With regard to graphics programming experience - you're getting some now, huh?!
I'm not exactly sure what the inflection is here. Are you saying this is too early for a programmer to learn graphics programming or too late, or are you stated that I am currently getting experience? I don't mean to sound condescending I'm just wondering what you meant and where that means I am now (I.E. ahead of the curve, behind, doesn't matter where)
EDIT: an alternative, depending on how much time you have to work on your project - download Visual Studio (you can get a free version, maybe even a full-blown version being a college student). Create a version of your plugin as a standalone, test it thoroughly there and create another version as the plugin. Actually, you may save time overall by doing that. At worst, you appear to be interested in that type of programming so get into Visual Studio.
I have been using visual c++ 2008 express edition. It was recommended by my client, because it can compile the byte code within 1KB. I do have Visual studio somewhere on this computer and I think that it is a full version (because I'm a student). I guess I should be giving that a try? I will try it.
This has to do with my question about HRESULT, which is essentially, "How can I make some custom text output that I can reference, while in this plugin?"
If the app has a console window (which it should, if it doesn't), std::cout ( or printf() ) would work. Or launch the app from a cmd window. Otherwise, take a look at OutputDebugString(). The latter outputs c-strings, which requires you to format your output string if you want to output numbers. Again, if you're not launching it from Visual Studio, you'll have to find a debug message monitor like debugview.
For clarity's sake let me say that back as I understood it to make sure I have it right. If I use Visual Studio it should give me a debug message monitor. How do I access this monitor? Do I need to do anything special with my .dll file? I really have no idea how to test it, except to build it and launch the main app, and then use the plugin to see what happens. An alternative quicker or more custom-message-friendly testing method would be showered with my love.
EDIT: What did you think of my process I outlined in my previous post? Did it look appropriate?