# Microsoft Visual Studio 2017 - My Experience
Visual Studio 2017 came out recently. The list of news looks like it has been written by some marketing rather than technial guys. It starts with "Unparalleled productivity for any dev, any app, and any platform. Use Visual Studio 2017 to develop apps for Android, iOS, Windows, Linux, web, and cloud. Code fast, debug and diagnose with ease, test often, and release with confidence. You can also extend and customize Visual Studio by building your own extensions. Use version control, be agile, and collaborate efficiently with this new release!" - I've never seen so many buzzwords in just one paragraph.
Rest of the page is not different. They even call their installer "a new setup experience". They've also introduced "Lightweight Solution load", which is disabled by default - like everyone is assumed to prefer slower option :) Some other changes: "Visual Studio starts faster, is more responsive, and uses less memory than before." - that's unexpected direction. "Performance improvement: basic_string::operator== now checks the string's size before comparing the strings' contents." - wow, that's genius! They should file a patent for that ;) I hope they do the same for std::vector and other STL containers.
OK, but jokes aside, I've installed it on my personal PC, it installed quite fast and it works good. It preserved my settings, like the list of Include and Library Directories. Upgrade of my home projects went smoothly, without any problems.
There are many changes valuable for native code developers. What's New for Visual C++ in Visual Studio 2017 page mentions over 250 bug fixes, other compiler improvements and improved support for C++11, 14, and 17. I've already heard stories of programs running much faster after recompilation with this new compiler.
Contrary to what I thought before, Microsoft didn't abandon Graphics Diagnostics embedded into MSVS after they released new standalone PIX. They've actually added some new features to it.
So I definitely recommend upgrading to Visual Studio 2017. It is IMHO the best C++ IDE, and the new version is just next step in the right direction.
It seems that there is no new version of "Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributable Package" this time. Programs compiled with VS 2017 use VCRUNTIME140.DLL, just like in 2015 version.
# How to change display mode using WinAPI?
If you write a graphics application or a game, you may want to make it fullscreen and set specific screen resolution. In DirectX there are functions for that, but if you use OpenGL or Vulkan, you need another way to accomplish that. I've researched the topic recently and I've found that Windows API supports enumerating display devices and modes with functions:
EnumDisplaySettings, as well as changing mode with function
ChangeDisplaySettingsEx. It's a programatic access to more or less the same set of features that you can access manually by going to "Display settings" system window.
I've prepared an example C program demonstrating how to use these functions:
First you may want to enumerate available Adapters. To do this, call function
EnumDisplayDevices multiple times. Pass
NULL as first parameter (
LPCWSTR lpDevice). As the second parameter pass subsequent
DWORD Adapter index, starting from 0. Enumeration should continue as long as the function returns
BOOL nonzero. When it returns zero, it means there are no more Adapters and that Adapter with given index and any higher index could not be retrieved.
For each successfully retrieved Adapter,
DISPLAY_DEVICE structure is filled by the function. It contains following members:
WCHAR DeviceName- string with name of the Adapter, like "\\.\DISPLAY1".
WCHAR DeviceString- string with more user-friendly name of the Adapter, like "AMD Radeon (TM) RX 480".
DWORD StateFlags- various flags, like
DISPLAY_DEVICE_ACTIVEif the device is on, or
DISPLAY_DEVICE_PRIMARY_DEVICEif this is the primary device.
There is a second level: Adapters contain Display Devices. To enumerate them, use the same function
EnumDisplayDevices, but this time pass Adapter
DeviceName as first parameter. This way you will enumerate Display Devices inside that Adapter, described by the same structure
DISPLAY_DEVICE. For example, my system returns
DeviceName = "\\.\DISPLAY1\Monitor0",
DeviceString = "Generic PnP Monitor".
