I'm kind of happy with myself at the moment. I've found that Visual Studio project files are about the only reliable way I can get things to compile with Visual C++'s compiler on my lone windows machine. Since i greatly prefer using a command prompt for development work, having to alt tab between programs like VCExpress/devenv and Explorer windows are not something I'll put up with if I don't have to lol.
Since I do require a real mans editor, I set the IDE to load gvim as the default editor for source files; soon I'll rig it to use vim's client-server feature (:he client-server). Like wise that made Visual C++ little more then a very big project management and build system. Some weeks ago whilst looking for cl/link (compiler/linker) switches and a reference to nmake (Microsoft's make utility), I found the vcbuild utility; which is the "Visual C++ Project Builder - Command Line Version". So far it seems to be very suitable, which would mean the IDE is now only needed for managing the project and solution files, right? Well, not really!
When I started using Microsoft's development environment (this box only has the Express editions; I usually do development on my FreeBSD powered laptop!) the first thing I did was look at the .sln and .vcproj files it creates. The solution file (.sln) basically describes the bigger picture in XML format; for my present projects it does little more then reference the project files (.vcproj) that make up the solutions. The project files are also in XML, ''. It defines the various details, essentially what you get in the IDEs configuration manager for a specific project, and the files in the solution explorer. I was very happy to see Visual C++ using XML files, because it means I can *read* the things before opening them with an IDE.
Since the files are XML, and the format is pretty obvious: one can modify the project file quiet easily, and adding/subtracting things like source files, include directories, and libraries is a trivial task. If it wasn't for the use of ProjectGUID's I might never need to run the IDE again :-/. Who knows, maybe I won't even need that in a while lol.