What You Need to Know About C++ Programming Language

What is C++

C++ was designed with a bias toward system programming and embedded, resource-constrained and large systems, with performance, efficiency and flexibility of use as its design highlights. C++ has also been found useful in many other contexts, with key strengths being software infrastructure and resource-constrained applications, including desktop applications, servers (e.g. e-commerce, web search or SQL servers), and performance-critical applications (e.g. telephone switches or space probes). C++ is a compiled language, with implementations of it available on many platforms and provided by various organizations, including the Free Software Foundation (FSF's GCC), LLVM, Microsoft, Intel and IBM.

C++ is standardized by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), with the latest standard version ratified and published by ISO in December 2014 as ISO/IEC 14882:2014 (informally known as C++14). The C++ programming language was initially standardized in 1998 as ISO/IEC 14882:1998, which was then amended by the C++03, ISO/IEC 14882:2003, standard. The current C++14 standard supersedes these and C++11, with new features and an enlarged standard library. Before the initial standardization in 1998, C++ was developed by Bjarne Stroustrup at Bell Labs since 1979, as an extension of the C language as he wanted an efficient and flexible language similar to C, which also provided high-level features for program organization.

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Many other programming languages have been influenced by C++, including C#, Java, and newer versions of C (after 1998).

To give compiler vendors greater freedom, the C++ standards committee decided not to dictate the implementation of name mangling, exception handling, and other implementation-specific features. The downside of this decision is that object code produced by different compilers is expected to be incompatible. There were, however, attempts to standardize compilers for particular machines or operating systems (for example C++ ABI), though they seem to be largely abandoned now.

History of C++

The C++ programming language has a history going back to 1979, when Bjarne Stroustrup was doing work for his Ph.D. thesis. One of the languages Stroustrup had the opportunity to work with was a language called Simula, which as the name implies is a language primarily designed for simulations. The Simula 67 language - which was the variant that Stroustrup worked with - is regarded as the first language to support the object-oriented programming paradigm. Stroustrup found that this paradigm was very useful for software development, however the Simula language was far too slow for practical use.

Bjarne Stroustrup the founder of C++

Shortly thereafter, he began work on "C with Classes", which as the name implies was meant to be a superset of the C language. His goal was to add object-oriented programming into the C language, which was and still is a language well-respected for its portability without sacrificing speed or low-level functionality. His language included classes, basic inheritance, inlining, default function arguments, and strong type checking in addition to all the features of the C language.

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The first C with Classes compiler was called Cfront, which was derived from a C compiler called CPre. It was a program designed to translate C with Classes code to ordinary C. A rather interesting point worth noting is that Cfront was written mostly in C with Classes, making it a self-hosting compiler (a compiler that can compile itself). Cfront would later be abandoned in 1993 after it became difficult to integrate new features into it, namely C++ exceptions. Nonetheless, Cfront made a huge impact on the implementations of future compilers and on the Unix operating system.

In 1983, the name of the language was changed from C with Classes to C++. The ++ operator in the C language is an operator for incrementing a variable, which gives some insight into how Stroustrup regarded the language. Many new features were added around this time, the most notable of which are virtual functions, function overloading, references with the & symbol, the const keyword, and single-line comments using two forward slashes (which is a feature taken from the language BCPL).

In 1985, Stroustrup's reference to the language entitled The C++ Programming Language was published. That same year, C++ was implemented as a commercial product. The language was not officially standardized yet, making the book a very important reference. The language was updated again in 1989 to include protected and static members, as well as inheritance from several classes.

In 1990, The Annotated C++ Reference Manual was released. The same year, Borland's Turbo C++ compiler would be released as a commercial product. Turbo C++ added a plethora of additional libraries which would have a considerable impact on C++'s development. Although Turbo C++'s last stable release was in 2006, the compiler is still widely used.

In 1998, the C++ standards committee published the first international standard for C++ ISO/IEC 14882:1998, which would be informally known as C++98. The Annotated C++ Reference Manual was said to be a large influence in the development of the standard. The Standard Template Library, which began its conceptual development in 1979, was also included. In 2003, the committee responded to multiple problems that were reported with their 1998 standard, and revised it accordingly. The changed language was dubbed C++03.

In 2005, the C++ standards committee released a technical report (dubbed TR1) detailing various features they were planning to add to the latest C++ standard. The new standard was informally dubbed C++0x as it was expected to be released sometime before the end of the first decade. Ironically, however, the new standard would not be released until mid-2011. Several technical reports were released up until then, and some compilers began adding experimental support for the new features.

In mid-2011, the new C++ standard (dubbed C++11) was finished. The Boost library project made a considerable impact on the new standard, and some of the new modules were derived directly from the corresponding Boost libraries. Some of the new features included regular expression support (details on regular expressions may be found here), a comprehensive randomization library, a new C++ time library, atomics support, a standard threading library (which up until 2011 both C and C++ were lacking), a new for loop syntax providing functionality similar to foreach loops in certain other languages, the auto keyword, new container classes, better support for unions and array-initialization lists, and variadic templates.

C++ Facts

1) The 1st thing to know about C++ is that it isn't easy language to learn. You can't learn C++ very fast. It takes time to learn C++. Dr. Bjarne Stroustrup also says that C++ is a complicated programming language.

2) One of the major strength of C++ is that it supports various programming styles. It is a multiparadigm programming language that not only supports Object oriented programming paradigm but also supports many other paradigms. And this is also the reason behind success of C++.

3) Concept of reference variables & operator overloading borrowed from Algol 68 programming language.

4) // single line comment borrowed from BCPL programming language.

5) comma , is used in 2 contexts as a operator & as a seperator.

6) Friend function enhances encapsulation if they used properly. Friend functions are very useful in operator overloading.

7) C++ is a strongly typed language & fortunately many warnings in C are compiler errors in C++. You must explicitly cast the void* appropriate pointer. Also, there are differences between int f() & int f(void) in C but both are having same meaning in C++.

8) There are 6 storage class specifiers in C++: auto, register, static, extern, typedef, mutable

9) The concept of inline functions borrowed from Ada programming language.

10) C++ got OO features from Simula67 Programming language.

11) C++ & C invented at same place: AT&T bell laboratories.

12) There are 84 keywords in C++.

13) Unexpected object slicing can occur when derived class object is passed to a method which expects object of a base class.

14) Default arguments can't be given in both function prototype & function definition.

15) Function overloading doesn't work with inheritance.

16) Destructor can be pure virtual.

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