The meaning and the difference between "Adapter" and "Display Device" is not fully clear to me. You may think that Adapter is a single GPU (graphics card), but it turns out not to be the case. I have a single graphics card and yet my system reports 6 Adapters, each having 0 or 1 Display Device. That can mean Adapter is more like a single monitor output (e.g. HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA) on the graphics card. This seems true unless you have two monitors running in "Duplicate" mode - then two Display Devices are reported inside one Adapter.
Then there is a list of supported Display Settings (or Modes). You can enumerate them in similar fashion using
EnumDisplaySettings function, which fills
DEVMODE structure. It seems that Modes belong to an Adapter, not a Display Device, so as first parameter to this function you must to pass
DISPLAY_DEVICE::DeviceName returned by
EnumDisplayDevices(NULL, ...), not
EnumDisplaySettings(adapter.DeviceName, ...). The structure is quite complex, but the function fills only following members:
DWORD dmPelsWidth, dmPelsHeight- resolution, in pixels.
DWORD dmBitsPerPel- bits per pixel (all Modes have 32 in my case).
DWORD dmDisplayFrequency- refresh rate, in Hz.
DWORD dmDisplayFlags- additional flags, like
DM_INTERLACEDfor interlaced mode.
I have a single graphics card (AMD Radeon RX 480) with two Full HD (1920 x 1080) monitors connected. You can see example output of the program from my system here: ExampleOutput.txt.
To change display mode, use function
LPCTSTR lpszDeviceName), pass
DeviceNameof the chosen Adapter (again, not Display Device!).
DEVMODE *lpDevMode), pass structure filled with desired Display Settings. You can fill it by yourself, but Microsoft recommends to pass the copy of the structure as it was retrieved from function
DWORD dwFlags), you can pass various flags, e.g. whether new settings should be saved in the registry.
The function returns
DISP_CHANGE_SUCCESSFUL if display mode was successfully changed and one of other
DISP_CHANGE_* constants if it failed.
To restore original display mode, call the function like this:
ChangeDisplaySettingsEx(targetDeviceName, NULL, NULL, 0, NULL);
Unfortunately, display mode changed in the way described here is not automatically restored after user switches to some other application (e.g. using Alt+Tab), like in DirectX fullscreen mode, but you can handle it yourself. Good news is that if you pass
CDS_FULLSCREEN flag to
ChangeDisplaySettingsEx, the previous mode is automatically restored by the system when your application exits or crashes.
# First Time on GDC
I came back from my first GDC. I've been dreaming about going there since my university years. My first impression? It's huge! It runs for so many days (Monday to Friday). There are so many talks, more than a dozen at same time, that you really need to choose carefully what is most interesting to you (and stand in a queue before the room, because if you come too late and the talk is very popular, there may be no free seats left).
As the world's largest event of this kind in the industry, it attracts best professionals and offers quality talks. This time there were sponsored talks from Amazon (about their engine Lumberyard), Facebook, Khronos, Google, NVIDIA, Unity, Intel, Microsoft, Oculus, AMD, Epic, ARM, Sony and others - basically every big company that deals with graphics, plus many other talks presented by individual developers. I was interested mostly in graphics programming, but of course there were many other topics covered, like artistic or business aspect of game development.
Expo was also big, with over 100 companies presenting their products, services and technologies. Big difference from Polish Pozna˝ Game Arena is that GDC is targeted to professionals only, which means there aren't such big crowds of people standing in long queues to be able to play any game. I've never played so much VR as on this expo :)
There were other attractions too, like indie game developers presenting their productions or retro zone with working computers from previous decades. So many things to do there! In addition to that, I've met many friends there, who either live in US or came from Poland just like me.
Entrance fee is high, with pass for main conference starting at $1000 up to $2400 (on-site for all access), aside from plane ticket to San Franscisco and hotel there, so it's hard to go there on your own, unless your company pays for it. But if only you have the opportunity, I think GDC is definitely worth visiting.
By the way, gamedev conferences planned for this year in Poland are:
I hope to visit them all :)
Gallery of my photos (mostly from San Francisco):