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How to find code samples and example programs at Microsoft.

Microsoft provides a great search tool at Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) for finding almost everything a programmer needs to know, except the actual code for their sample programs. And believe me, you need the sample programs! You'll never figure out the wacky things you have to do from the documentation alone.

Sample program code is generally published on DVDs to MSDN subscribers. But in fact, anyone can download the contents of these DVDs. The problem is, the downloads are huge and you don't know which one to get. For example, there are 17 different downloads listed for "DirectX". But, there's no way to know exactly what's in any one. I wondered which one included "DirectSound" or "GraphEdit" or "Push Source Filters"?

Getting the latest download doesn't work, because Microsoft keeps removing things to make room for new stuff. I tried that.

It's frustrating 'cuz you can read all about the programs at MSDN - but how do you get the actual code?

Finally, I found a way! When Microsoft releases a new DVD, they publish on MSDN something like "What's new in this release...". That's what to search for:


So, search MSDN for the "What's New" document listing the code you want, and the name of the download you need is listed at the top.

Unfortunately, to get a particular file requires installing the entire SDK. And it may be an old SDK - who want's to install 4 year old SDKs? That's where virtual machines are nice! I just open an expendable virtual machine and install it there.

BTW, using a binary search tool to check if the name of the file is in the self-extracting EXE file doesn't work. It doesn't show up even when it is really there. That's why, you have to install the whole stinkin' thing just to see if the bit you want is there.

Lastly, installing SDKs adds an item to your start menu called "Sample Browser". But, don't don't be fooled - it doesn't list all the samples! Instead, use the Windows Explorer search function to find the samples you need.

Now, wasn't that easy?

Dave Eisler




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