Okay, so you've joined the team and have downloaded all the files from the server. Great! Now what?
Well, the first thing you probably want to do is make it so that you can run the program. The files from the server do not include an exectuable file (this is on purpose), so you will need to make one. Don't worry, it's pretty easy.
First, you need a compiler. Fortunately, there is a free one out there, and not only that, it's the free version of the industry standard compiler that practically everyone uses. This is called MSVC Express, and it's a full featured compiler (it doesn't have all the features that the paid version has (naturally), but it has plenty to do what we need here).
You can get this compiler here:
Go ahead and download and install it. I'm going to presume for the sake of these instructions that you are using MSVC Express. If you are using something else, the following steps may be somewhat different (contact me if you need help, I know most of the major C++ compilers fairly well and can probably help you).
This stuff you only have to do once. After you get the project and the compiler all set up, it's much easier, but there is a little bit of work to do to get the intial settings all right (not much, don't worry).
First, let's create the project. Open up MSVC Express. At the top, open the file menu, select New, and then "Project from existing code".
In the top box, browse to where your downloaded files are (you don't need to select any file, just give it a location). This should end up something like "D:\DDOPlanner" (or wherever it is you put your files from the server).
In the second box, you need a project name. Anything will do, such as "DDOCharGen". The rest of the screen you can leave as is.
At this point you can just hit the "Finish" button. There are more screens, but you don't need to change anything on them (we'll be using all default values for the rest of them). You can look through them if you want, but don't change anything. When you are done, hit Finish to set up the project.
Good, you now have a C++ project all set up. You should see on the left that you have a Solution with one project, and a list of all the cpp and h files associated. Also you should see the three subdirectories (DataFiles, Graphics, and SaveFiles).
If you like, you can double click on any of the cpp or h files that are listed to see what's in them. You can even, if you want, open up the "DataFiles" directory and pull in a txt file and edit it from right inside MSVC.
Now we need to make one adjustment to the project settings before we can compile.
MSVC has (by default) two build configurations, Release and Debug builds. I won't go into the technicalities, but you do need to know that MSVC is going to try to be helpful and put these two different configurations into subfolders for you, which means the executable file would live in D:\DDOPlanner\Debug rather than D:\DDOPlanner (for instance). This is a problem for us, because if you tried to run the executable from there, it would not be able to find the graphics or datafiles for the project, and you'd get a crash.
Fortunately, we can fix this easily. On the top menu, open up "Project" and at the bottom will be either "Project Properties" or "DDOCharGen Properties" or something of the sort (it depends on if you've already tried to compile or not and if you did, what you initially named your project. In any event, it's the last item on the Project menu). Open this up.
On the left of the box that appears, select "Configuration Properties". On the right, at the very top, you should see something that says "Output Directory". This is what we are going to change. First though, let's make sure we set all of the configurations at once. Look to the top of the box on the left to where there is a button that says "Configuration: Active (Debug)". Pull that down and switch it to "All Configurations". Now we are ready to make our change.
Click on where it says "Output Directory" and you will see a down arrow appear to the right. Click on that and select "Browse". You will get a directory browser box. It should be pointing right where you need it (which is the root directory of the project). Just hit "Select Folder" at the bottom, and you should get something like "..\DDOCharGen" in your Output Directory box (or wherever it is your folder lives). Hit Okay to get out of the Project Configurations box and back to the main screen.
That's it, we''re all set. Now go to the "Build" menu and select "Build Solution" (or alternately, just hit the F7 key), and you will get a compile. This will take a few seconds. Presuming there are no errors, you are ready to run the program. From inside MSVC you can simply hit F5 to run the program. Or, if you are not inside MSVC, you can simply run the executable from the base directory like you would normally do.
One more change I'm going to recommend if you are not a coder. MSVC will, by default, start off in a Debug configuration. This is good for coders who may need to debug code, but not so good for users who just want to run the program (the program will run significantly slower in Debug mode). So if you don't plan on coding, I suggest you change your mode over to Release. This is quite simple.
Just pop open the "Build" menu, and go to "Configuration Manager". You should see your project listed. Pull down the Configuration box and select "Release". Hit Close, then rebuild the project (F7), and you are all set. The executable is now in Release mode and will run at full speed.
Okay, so you are starting another glorious day of working on the planner. You do an Update via Tortoise, and you notice that someone changed a cpp file (or an h file)! Whoa! This means your executable is now out of date, and you need to rebuild it.
No worries, this is cake. Pop open MSVC. On the Start page, look for the box that says "Recent Projects" and click on the DDOCharGen project (or whatever you called it). Then just hit F7 to build and a brand new exectable will be created.
You can then close down MSVC and run the new executable from the directory where it lives, or if you prefer, leave open MSVC and just hit F5 to run the program from there.
I hope those directions are clear enough. If anyone has any trouble, let me know and I'll clarify anything that needs more detail.