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This book shares the hard-won wisdom of a highly-successful C++/C programmer - along with a large collection of ANSI-compliant programs that illustrate the true power of C++. This book includes a wide variety of ideas, tips and techniques for programmers of all skill levels. It presents little-known facts about pointers and the preprocessor that are a must for the professional developer. It offers tips and techniques for more effective use of abstraction, templates, bit manipulation, visibility, control structures and exceptions. The book also shows how to make the most of the Standard C and Standard C++ libraries, covering containers and iterators; algorithms; text and file processing; time and date processing; and memory management. For C++ and C professional developers, consultants, faculty and students of all skill levels.
This book serves as a voice of experience for those who wish to strengthen their skills and improve their effectiveness in the workplace. Despite current fervor for the object-oriented paradigm (which this book abundantly embraces), I make no excuse for paying homage to the C foundations of C++. I have found too many developers ill-prepared to master C++ because they lack a thorough understanding of basic concepts such as pointers, scope, linkage, and static type checking. Perhaps the biggest deficiency of all is a lack of familiarity with the standard C library. It is sad indeed when developers waste time reinventing what the library functions already provide so well. The C++ novice is often too eager to abandon (i.e., gloss over) simple C in favor of the "exciting" features of C++, such as inheritance, exceptions, or overriding operator new, even when such are not warranted. I feel confident that everyone will learn something from these pages. Chapters 1 and 13 through 16 are strictly C++ chapters. Chapters 4 through 6 apply only to the C language. All other chapters cover both the C and C++ aspects of their respective topic. That said, this is primarily a C++ book. As it goes to press, the C++ standardization effort is in its home stretch. The second public committee draft (CD2) has completed its cycle and only minor edits remain. As a member of this committee since early 1991, I have seen its document grow from 200 to over 750 pages. We have added exceptions, templates, namespaces, runtime type identification (RTTI) and other features to the language, and a sophisticated, templatized system of interrelated algorithms, containers, and iteration constructs to the library (commonly known as the Standard Template Library, or STL). Unlike other standards efforts, this committee has concentrated as much on invention as on standardizing existing practice. The overwhelming intricacies of C++ caused one Internet surfer to post this message: "If C gives you enough rope to hang yourself, then C++ gives you enough rope to hang everyone in your neighborhood, hoist the riggings of a small sailing ship, and still have enough left over to hang yourself." I have labored to illustrate and motivate standard C++ and its library in such a way that you might use your rope more wisely.
The first chapter (Chapter 0), an excerpt from an interview I conducted with Bjarne Stroustrup, records his feelings about the state of C++ as it becomes a standard. The rest of the book is divided into three parts.
Part I: Preliminaries
After a brief tour of C++, these chapters close some of the gaps a typical C programmer might have before s/he prepares to tackle C++. Chapter 2, "Pointers," is based on a well-received three-part series I ran in the C Users Journal in 1993. Chapters 4 through 6 cover what every professional should know about the standard C library, which is a crucial part of standard C++. Part II: Key Concepts
This section thoroughly motivates and illustrates the concepts and features of the C++ language. Chapter 7 introduces data abstraction through classes, and Chapter 8 covers type abstraction as implemented by the C++ template mechanism. Templates are every bit as crucial to the effective use of C++ as objects are, perhaps even more so. Chapter 14 not only treats inheritance and polymorphism, but also illustrates object-oriented design and reuse as it presents a framework for object persistence that works with today's relational database management systems. The chapters in between give the reader depth in important fundamental concepts that too many developers tend to overlook. Part III: Leveraging the Standard Library
Chapters 15 through 20 show how to use and appreciate the notable components of the standard C++ library, as well as elucidate some of the more sophisticated features of the standard C library that went beyond the scope of Chapters 4, 5, and 6. Chapters 15 and 16 explain why the STL subset of the library is what it is, and how to use it effectively. Chapter 19 contains a useful date component that can even handle partial dates, a common business data processing requirement.
In summary, this is book about what works. I've attempted to steer the reader away from the "gotchas" by illustrating "best practices" with a reasonable balance of breadth and depth. Why another C++ book in 1998? Because the language and library haven't stabilized until now. This book goes to press just one week after the standards committee met to approve the final draft of ISO C++, and I have taken care to steer clear of any dark corners that remain (all languages and environment have them). I am confident that all the material in this book will be timely for years to come.
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