Compiling Vim with Visual C++ 2003 Toolkit

I've been trying to make Vim 7 compile with the Microsoft Visual C++ 2003 Toolkit, as a favor to Bram Moolenaar, the primary author of Vim. He wants to be able to use the free compiler as the primary build tool for the Win32 version of Vim.

Oh. My. God.

The VC2003 toolkit may include a full optimizing compiler, but it's certainly far from a complete system for building Windows binaries.

First, I discovered that it came only with the C library headers, but not the Windows headers. That was easily rectified. Download the Platform SDK. Just the Windows Core SDK subset. This also got me nmake.

At this point, I was able to compile Vim, but not to link it. The linker required cvtres.exe, to link some resources. Some googling showed me that this is included in the .NET Runtime.

The main Vim executable now linked, but the shell extension DLL didn't. I didn't have msvcrt.lib! It took me more detective work to learn that I'd have to install the .NET Framework SDK to get msvcrt.lib. There are several clever hacks out there that generate msvcrt.lib from msvcrt.dll, with the help of link -dump -exports and a sed script, but these do not include the all-important _DllMainCRTStartup@12, the real entrypoint for DLLs linked with msvcrt.

All the necessary steps for getting the downloads are summarized on the Code::Blocks wiki. Code::Blocks is an open-source IDE that can host the VC2003 toolkit, GCC, and a number of other compilers.

So why bother with the VC2003 toolkit, since Visual C++ 2005 Express Edition is freely downloadable?

The main reason is that it's free only for the first year, and Bram wants something that will still be available after November 2006, so that anyone can compile it.

I have also ported Vim 7 to compile with VC2005 Express. It was fairly straightforward, after I had added the following

 #if _MSC_VER >= 1400

to shut up the warnings about deprecated CRT functions. I also had to make it link with libcmt.lib (multithreaded) instead of libc.lib, as the single-threaded static library is gone.

I still need to make sure that everything continues to work with the retail compilers, VC6, VC7.1, and VC8, before passing my changes back to Bram. Sigh.

Update #1: I almost forgot. VC2005 Express also requires the Platform SDK to build Vim.

I'll send the diffs to Bram in about a week. I'm too busy to clean everything up this week.

Update #2 (2006/03/12): I sent updates to Bram a week ago and he's checked them into the Vim7 source tree. Be sure to read src/INSTALLpc.txt, section 1, for details on compiling Vim with VC5-VC8.

Update #3 (2006/04/22): VC2005 Express is now free forever. Vim7 is in beta and will be released soon, and Bram doesn't want to switch compilers at this point.

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