Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Integrating Visual Studio Compiler Tools With Visual Studio Code

Integrating Visual Studio compiler tools with Visual Studio Code is a really powerful solution for developing and debugging C/C++ code.

Assuming you have installed Visual Studio Code and Visual Studio compiler tools then before continuing I highly recommend installing the C/C++ for Visual Studio Code extension.

Here are the steps I have for the integration process:

Enable a "VS 2019 Community Prompt Here" integration with Explorer. I've based my solution on Daniel Cazzulino's excellent CommandPromptHere solution that is available here:

This supports x86 compiler configuration by default so I've modified it slightly to enable x64 compilation and called the file "VS201964BitComCmdHere.inf"


; "CMD Prompt Here" PowerToy


; Copyright 1996 Microsoft Corporation




CopyFiles = VS2019ComCmdHere.Files.Inf

AddReg    = VS2019ComCmdHere.Reg


DelFiles  = VS2019ComCmdHere.Files.Inf

DelReg    = VS2019ComCmdHereUninstall.Reg






VS2019ComCmdHere.Files.Inf = 17





HKLM,%UDHERE%,UninstallString,,"rundll32.exe syssetup.dll,SetupInfObjectInstallAction DefaultUnInstall 132 %17%\VS2019ComCmdHere.inf"


HKCR,Directory\Background\Shell\VS2019ComCmdHere\command,,,"cmd.exe /k call ""C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio\2019\Community\VC\Auxiliary\Build\vcvars64.bat"" && pushd ""%V"""


HKCR,Directory\Shell\VS2019ComCmdHere\command,,,"cmd.exe /k call ""C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio\2019\Community\VC\Auxiliary\Build\vcvars64.bat"" && pushd ""%V"""


HKCR,Drive\Shell\VS2019ComCmdHere\command,,,"cmd.exe /k call ""C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio\2019\Community\VC\Auxiliary\Build\vcvars64.bat"" && pushd ""%1"""







VS2019ComCmdHereName="Developer Command Prompt Here for VS2019 Community"

VS2019ComCmdHereAccel="VS 2019 Community Prompt"


To use VS Code with Visual Studio, in the project folder you need to create a .vscode/launch.json file:


    // Use IntelliSense to learn about possible attributes.

    // Hover to view descriptions of existing attributes.

    // For more information, visit:

    "version": "0.2.0",

    "configurations": [


            "name": "cl.exe - Build and debug active file",

            "type": "cppvsdbg",

            "request": "launch",

            "program": "${fileDirname}\\${fileBasenameNoExtension}.exe",

            "args": [],

            "stopAtEntry": false,

            "cwd": "${workspaceFolder}",

            "environment": [],

            "console": "externalTerminal",

            //"console": "internalConsole",

            "preLaunchTask": "C/C++: cl.exe build active file"




and a .vscode/tasks.json file:


"version": "2.0.0",

"tasks": [


            "type": "cppbuild",

            "label": "C/C++: cl.exe build active file",

            "command": "cl.exe",

            "args": [





                "-D" "_CRT_SECURE_NO_WARNINGS=1",






            "options": {

                "cwd": "${workspaceFolder}"


            "problemMatcher": [



            "group": {

                "kind": "build",

                "isDefault": true


            "detail": "compiler: cl.exe"




Now open VSCode and open the project folder: File | Open Folder ...

Save the workspace: File | Save Workspace As ...

Close VSCode

Now to use VSCode with Visual Studio, right click on the project folder in Explorer and choose: "VS2019 Community Prompt"

Type the following:

code workspace.code-workspace

You can now compile and debug your application, with full break point and single stepping support.

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