C++ @ School
If anyone has ever been to a college/university for programming language, do they give you a free compiler, because I was thining about buying visual studio 6 so I could work with the 3 languages im learn, (they all the start with C, one is C), and if the colleges give compilers away for free, then why bother buying one, I should just wait until I got to college etc..
Usually if you attend a college or university, you are given a student discount on Visual Studio. Dev-C++ is the usual recommendation around here. I don't personally like it but that's just me.
We actually have an agreement with my University and Microsoft that we can get legitimate free copies of software to use while a student
Such things as Visual Studio .NET, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and other MS products.
All it requires is that we are enrolled in a third or fourth year computer science course.
Drexel University has Visual Studio available for download by way of their FTP server. You should check with your college before spending your own money on it.
Dev C++ is a very nice, free alternative to Visual Studio. If you're looking to learn even more, you could download Cygwin and use vi/emacs to do your editing and compile with g++.
Whether you ultimately end up programming in a Windows or *nix environment, it's in your best interests to have experience developing using command-line tools. I'm currently doing embedded programming using a proprietary compiler that only runs on Windows through the command line, but it has no IDE. If it weren't for the CS class I took this year on programming techniques in Unix, I'd be lost when it comes to invoking programs through the command line or writing batch files.
It did, however, take me a moment or two to figure out why ls wasn't working ...
I wouldn't buy the full Visual Studio package right now. I assume that you already have a compiler to learn with 'till you start college. It's very expensive if you can't get the acedemic discount ($800 ?) If you have that much extra money... spend it on a ship-load of programing books!!!
When you take a class, especially a begining class, the instructor will standardize on a particular set of tools. You don't want to spend lots of money on the "wrong" compiler, or the wrong version. If you think your school uses Visual Studio, you could get Visual C++ only ($100) or download the free beta version of Visual C++. You will be ahead of the game in the beginning when some other students are struggling to get the compiler installed, configured, and trying to get "hello world" compiled!
If your school doesn't offer it free, once you are an enrolled college student, you can get Visual Studio at a deep discount... I think you can get it for $100. The acedemic version may have some limitations. The programs compiled on it may not run on another computer that doesn't have Visual Studio installed.
Last time I heard the Standard edition will be selling for $300. Not a bad price especially since it will be including all the compilers unlike the previous standard editions.
A chart of features is available from http://lab.msdn.microsoft.com/vs2005...e/default.aspx
You can get the command line tools from Microsoft for free.
As for editors, I'm personally very fond of jEdit.
These things will vary depending on the school. My school heavily promotes linux. We use gcc and plain old editors for pretty much everything.
The university I attend uses both Windows and Linux, but gcc for both (using Dev-C++ for windows). I have been messing with VC++ Express 2005 beta, and from what I hear, the express line is going to be pretty cheap on release, which I think will help out the college, and independent developer crowed. Although I am a fan of gcc, Microsoft still makes one heck of an IDE.