Walkthrough: Compiling a C++/CLI Program on the Command Line


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You can create Visual C++ programs that target the Common Language Runtime (CLR) and use the .NET Framework, and build them on the command line. Visual C++ supports the C++/CLI programming language, which has additional types and operators to target the .NET programming model. For an introduction to the C++/CLI language, see Pure C++: Hello, C++/CLI. For general information, see .NET Programming with C++/CLI (Visual C++).

In this walkthrough, you use a text editor to create a basic C++/CLI program, and then compile it on the command line. (You can use your own C++/CLI program instead of typing the one that's shown, or you can use a C++/CLI code sample from another help article. This technique is useful for building and testing small modules that contain no UI elements.)


You can also use the Visual Studio IDE to compile C++/CLI programs. For more information, see Walkthrough: Compiling a C++ Program that Targets the CLR in Visual Studio.


You must understand the fundamentals of the C++ language.

Compiling a C++/CLI Program

The following steps show how to compile a C++/CLI console application that uses .NET Framework classes.

To enable compilation for C++/CLI, you must use the /clr compiler option. The Visual C++ compiler generates an .exe file that contains MSIL code—or mixed MSIL and native code—and links to the required .NET Framework libraries.

To compile a C++/CLI application on the command line

  1. Open a Developer Command Prompt window. (On the Start window, open Apps. Open the Visual Studio Tools folder under your version of Visual Studio, and then choose the Developer Command Prompt shortcut.) For more information about how to open a Command Prompt window, see Setting the Path and Environment Variables for Command-Line Builds.

    Administrator credentials may be required to successfully compile the code, depending on the computer's operating system and configuration. To run the Command Prompt window as an administrator, open the shortcut menu for Developer Command Prompt and then choose Run as administrator.

  2. At the command prompt, enter notepad basicclr.cpp.

    Choose Yes when you are prompted to create a file.

  3. In Notepad, enter these lines:

    int main()  
        System::Console::WriteLine("This is a C++/CLI program.");  
  4. On the menu bar, choose File, Save.

    You have created a Visual C++ source file that uses a .NET Framework class (Console) in the System namespace.

  5. At the command prompt, enter cl /clr basicclr.cpp. The cl.exe compiler compiles the source code into an .obj file that contains MSIL, and then runs the linker to generate an executable program named basicclr.exe.

  6. To run the basicclr.exe program, at the command prompt, enter basicclr.

    The program displays this text and exits:

    This is a C++/CLI program.  

See Also

Visual C++ Guided Tour
C++ Language Reference
Building C/C++ Programs
Compiler Options