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Visual Studio project settings for device adapters

Here are instructions for how to set up a Visual Studio project for a new device adapter. For more details on how to write device adapters for Micro-Manager, see Building Micro-Manager Device Adapters. For instructions on how to build existing device adapters in the Micro-Manager subversion repository, see the page on Building MM on Windows.

Setting up a new device adapter project


See the page on Building MM on Windows for how to set up a development environment for Micro-Manager, including Microsoft Visual Studio 2019. The following assumes that those instructions were followed.

Adding the project

  1. Open micromanager.sln (at the root of the mmCoreAndDevices source tree) in Visual Studio.
  2. In the Solution Explorer (usually at the left of the window), right-click on the Solution (at the top of the list), and choose Add > New Project….
  3. Choose the Dynamic-Link Library (DLL) template. Click Next.
  4. Give your project a Name (this will be your device adapter’s name, so avoid spaces and use alphanumeric characters, dashes, and underscores only). Set the Location to either DeviceAdapters/ or TestDeviceAdapters/ (in theory, it does not matter where you set this). Click Create.
  5. Your new project should show up in the Solution Explorer.
  6. Delete the headers and source files created by the template; they are not useful for device adapters.
  7. By adding a new project, the solution gained settings for the “x86” platform. Micro-Manager is 64-bit only, so we don’t want this. From the platform drowdown in the toolbar, select Configuration Manager…. From the “Active solution platform:” dropdown, select Edit…. Delete the x86 platform from the solution.
  8. Additionally, we want to remove the “x86” settings from the project as well. Still in the Configuration Manager, find your project in the list. From its Platform dropdown, select Edit…. Delete “x86 (which may instead show up as Win32)”.
  9. Notice the tabs at the bottom of the Solution Explorer. Click Property Manager. Find your project in the Property Manager list. Right-click on the project and select Add Existing Property Sheet…. Choose buildscripts/VisualStudio/MMCommon.props. Repeat the same command, this time choosing buildscripts/VisualStudio/MMDeviceAdapter.props. Make sure that the two added property sheets are displayed under each configuration (Debug|x64 and Release|x64), with MMDeviceAdapter at the top (= downstream). These property sheets provide various project settings common to all Micro-Manager device adapters.
  10. Now return to the Solution Explorer by clicking on the leftmost tab at the bottom of the Property Manager.
  11. Lets add our first source files to the project. Right-click the project, and choose Add > New Item…, then C++ Class.
  12. Enter a class name for your first device, e.g. MyCamera. Leave the Base class empty for now.
  13. You can delete the line in MyCamera.cpp that #includes pch.h (which we deleted above). How to actually code device adapters is beyond the scope of this particular page, so lets continue with the project settings.
  14. Expand your project in the Solution Explorer and right click on References; choose Add Reference…. Scroll down and select MMDevice-SharedRuntime (not to be confused with MMDevice-StaticRuntime). Click OK. This reference causes your device adapter to be linked to the common Micro-Manager device adapter library (built from the code in the MMDevice/ directory).
  15. Right-click your project and choose Properties. This shows the project’s Property Pages. In this window, the settings are only applied to the build configuration and platform selected at the top of the Property Pages window. We only have one platform (x64), but we want the settings to apply to both configurations (Debug and Release), so choose All Configurations from the Configuration: popup menu (make sure you do this again if you close and reopen the Property Pages).
  16. Under Configuration Properties > General, set Platform Toolset to Visual Studio 2019 (v142).
  17. Under Configuration Properties > C/C++ > General, set Warning Level to inherit from parent or project defaults (which should display Level4 after clicking Apply).
  18. Under Configuration Properties > C/C++ > Precompiled Headers, set Precompiled Header to inherit from parent or project defaults (which should display Not Using Precompiled Headers after clicking Apply).
  19. That’s it! Write the code for your device class, and right-click your project and select Build. If all goes well, your device adapter DLL should be built as build/Release/Win32/mmgr_dal_Example.dll (or in the directory corresponding to the selected configuration and platform).

