Alternatives to VS Express?


I’m basically a hobby programmer and unfortunately can’t afford a full Version of Visual Studio. Hoever, VS Express is a real pain to work it, since it so sooooooo slow and unconfortable to work with. I wonder if there are any alternatives that are free or at least affordable to it?

Haven’t used VS Express, but I can tell you from using the full version, that it’s also slow and a pain to work with.

To answer your question; no, there are no alternatives to VS for UE4 and there likely won’t ever be.

What are you computer’s specs?

Visual Studio is the industry leading IDE. If it’s slow, it’s probably because of your computer. It’s quit slow on my computer too, but on high end computers at my university it’s extremely quick.

I would definitely also recommend going with VS for UE. The integration is great and Epic has solved a lot of hassles for you already.

A thought: VS offers a lot of “comfort” functions that can be taxing on performance. I’d rather recommend doing a bit of performance tweaking before going for an unsupported approach. Most game studios do use VS, so an added benefit of using it is you can get help from the community (and Epic).


I didn’t see any difference in performance between Express and Professional. One of the main benefits of Professional is that you can install plugins that help you coding in one way or an other. Like Visual Assist for refactoring and syntax coloring. If you’re enrolled as a student you probably can get the Professional version via DreamSpark.

Currently, JetBrains is working on a new C++ IDE. It still in development, but knowing their previous work on their Java or Objc IDEs, I think it’s safe to say that it will be good. It will probably be able to open visual studio projects as well. I’m not sure what else would be needed to be able to work with UE.

Like what? The non-existent refactoring functions or the painfully slow and barely working syntax highlighting?

Like addons, or the painfully slow and barely working syntax highlighting (I do agree on that) or the autocompletion stuff thats also only half-baked.

Or try this tutorial (using Notepad++ as an alternative): if VS is a no-go…

I have a I73770k with 16GB of Ram. Might be a harddrive problem, but everytime i create new files it takes a while till the code highlighting works. Also, if i want to lookup a class that is used somewhere it takes some time for the IDE to find the original source file. For Example when you have an AActor and want to look up what a certain method does.

I am not a student, I work a fulltime job, but the amount of money but there is no way i can afford VS Professional or something like this. I felt like, when i used the Trial of VS Ultiamte, it went much smoother. Dunno why. There is also the VA Plugin, which again only works in professional. I would love to use some other IDE like maybe CodeBlocks or Eclipse or somewhat along these lines. As a big Fan of PHPStorm, i would also love a Jetbrains ide for C++ :). However, its probably not easy to get those running. sigh

Gamedev seems to be a very costly endevour, if you want to use all the cool stuff :frowning:

I don’t think this is a problem with your computer, but rather an issue with VS. I have the same problems and my PC is not bad. It just seems that some areas of VS are not optimized very well or break easily. I can search the entire engine source in Xcode pretty much instantly and that includes full text search or just searching for specific methods or classes.

I too hope that JetBrain’s IDE will be good. Can’t wait for the first beta versions to try.

Like others have said, the full version doesn’t seem to improve for much. Not tried the Notepadd++ approach, but can at least confirm that it might be worth a shot since spending money on full VS isn’t going to change a whole lot. Background: I was on VS '12 early this year, put express '13 on one of my machines when first trying UE4 and recently upgraded to VS '13 pro.

I’ve been using VS for some years now for business application development. Been pleased with the system up until recently, something about the '13 version just doesn’t seem right, but have honestly not put time into finding out why. Few issues as well with UE4 as others have seen. True, most of my issues are probably either due to something I did or a lack of patience in finding some setting to toggle, but…well, troubleshooting my environment right now is boring me to tears. Anyway, if the UE team did decide to officially support another system, well that’d be great.

How does UE actually depend on VS? Does the editor’s build tool rely on some of the features of VS? Couldn’t you just import the project into an other IDE and use that instead?

Seems like others have found ways of not using VS, which is awesome, but best I can tell UE4 (on the PC version at least) does seem tied to VS. Even from the file menu we’ve got things like “Open Visual Studio” and “Refresh Visual Studio”, so that’s all I refer to when it comes to UE and VS dependencies or support. It seems to reference VS specifically. Pretty sure VS was listed as a requirement as well when I first installed, but maybe it just needs to be installed on the system for compiler use and we can just ignore it otherwise?

Sure, we can find other ways no doubt. My main goal was to at least comfort the OP by saying that pining over a full VS suite won’t solve any issue. But my last statement is probably unnecessary. More I think about it, probably just feel bad for the UE team since I would wager that VS issues from new customers probably take up support time…especially with new VS users, which is really none of my concern anyway.

It also references Xcode on OS X. Open Visual Studio seems to just be a shortcut. And doesn’t Refresh Visual Studio do the same, that you can do in Windows Explorer, by right-clicking on the project and selecting “Generate Visual Studio solution”?

Had the pleasure of working in Xcode about a year ago. Don’t get me wrong, I find both PC and Mac to be boring in their own way, but I gotta admit, Xcode made me think that an IDE really could be sexy in both body and mind. I digress.

I dunno, can we redo that shortcut? Put something else there with intellisense like Mono, Qt or whatever? Change the mapping in UE to point to those programs, like if I click on a header link while looking at a blueprint, it opens up in something other than VS? Ya, I could totally just do it manually, but I’m pretty **** lazy at times.

Once JetBrains IDE is released, I’ll probably investigate what it would take to properly integrate a different IDE. They already have support for two different IDEs, it shouldn’t be too difficult to add a third one, right? :confused:

Have you tried creating a new project with VS Express to try out it’s speed compared to running an UE4 project?

Maybe this has been discussed, or verified already in the past, but Josh from Epic just mentioned on IRC, that UBT doesn’t use VS for anything. You could totally use any IDE you wanted to. The only drawback you would have, is that the Editor opens the source files in VS, instead of your IDE.

Nice, well that seems like hopeful news. Tried a couple editors without any luck on opening the .sln, but opens the individual files just fine. Bit of an issue with intellisense. Going to give the Notepadd++ solution a go now, because, well maybe MS heard my ********. I get to my home office computer tonight and intellisense simply stopped working here on any UE4 functions. Then it started doing this odd restarting itself business after closing. I dunno, maybe it was the update I applied. I’ve gone and angered the VS gods :frowning: Sorry.

Anyhoo, if you find success in the future with another system or with JetBrains, do let us know. Thanks!

It’s not that Visual Studio per se is slow, just intellisense for a huge C++ code base such as UE4. Disable intellisense and get Visual Assist (which of course you can’t install on Express) and all is fine.

This exactly. Just to reiterate what everyone’s been saying (with links):

If you have VS (not VS Express, because it isn’t compatible) then go grab Visual Assist X and see if that speeds things up radically. There’s a 30 day trial you can make the best of.
Once you’ve installed it, go disable IntelliSense.

From my experience with PHP Storm (also JetBrains), it should be a fantastic product. Chances are as soon as it’s available I’ll be cramming the source into it and seeing what’s what.

More info here. I might even give AppCode a try in the meantime.