Should you use an updated version of Dev-C++?

Most people are now aware that you shouldn’t use Dev-C++, but what about a more recently updated version?  wxDev-C++ and Orwell Dev-C++ have both been updated from the dated official version, and both are currently maintained… so is it ok to use them?

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons given in my other article, and see how Orwell and wxDev-C++ stack up.  I’ll quickly summarise each point and then take a look at how each of the newer options stand:

1.  Dev-C++ has not been updated since 2005, and is not currently maintained.

  • The software is very buggy (340 known bugs).
  • It’s hard to get help thanks to the majority of the programming community moving on.

wxDev-C++ has been updated a numerous times and is still under active development.  In addition to the very important step of updating the bundled compiler and debugger (which immediately fixes a whole host of problems with the original) there have been numerous bug fixes as well as new feature additions.  wxDev-C++ can be considered reasonably bug-free and up-to-date.  The official website also offers some tutorials, and in the links section you’ll find both a discussion forum and mailing list where help and support can be found.  Although this means there is a reasonable level of support, wxDev-C++ is not as well-known or popular as other non-Dev-C++-based options, and so familiarity and support elsewhere online may be lacking.

Orwell Dev-C++ is much less mature than wxDev-C++, with it’s earliest updates being made in 2011.  Like wxDev-C++, the bundled compiler and debugger have been updated.  There have also been a number of additional bug-fixes (but no significant feature additions), and the software is now reportedly reasonably stable.  This package (perhaps due to it’s lack of maturity) is even less well-known than wxDev-C++, and although it is beginning to gather a small community of users there isn’t much offered in the way of fresh documentation or community-support.  It’s fairly likely that this package will simply be unknown to any given programmer you ask for help, so support is definitely lacking.

Overall, you can consider both packages to be reasonably stable and bug-free, but will find a reduced level of support for usage of wxDev-C++ and support almost non-existent for Orwell.

2.  Dev-C++ lacks features compared to more modern solutions.

wxDev-C++ has had a number of feature additions, as well as updates and fixes to partially implemented or broken features from the original release.  You’ll find significantly improved debugging support, some new code-navigation features, and a graphical form-designer for wxWidgets.

Orwell offers support for a 64bit compiler, and has added some basic editor functionality such as indent guides and code-folding.

On this point we have a very clear winner in wxDev-C++ for 32bit development (particularly if wxWidgets is of interest), but Orwell has the 64bit support that wxDev-C++ lacks.

3.  Error messages and the steps required to solve them are poorly documented.

This is at least partially the fault of the compiler and debugger, which (as mentioned above) have been updated in both packages.

wxDev-C++ offers a significant amount of  documentation as well as a discussion forum and mailing list for support.

Orwell does not offer any additional documentation other than a few notes on the blog used as the official homepage.

Again, we have a very clear winner in wxDev-C++, although it’s worth noting that either option loses out to many other non-Dev-C++-based offerings.

4.  The compiler is out-dated and buggy.

As has been covered above, the compiler and debugger have been updated in both offerings, and on this point they can be considered close-to equivalent.  The included compiler is no longer out-dated, and can be considered reasonably bug-free.  Thanks to it’s latest update being more recent, Orwell offers a slightly newer compiler version.

5.  The provided “dev-pack” system is no longer supported.

wxDev-C++ offers updated dev-packs for modern versions of a number of libraries.

As far as I’m aware, Orwell hasn’t done any work in this area, although users may be able to benefit from the packages provided by the wxDev-C++ project.  Note that this is a maybe; I’m not sure, and I’m not currently inclined to find out.

I don’t know of any libraries that still maintain dev-packs themselves, but thanks to the offerings provided by the wxDev-C++ project they are available for at least one (and possibly both) of the two options.  Again, we can probably consider this a point in favour of wxDev-C++.

So, are they ok?

Both projects appear to be reasonably up-to-date, offer at least some support, and can be considered reasonably stable.  wxDev-C++ offers a number of added features, whilst Orwell Dev-C++ offers a few minor additions along with 64bit compiler support.   If I were forced to choose between the two, my personal preference would be to use wxDev-C++ because of it’s maturity and an increased level of support and documentation, but either option should be acceptable for usage.

Personally I still prefer — and would recommend — choosing a more popular (and therefore better supported) alternative, some of which offer more features again than the updated versions of Dev-C++, but it’s pretty obvious when objectively examining the problems that Orwell and wxDev-C++ aren’t deserving of the scorn the original package now rightfully attracts; just be sure when looking for help to tell people you’re using Orwell or wxDev-C++ rather than the original Dev-C++, or you’ll likely be bombarded with advice to change to another option, and quite possibly a link to my original article.

Please be mindful when choosing your tools that recommendations to use or avoid a particular option — including this article — can sometimes fall out-of-date, and you should do your best to objectively consider the quality and usability of an option for yourself.