May 27, 2022

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As a coding language, C++ appeals to the ego, not the intellect

3 min read

I observe that this site has a tendency to extol the virtues of C++ as a programming language. As somebody who has labored with C++ and who has followed the discussion about its use for a lengthy time, I consider it can be time to established the history straight.

The truth of the matter is that C++ is one particular of the worst languages at any time foisted on the business. Considerably from currently being made use of in contemporary trading techniques, C++ must now only be used for legacy projects. It is based mostly about device contemplating, which is not programming contemplating.

Generations of programmers have been misled by C and C++. A lot of have fallen into the black gap of its cult with trite platitudes like ‘under the hood programming’, which means no additional than driving together with the hood open up, striving to repair the engine, but not able to see the street. Cult followers urge stop-buyers to “have confidence in the programmer”, which is silly and naive, but appeals to the programmer’s moi. And programmers are intended to have “freedom,” even though no 1 at any time states freedom from what.-  It truly is absolutely not freedom from the flaws and traps of C++.

Programming is about programming and not about components equipment (programs run on theoretical devices). That looks tough to understand and counter to people’s intuition. C++ just supports the intuitive and populist pondering in its place of making an attempt to correct it.

So not only is C++ technically undesirable, but it is culturally negative because it appeals to the ego, relatively than the intellect.

I am not the only one particular to dislike C++. Ken Thompson, the Bell Labs researcher who applied the authentic Unix running method, described it as a “undesirable language” which is “way too major, way far too complex” and “of course designed by a committee.” Damningly, Thompson also claimed that C++ does, “a great deal of factors half well” but is “just a rubbish heap of concepts that are mutually exceptional.”

The difficulty is that C++ is based mostly on C and C itself is not a fantastic language. It is full of flaws and compromises. It compromised on compiler engineering, permanently forcing programmers to get treatment of depth that really should quickly be performed by a compiler. In change, C was based mostly on B, which was primarily based on Martin Richards’ BCPL, which by itself was a minimize down on Christopher Strachey’s CPL, which was also ambitions to be implemented at the time. It is Strachey who is the actual genius listed here in my view, not people like Bjarne Stroustrup, who now operates for Morgan Stanley and who hacked OO into C to produce C++, even while C was not a very good base. 

Either way, if you are making an attempt to find out C++ and you are battling to learn it, it truly is not you that’s the difficulty. The language is flawed. Planning a programming language is quite complicated, and C++ is simply just not that effectively-built. Programs programming and application programming are two pretty individual items, and C++’s actual problem is that it tries to merge them the two. 

Ian Joyner has performed numerous items, which includes marketplace programming, techniques programming, language and programming study and compiler development, networking, distributed technique standards and lecturing. 

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