Visual C++ quirks

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March 12th, 2010

Visual C++ may be the standard IDE for PC game development, but it has its fair share of idiosyncratic problems that have bothered me for years, and forced me to find makeshift workarounds. Here are the ones that I run into most often.

'Intellisense' not so intelligent

VC++ has a feature called 'intellisense' which is used for autocompletion and jumping to definitions and declarations. Unfortunately, it doesn't work very well. It often stalls for minutes, or simply fails to find definitions that are obviously present. When this happens, I delete the '.ncb' file in the project folder in order to force VC++ to regenerate the intellisense files, which usually makes it work ok for another week or so.

Ignoring keyboard input

Sometimes, without warning, VC++ stops responding to keyboard input. I can usually temporarily fix this by tapping 'alt'. However, once it happens, it usually keeps happening every couple minutes until I quit the IDE and open it again.

"No files were found to look in"

A very useful feature in VC++ (and most IDEs) is the ability to search in multiple source files at the same time. However, on rare occasions, VC++ will start to report "No files were found to look in" when I try to search multiple files. Quitting and reopening the IDE has no effect on this problem. To fix this, I just press ctrl + 'scroll lock'. Seriously, this works. Apparently this has been a common problem for years[1], but has never been fixed.

Shifting buttons and windows

When using VC++, you have to make sure you click with bullseye accuracy -- if you click and drag incorrectly, you might accidentally move windows and toolbar buttons to strange places, and never find them again. As far as I can tell there is no way to turn off this 'feature' and make windows and buttons stay put, and there is no way to save a custom layout so you can revert to it. However, you can choose "Window/Revert Window Layout" from the menu to revert to the default VC++ window layout, so I've learned to live with the default layout so that I can revert it when it gets messed up. I couldn't find any way to revert the toolbar layout though, so I just put up with it randomly shifting around from time to time.

Have any of you run into these problems before, or other VC++ UI issues? Do you have better solutions to them? Please let me know in the comments!