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[Discuss] OT Rant/Discussion C vs C++

On 12/15/2012 04:03 PM, Mark Woodward wrote:
> I started programming back in the 1970s. When I learned C, C was a new
> language. ANSI C was a big thing and we had to "port" to ANSI C
> because various vendors implemented vagueness in the C syntax
> differently. Those of us who understood portability between C
> compilers fared better. Anyway, when C++ came along, it was a similar
> sort of deal. The rough edges around the language were different
> across different vendors. Templates especially. Understanding this
> always made maintaining the code, over time, easier.
> As C++ developed, those of us who were conservative in our
> implementations fared well in the Borland/Microsoft C++ war.  In
> adopting C++, the general rule was to use the "safe" constructs of the
> language and use only those aspects of the language that facilitated
> the architecture and leave the rest alone. Even today, aspects of C++
> create immense bloat in code. (Templates)
> Maybe old habits are hard to break, I don't know, but I still consider
> the old way a good design philosophy. The whole "[OT] C++ strings"
> discussion is a perfect example. A C++ programmer and/or architect
> should resist the temptation to be "language lawyers" and design
> software that requires understanding the arcana of the language to
> understanding the body of the code. It may be clever, but it makes the
> code hard to understand and of reduced value in the future.
Clear and concise code with good comments works well in C, C++, COBOL,
and Fortran. Essentially I consider myself a C programmer although I
used to work in COBOL and Fortran, and nearly all the code I work with
today is C++, BASH scripts and tcl. Much of my career has been involved
with having to maintain some very old code. At Digital, I had lint, lex,
yacc, and a bunch of other as well as the Assembler for the Alpha (which
I was on a small development team to write). Whenever you get into code
maintenance, you get to see why it is important to write relatively
clear and concise code. I was also on the team to write an ANSI C
compiler for the PDP11 before the standard was adopted. I still have one
of the draft standards we used in 1988. My job was to write the entire
standard C library in C, not assembler. We also had to fully comply with
the draft standard. The math library was the only part I had some
difficulty with.

Jerry Feldman <gaf at>
Boston Linux and Unix
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