Getting started using Emscripten from Visual Studio

Windows Developers can develop, compile, and launch their Emscripten projects from Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 (only). This topic shows you how.


Visual Studio 2011 and 2012 are not supported.

Integrating Emscripten and Visual Studio

Emscripten is integrated into Visual Studio (2010) using the vs-tool plugin, which is automatically deployed by the Windows NSIS Installer Emscripten SDK if Visual Studio 2010 is present on your system at install time (it is also possible to manually integrate Emscripten into Visual Studio 2010).

The vs-tool plugin adds an Emscripten configuration to the list of available Solution Configurations in Visual Studio. Activate this configuration for a solution/project to make Visual Studio run the project build through Emscripten, producing .html or .js output depending on the configured project properties.

How to build a Visual Studio solution using Emscripten

First select the Emscripten configuration from the Configuration Manager dropdown as the active configuration. Then choose Build Solution (F7).

How to launch a project in a web browser from Visual Studio

To launch a project directly to a web browser from Visual Studio:

  1. Create a new environment variable EMCC_WEBBROWSER_EXE and set it to point to an executable you want to use to browse web pages generated using Emscripten via Visual Studio. Any browser can be used — below we specify Mozilla Firefox:

    SETX EMCC_WEBBROWSER_EXE C:/Program Files (x86)/Mozilla Firefox/firefox.exe
  2. Right-click on the project to run, choose Set as Startup Project, and select Start without Debugging (Ctrl+F5).

This should launch the generated .html file to the browser you specified in EMCC_WEBBROWSER_EXE.


Visual Studio occasionally opens an “Executable for Debug Session” dialog when you hit Ctrl+F5. This can be ignored by clicking Yes and then No, or simply by hitting Esc and then tapping Ctrl+F5 again.

Specifying project compiler settings

Fastcomp (Clang+LLVM) and Emscripten compiler settings can be edited for the project in exactly the same way as other settings in Visual Studio. First make sure that the Emscripten platform configuration is active, right-click on a project, and then choose Properties to open the Project properties dialog.

The Project Properties should contain two tree nodes: Clang C/C++ and Emcc Linker. These allow you to specify the desired compilation options.

Porting an existing solution file to use Emscripten

To add Emscripten as a build option for an existing project:

  1. Open the Configuration Manager dialog for the solution.
  2. In the Active Solution Platform dropdown, choose New.
  3. In the New dialog, choose Emscripten as the platform name, and Copy settings from Empty.

Now you should be able to switch between building the solution for Win32 and Emscripten by selecting the desired option from the Configuration Manager dropdown list.

Creating a new Visual Studio solution for Emscripten

To create a new Visual Studio project for Emscripten, first create a Visual C++ Empty Project (a new project for the Win32 platform). Then convert that project to also build for Emscripten as outlined in the previous section: Porting an existing solution file to use Emscripten.