Advanced note: If, for some reason, your device adapter needs to be built against the static version of Microsoft’s C Runtime (known as compiler option /MT), rather than the default DLL version (/MD), you need to use MMDevice-StaticRuntime instead of MMDevice-SharedRuntime. This is the case if you are linking against a third-party static library (not a DLL import library, but a real static library) that was built against the static C Runtime. See the Runtime Library property below under C/C++ > Code Generation.

Visual Studio project properties for Micro-Manager device adapters

Here are some notes on how project properties should be set for Micro-Manager device adapters. They are organized analogously to the hierarchy in the Property Pages window.

Note that the following assumes that you have correctly added the MMCommon.props and MMDeviceAdapter.props property sheets (in that order, so that MMCommon is upstream) to your project (see the earlier section on setting up new projects).

Configuration Properties

The options in this section cannot be set in common property sheets and must be set correctly in each project.


Output Directory, Intermediate Directory, Target Name, Target Extension: These are set by the common property sheets. Make sure your project does not override the defaults.

Windows SDK Version: 10.0 (latest installed version).

Platform Toolset: Currently must be Visual Studio 2019 (v142) (even if you are using Visual Studio 2022).

C++ Language Standard: Default (ISO C++ 14 Standard).


Character Set: For new projects, leave default (Use Unicode Character Set). However, do not change this setting for existing projects unless you know what you are doing.

This should not affect most device adapter projects. For those device adapters that use the Windows Win32 API (discouraged unless strictly necessary), it will determine whether the Win32 functions operate on char strings (Use Multi-Byte Character Set = use ASCII and old-fashioned non-Unicode encodings) or wide char strings (Use Unicode Character Set = use UTF-16). If it is necessary to use Win32 API calls, it is encourage that the device adapter use the versions of the functions with a “A” or “W” suffix, so that build settings do not affect code behavior. (See also the official docs.) We do not currently have any explicit support for non-ASCII strings.


Default settings should be fine.

VC++ Directories

Leave these at their default values, as modifying them will just be confusing in most cases. Use the settings under C/C++ and Linker for setting include and library directories.


C/C++ > General

Additional Include Directories: If you need to include third-party header files, add the directory containing them here. Note that the Boost C++ library (not all modules) is made available by default.

Warning Level: We prefer Level4. Choose inherit from parent or project defaults.

C/C++ > Optimization

Default settings should be fine.

C/C++ > Preprocessor

Preprocessor Definitions: The necessary MODULE_EXPORTS macro is provided by the MMDeviceAdapter.props property sheet, so no special settings are necessary for most device adapters.

C/C++ > Code Generation

Enable C++ Exceptions: Yes (/EHsc) (the default) is recommended. Do not turn on SEH Exceptions; see this page for why.

Runtime Library: Use the DLL variants (the default). If you need to link against a third-party static library that uses the static (non-DLL) variant, you will need to choose the non-DLL variants here. Avoid this unless actually necessary. Make sure to use the corresponding variant of MMDevice if making the switch (see above under Framework and References).

C/C++ > Precompiled Headers

Precompiled Header: We avoid using precompiled headers to keep the project organization simple. Select inherit from parent or project defaults (which is Not Using Precompiled Headers), and remove any stdafx.* or pch.h files from your project.


Linker > General

Output File: The default setting should produce the mmgr_dal_ prefix if the common property sheets are included correctly.

Additional Library Directories: If linking to a third-party library, you will need to add the directory containing the .lib files here.

Link Library Dependencies: Must be set to Yes (= inherit from parent or project defaults) for the reference to MMDevice to work correctly.

Linker > Input

Additional Dependencies: If linking to a third-party library, add the filenames (*.lib) here.

Linker > Debugging

Generate Debug Info: Best to set to Yes (/DEBUG) even for release builds.

Build Events

No settings required. Use is discouraged.