How to set up a Visual Studio project for Udacity projects using uWebSockets.

I'm taking Udacity's self driving car nanodegree. There are several projects in Term2 and Term3 that use the uWebSockets library:

Visual Studio has cmake support, but I found working with the MS stack easier. It will take a couple minutes to set up a Visual Studio project, but it's worth it.

  • Visual Studio 2017 or Visual Studio 2015 Update 3
Install uWebSockets with vcpkg

Vcpkg is a tool to install C and C++ libraries. Visual Studio will find the installed libraries automatically, and uWebSockets is available through vcpkg.

Installing vcpkg is easy, the instructions from the vcpkg github project:

  1. Clone the vcpkg github repo (in C:\src, but you can use whatever folder you want)
    C:\src> git clone
  2. Open a command prompt as administrator to hook up the integration (only need to do this once)
    C:\src\vcpkg> .\vcpkg integrate install
  3. Install uWebSockets (I chose the x64 version only)
    C:\src\vcpkg> .\vcpkg install uwebsockets:x64-windows
Create VS project

Create an empty Visual C++ project in Visual Studio (File → New → Project...). I left Create new Git repository unchecked because the Udacity projects have their own git repos on github.

new empty project

Close Visual Studio to make sure the project is saved.

Fork the Udacity project on github (this is optional, but it's easiest to submit the finished project as a github repo).

For simplicity I'll just use the original CarND-Path-Planning-Project (without forking):

C:\Projects\udacity\carnd3> git clone

Move the Visual Studio project and solution files into the cloned project folder:

copy project files

(At this point you can delete the now empty folder where the Visual Studio project was created.)

The project folder will look something like this:

project with vs files

Open the Visual Studio solution by double clicking the .sln file. We'll add the src files to the solution next.

In the Solution Explorer right click Source Files and select Add → Existing Item... (or use the Shift+Alt+A shortcut):

solution explorer

Add all source files from the src folder (don't add Eigen, we'll include that later):

src files

Fix uWebSockets version issues

Unfortunately Udacity used an older version of uWebSockets. We need to change a couple things in main.cpp so it works with the latest version, while making sure that the code also compiles with the older version when the project is submitted for review. We'll do this with preprocessor directives.

First make sure that the x64 platform is selected for the solution (if you don't have this setting on the toolbar, you can also change it in Build → Configuration Manager → Active Solution Platform):

x64 platform

Select the project in the Solution Explorer (in this case path-planning) and open up its properties (right click → Properties or Alt+Enter). Make sure that All Configurations and x64 are active. Go to Configuration Properties → C/C++ → Preprocessor. Add this to Preprocessor Definitions (don't delete what's already there, just paste in front or after):


Should look like this:


Note: We added _USE_MATH_DEFINES because M_PI is not defined by default. _CRT_SECURE_NO_WARNINGS disables errors about sprintf being unsecure.

If you build the project now, you'll see several errors. This is because in the latest uWebSockets version the server parameter (uWS::WebSocket<uWS::SERVER> ws) is a pointer. So we'll take the lines where it's used and put them into a preprocessor condition:

#ifdef UWS_VCPKG
  // code fixed for latest uWebSockets
  // leave original code here

For example:

code before

Will look like this (added * to make ws a pointer and changed . to ->):

code fixed

You can look at the whole fixed main.cpp file here.


If for some reason the Eigen headers are not found automatically, add the folder where it's located in the project's Properties → Configuration Properties → C/C++ → General → Additional Include Directories (in this case src):


There is a custom view definition for Eigen objects so they look nice in Visual Studio's debugger. To install:

  • get Eigen.natvis from this github page (right click on Raw → Save link as... ).
  • copy it to the project's folder
  • add as Existing Item to Source Files in the Solution Explorer


Fix simulator connection

One last thing: we have to tell uWebSockets to listen on, otherwise the simulator won't connect.

Modify this line:

    if (h.listen(port)) {

to this:

    if (h.listen("", port)) {

And that's it! You can now code in Visual Studio and the reviewer will be able to compile your submission using cmake. As long as you add new source files to the src folder, cmake will pick them up.

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