What we write as source code is a high-level language which is a combination of zero’s and one’s. After writing a C++ program or any software program, we need some translator or interpreter to compile the program and then run the executable generated by the compiler.
Like C++ IDEs, there are a lot of C++ Compiler out there. Some of them are independent of operation systems, which is running under a freestanding environment. Some others are specific for an operation system, which is known as compiler for hosted environment.
Today, we will discuss the C++ compilation process along with some of the top-notch C++ compilers that are available in the market.
A C++ program consists of a header file (.h) and a source file (.cpp). Apart from this, external libraries or files are linked to C++ program using the <include> directive.
The process to compile a C++ program has 3 steps below:
- Preprocessing: Here the include files referenced by the source CPP file are used and the code is replaced in the source files. We do not use header file in this step. Macros or inline functions will be preprocessed in the same way. Their code is replaced at a place where they are called.
- Compile: The preprocessed file is then compiled to generate an object file with an extension “.o”.
- Linking: The libraries and external functions used by the program are linked to the object file in the linking process. In the end, the program will be executed successfully.
Those three steps of compilation are done with a click of a button in the case of IDEs.
Now we move to some of the top compilers for C++.
MinGW stands for “Minimalist GNU for Windows”. It’s an open-source and free tool with no third party requirement and work well for native Windows applications. It has GCC compilers to include C, C++, Fortran language compilers.
This compiler has high level of portability available in GCC by ANSI Compliance, making it a favorite by most of the users. It’s also fast and simple.
Its features consist of native TLS callback, wide-character startup (-Unicode), i386(32-Bit) and x64(64-bit) windows, multilib toolchains, Binutils or bleeding edge GCC supporting.
Borland C++ is the oldest and cheap compiler developed for Windows and MS-DOS. It’s also a C++ IDE and is widely used in the 90s. Borland C++ is a successor of Turbo C++ and comes with a better debugger. You can use their simple editing features to make code easier and simple.
It has some features like: consists of Object Windows Library or OWL which is a library consisting of C++ classes to develop professional windows graphics application; contains “Turbo Vision” which is a set of C++ classes to develop DOS applications. Borland C++ also comes with the Borland Graphics interface that is used to develop applications with 2G graphics.
Clang is a C/C++/Objective-C compiler which is designed based on LLVM. It’s preferred for the fast compiles delivery and better analysis of the code. Clang is used to build great source level tools, has useful error and warning messages. It can also find bugs in your code automatically thanks to the Clang Static Analyzer tool.
The version 12.0 of Clang fully supports C++17 and has experimental support for C++20.
It has many great features, like fast compilation, GCC Compatibility, low memory use, expressive diagnostics, refactoring, static analysis, code generation. Clang also has tight integration with IDEs like visual studio.
From its name Intel C++ compiler, or ICC, we can see that it’s developed by Intel corporation. It’s used for computationally intensive apps and comes with a commercial license.
This compiler focus on Threading Building Blocks and Data Parallel C++ (DPC++) support, as well as data parallelism (with parallel STL), Field-programmable gate array (FPGA) and Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) support.
Its advantages are faster and effective processing, identical performance and no scalar instructions, flexible and easy to switch between compilers.
Visual C++ is the compiler which Microsoft bundles with Visual Studio for C and C++. This current version will support C++17 core language and library features. The new version of Visual Studio 2022, which is still a preview now, will have a Visual C++ compiler that support C++20 features fully.
Visual C++ features are prominent. It has the fastest executables, it supports developing apps based on Windows and Linux. It reduces users burden on writing code using OLE development. All of those features help Visual C++ become a favorite for professional C++ developers.
Continue with the series of C++ articles, we hope that it gives you an overview of top C++ compilers and you can select the best one for yourself.
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Source: incredibuild.com, educba.com, softwaretestinghelp.com