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IDEs and Text Editors

In section Getting Started with the Cafu Source Code we have introduced you to working with the Cafu source code, but daily work is a lot more convenient if a text editor or IDE can automate the most frequent tasks.

Besides normal text editor functionality, what we most importantly need is:

  • Starting the build (SCons) with a single press of a key or button.
  • A click on a compiler error message must open the relevant source file at the reported position.
  • Searching in all project files.

In this section we briefly present several text editors and IDEs that achieve these goals (and more).


UltraEdit is a commercial, very powerful text editor. It is available for Windows, and in slightly different editions also for Linux and MacOS. Personally, I do most of my development with UltraEdit, especially under Windows.

UltraEdit has excellent implementations for all of the above requirements: Setting up a “tool” (running the command scons in the proper working directory, e.g. D:\Cafu) is very easy, clicking in the output window to open files on error messages is trivial, and the implementation of find and replace is awesome.

See the video below for a short example session with UltraEdit that demonstrates the basic features outlined above.


Geany is a lightweight, open-source text editor that, at least regarding the above features, is similar to UltraEdit. Geany is available for Windows, Linux, MacOs, and more.

I've only recently started to use it under Linux (using Geany 1.22), and my first impression is very good. Find and replace is not as convenient as in UltraEdit, but tool setup and many other basic features are quite the same.

The video at the bottom of this section was made for UltraEdit, but because Geany is very much alike, you can use it for an overview as well.

Visual Studio

If you are a Visual Studio veteran and wonder why we don't simply provide you with Visual Studio project and solution files, please see Where are the Visual Studio project files? for our reasoning behind the Cafu build process.

In short, we don't have Visual Studio specific project files available at this time, but until then, we can fortunately integrate SCons into Visual Studio in a very similar manner than it is used with other IDEs: Please refer to the related SCons documentation at for details.

Eclipse, Xcode, ...

Unfortunately, I have little experience with these and other IDEs, but generally, they are expected to work very much like the alternatives mentioned above.

In fact, the SCons documentation at explains how to integrate SCons with Exclipse and Xcode, but please understand that we've not yet tried this ourselves (and therefore can provide little if any help about them).


This video shows a minimal example session in UltraEdit, demonstrating the core set of features that we use when working with the Cafu source code.

The editor Geany is very similar, and we suspect that other IDEs work similarly as well.

Additional notes:

  • Set the playback quality to “720p HD” if possible.
  • There is no audio track in this video.
  • All mouse actions shown in the video can also be done via the keyboard, such as Ctrl+Shift+0 to start SCons, Alt+S, I to open the “Find in Files” dialog, ESC to close the output pane, etc. Using these keys does not produce a comprehensible video, but normally, we use our editors like this. :-)
cppdev/ides.txt · Last modified: 2013-01-07 12:07 (external edit)