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Programming

Interviews: Ask Bjarne Stroustrup About Programming and C++ 427

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-ahead-and-ask dept.
In addition to being the creator of C++, Bjarne Stroustrup is a Managing Director in the technology division of Morgan Stanley, a Visiting Professor in Computer Science at Columbia University, and a Distinguished Research Professor in Computer Science at Texas A&M University. Bjarne has written a number of books and was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He will be doing a live Google + Q & A within the C++ community on August 20th, 2014 at 12:30pm EST, but has agreed to answer your questions first. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.
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Interviews: Ask Bjarne Stroustrup About Programming and C++

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  • also: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slashdice (3722985) on Thursday August 14, 2014 @12:03PM (#47671441)
    Has everyone responsible for the std::vector<bool> tragedy been kicked in the nuts until they are no longer at risk of reproducing?
  • by UnknownSoldier (67820) on Thursday August 14, 2014 @12:24PM (#47671621)

    This needs to be modded +10.

    C++ has become a clusterfuck of engineering.

    Some of the most painful moments of my life were working on a professional C++ compiler. Almost everyone uses the EDG front end to minimize the pain of parsing C++ into an AST.

  • by Jay Maynard (54798) on Thursday August 14, 2014 @12:28PM (#47671663) Homepage

    I learned C++ the hard way: by hacking on a million-LOC program. It's taught me to loathe the language. It's big, complex, and incomprehensible. I once spent three days chasing a bug through a twisty little maze of templates, all different. I routinely struggle with the implications of static vs. not, member variables vs. globals vs. statics, functions that are part of a class vs. those that aren't... Getting code to even compile is often an exercise in trying something, running the build process, then trying something else, lather, rinse, repeat. It's left me frustrated enough to want to drive to College Station and scream at the walls.

    All of this has left me wishing for the days of C, in which I'm quite fluent.

    Nevertheless, the world seems (perhaps overly) enamored of C++, and I'm probably going to have to deal with it. How do I learn to at least tolerate it, if not like it, instead of actively hating it?

  • by just_another_sean (919159) on Thursday August 14, 2014 @12:30PM (#47671681) Homepage Journal

    A practical joke? Are you joking? C++ is not designed so that every feature must be learned and used. It's complexity derives from the fact that it supports OOP, functional programming, generic programming and I'm sure others that Bjarne would happily describe to you and the reasoning behind supporting features being included in the language. Those that are confused by C++'s complexity are doing it wrong. As with Perl it's OK to use only what you're comfortable with, no one is going to make fun of you for not using advanced features and if you like you can keep a C++ program pretty basic.

    But it supports all these features to give people what they need to get their jobs done. Lambdas looked a little strange to me at first too but as I studied the examples in Bjarne's book they became clear and I think they are quite expressive, easy to use and worth looking into, especially when you combine them with the types and algorithms in the STL.

    Look, I'm a Bjarne fanboy, have been since I started programming in the 90's so maybe my bias is showing through but I never thought I'd come to an article about C++ on /. and find the only comments above a 3 were people whining about how complex a programming language is. Programming is complex, system's programming doubly so and C++ is designed to help reduce that complexity, while at the same time remaining resource efficient, when it's used correctly. If it's too hot to handle for you there is always Visual Basic.

  • by Katatsumuri (1137173) on Thursday August 14, 2014 @12:39PM (#47671737)

    it's OK to use only what you're comfortable with

    ...until you have to read, debug, maintain and extend someone else's code.

  • by Immerman (2627577) on Thursday August 14, 2014 @01:02PM (#47671925)

    And? Life is a learning experience, so break out the reference manuals and learn something new. Unless you've been thrown in way over your head it's unlikely you'll encounter more than one or two new methodologies in any given codebase, and it'll probably be pretty glaringly obvious when you run into a language feature you don't understand.

  • by dentin (2175) on Thursday August 14, 2014 @01:31PM (#47672231) Homepage

    This is a very good set of observations, and I also feel that C++ has become a 'niche language for insiders'. The syntax is difficult; it's remarkably easy to shoot yourself in the foot in unobvious ways; and porting can be problematic, as no two compilers compile the same code the same way. Trivial mistakes such as pointer aliasing are often compiled -silently and without error-, producing different results at different optimization levels, and -this is considered normal-. Over the years, you learn these things and you figure out which things to avoid, but for new people coming into the language, it's a huge barrier to entry.

    If the goal is to really get a lot more programmers to use it, the base syntax almost certainly needs to be improved. Rather than providing some obscure syntax to do some obscure library feature, make it easy to do simple things and make the language as idiotproof as possible. Make compilers either strictly produce well defined output as per the spec, or throw an error. Do -something- to improve template syntax.

    Pretty much all of the new features I've seen in the C++11 spec are niche features, things used by high-end library writers with 20 years of experience to do complicated library things. That's good, libraries are important. But libraries will not translate into users if normal users cannot use them, and libraries will not translate into users if the language itself is the bulk of the learning curve.

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