use, and their choice may depend on several factors similar as their skill position, whether they're willing to pay or not, and the type of Operating System they're using.

Free C++ IDEs for Beginners

If you are a beginner or on a tight budget, you might be looking for a cheaper and user-friendly option. Here are the best free C++ IDEs available and their features:

  1. VSCode: From a beginner’s point of view, It is one of the best IDEs to use. Visual Studio Code is a free, open-source, and easy-to-use IDE for C++ and has several extensions that can be downloaded to help with the programming. It is also used as an environment for many other languages as well. 
  2. Code::Blocks: For programming in C, C++, and Fortran, utilize the Code::Blocks environment. It offers a simple UI and is free and it is open source. Tools are available for things like syntax checking, debugging, and completion. This IDE was designed to be completely flexible and was developed on a plugin system.
  3. Eclipse: It is a well-known open-source integrated development environment (IDE) that was primarily created in Java but can also be used with C++ and HTML. 

Also, you can look for these amazing C++ projects for beginners to practice your skills after your basics are done.

Best IDEs for Professional C++ Programmers

Professional C++ programmers have completely different needs for an IDE compared to beginner-level learners. They will have a higher skill level and need better time management, which requires an IDE that is powerful, scalable, and efficient. Here are the best IDEs for professional C++ programmers:

  1. Visual Studio: No, not VS Code. This is a powerful, IDE that is widely used by professional C++ programmers. It is free for private and commercial use but is also highly scalable and easy to use. It includes features like code completion, syntax highlighting, a debugger, and Git integration.
  2. CLion: This is a paid IDE (although, it is free for students) and it is specifically designed for C and C++ Language coding and development. It includes features like code generation, quick documentation, and safe refactoring.
  3. Qt Creator: This is a free, open-source IDE that is specifically designed for C++ development using the Qt framework. It includes features like code highlighting, debugging, and Git integration.

Best IDE for C++ Competitive Programming

Competitive programming refers to a sport or a competition where programmers solve problems, usually algorithmic problems, within a time limit in a programming language of their choice. People who compete in these need IDEs that are customizable, lightweight, fast, and can preferably accommodate several programming languages at once. 

  1. Sublime Text: Sublime Text can be downloaded and used for free, but a license must be purchased for continuous use. It is lightweight, user-friendly, has a customizable interface, powerful features, and a wide range of language support. Sublime merge is a cross-platform Git client that can be used alongside Sublime Text.
  2. Visual Studio Code: VSCode, as mentioned before is highly customizable, free, easy to use, and has extensions that include syntax and bracket matching, Git integration, and so on.
  3. Code::Blocks: Code::Blocks is a free, open-source IDE that supports multiple compilers. It is developed in C++ using plugins and is designed to be fully customizable and extensible.

Best C++ IDEs for Mac and Windows

Another important context to choose IDEs is the Operating System of the user. There are certain IDEs that only work in Windows or MacOS. 

  • Xcode (Mac): Xcode is a free, integrated development environment for Mac that supports multiple programming languages, including C++. It includes features like code highlighting, debugging, and Git integration.
  • Dev C++ (Windows): As the name suggests, this is a C++ IDE that allows for both C and C++ language programming. It also supports GCC-based compilers including Cygwin, MinGW, etc., and has a localization feature that provides support for multiple languages.


Choosing the right IDE is essential for any C++ programmer. It will depend on your needs and preferences, including your budget, platform, and programming experience. Now you have the list of the best IDEs for C++ programming,  whether you're a beginner or a professional.

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About The Author
Abrar Ahmed
An ambivert individual with a thirst for knowledge and passion to achieve. Striving to connect Artificial Intelligence in all aspects of life. I am also an avid coder and partake in coding challenges all the time on Leetcode and CodeChef.