How to Install C++ 17 on Windows

In this tutorial, we are going to learn how to install and enable support for C++ 17 on Window.

How to Install C++ 17 on Windows

C++ 17, formerly known as ISO/IEC 14882:2017S is one of the modern versions of the C++ language standard. Although it is not the latest one at the time of writing this tutorial, that would be C++ 23 which replaced C++ 20, it comes with new features, improvements and simplifications to the language.

Some of the features and improvements introduced by C++ 17 include:

  • Structured Bindings - This allows us to easily decompose complex data structures into components which helps in creating readable code.
  • If-Init Statements - This feature allows us to declare and initialize variables within an if statement.
  • Constexpr if = this is a more powerful version of if constexprwhich allows compile-time conditions for metaprogramming.
  • Fold Expressions - Fold expressions simplifies variadic template programming.
  • Parallel Algorithms - Standardized parallelism in the Standard Library with functions like std::for_each, std::transform, and std::reduce for better performance on multi-core processors.
  • Filesystem Library - C++ 17 Introduces a standard library for file system operations, making file handling more robust and cross-platform.
  • Improved auto Type Deduction - Enhancements in the auto keyword's type deduction capabilities.

The above are some of the notable features and improvements provided by C++ 17.

Install and Enable C++17 on Windows

To work with C++ on Windows, we need to install a compiler that supports C++ 17 standard. The most versatile and common compiler for Windows is the Visual C++ toolset.

You can follow the steps as outlined below:

Step 1 - Download and install Visual Studio.

The first step is to download and install the Visual Studio Compiler. Open your browser and head over to the link below:

Download Visual Studio Tools - Install Free for Windows, Mac, Linux
Download Visual Studio IDE or VS Code for free. Try out Visual Studio Professional or Enterprise editions on Windows, Mac.

From the list of download options, select "Community Version".

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Once the download is complete, launch the installer and proceed with the installation.

During installation, select the "Desktop development with C++" workload, which includes the necessary components for C++ development.

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This should start downloading and install the C++ components on your machine.

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Step 2 - Create a New C++ Project:

Once Visual Studio is installed, you can create a new C++ project:

Launch Visual Studio.

Next, Go to "File" > "New" > "Project..."

In the next step, choose a template for the project (e.g., "Console App") and select "Next."

Finally, configure the project settings, making sure to choose the appropriate "Platform Toolset" that supports C++17.

Step 3 - Configure Project Properties

To enable C++17 features for an existing project project:

Right-click on the project in the Solution Explorer.

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Select the Properties option and head over the "Configuration Properties" section.

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Locate the "C/C++" > "Language" section and set the "C++ Language Standard" option to "ISO C++17 Standard (/std:c++17)."

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Enable C++ 17 on Visual Studio Code (MinGW)

If you are building your C++ on Visual Studio Code and using a compiler that supports C++ 17 such as MInGW, you can create a Visual Studio code as shown:

How to install MinGW on Windows
In this guide, you will learn how to install and setup MinGW environment on your Windows machine.

Create a tasks.json file in the project folder to define build tasks.

We can do this by going to "View" > "Command Palette" > "Tasks: Configure Task" and selecting "g++ build active file."

In the tasks.json file, make sure the "args" option includes the -std=c++17 flag to enable C++17. An example file is as shown:

{
  "version": "2.0.0",
  "tasks": [
    {
      "type": "shell",
      "label": "g++ build active file",
      "command": "g++",
      "args": ["-std=c++17", "-g", "${file}", "-o", "${fileDirname}/${fileBasenameNoExtension}.exe"],
      "group": {
        "kind": "build",
        "isDefault": true
      }
    }
  ]
}

Save the file and build your project. You can do this by pressing the command CTRL + SHIFT + B. This will build and run the code using the specified instructions.

Conclusion

In this tutorial, we learned how to install and configure the C++ compiler on Windows to enable support for C++ 17 on your projects. We covered both Visual Studio and MinGW compilers.

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