Some thoughts on C++

David Norfolk

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Published: 7th January, 2013
Content Copyright © 2013 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.

I've always been a bit nervous of C++ - I learned about writing efficient code with IBM 370 assembler and I learned about objects with Simula. When I first met C++, my boss presented it as an easy way to claim an Object Technology win - by just recompiling all our C programs - and I thought it presented all the opportunities for messing up memory with "clever programming" that I thought we'd left behind when we stopped using assembler. I guess I'm naturally a Java - or Scala - person.

Nevertheless, C++ has its points and it hasn't stood still (see the Bloor Research Note on C++). Embarcadero, with a strong provenance in C++ compilers through its Borland acquisition, thinks that the time is due for a resurgence - and there's a lot of C++ code out there already, of course.

Embarcadero's new compiler, C++Builder XE3, emphasises cross-platform development using C++ v11 - the latest C++ standard - for mobile devices in particular. It produces native code for Windows 8 and Mac OS X PCs, laptops, and Intel based mobile devices from a single C++ codebase, developed by a single development team. This will be extended for Apple's iOS and Android ARM mobile devices in 2013. It also includes a 64-bit compiler and VCL update for existing C++Builder customers enabling the move to 64-bit for millions of existing Windows applications.

Whether this will be enough to stem the move to higher-level languages like Java or C# for general computing remains to be seen but there is a lot of existing C++ code out there and the cross-platform development story is a strong one. And there are a lot of loyal C++ programmers. C++ hasn't gone away and perhaps the combination of a new compiler and a new standard will be enough to excite new interest.

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