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Zyndrof

What makes C++ so powerful?

148 posts in this topic

Quote:
Original post by Zyndrof Is there any language that can compare with C++?


D. It's got a lot of the advantages of languages like C# and Java (garbage collection), but it's compiled to native code, so it doesn't need a bytecode interpreter. It doesn't have a preprocessor, but what there is is an improvement.

For example, instead of the C/C++ #include, we have import:


import std.c.stdio


Instead of:


#include <stdio.h>


D also doesn't need a #pragma once directive or #ifdef/#define/#endif blocks, since the import directive takes care of that for you.

There's lots of other stuff, but I don't want to make my post too long. [grin]

The one problem with it is that since it's so young, it doesn't have a very large codebase, and not many libraries have been ported to it yet (though I believe a port of SDL and some other APIs, similar to the .Net Tao project, is in progress).

edit: Forgot to mention FreeBASIC. [grin] FreeBASIC is much like C, but it's got a syntax that is very close to English, so it's good for beginners in most cases. It's fast, too, and in some cases it's actually faster than C/C++. When they get OOP working properly it'll be even better.

[Edited by - Oberon_Command on May 9, 2006 4:02:08 PM]
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Original post by Zyndrof
Hmm... Whenever I start to feel that I have a little hang of this programming thing, more questions comes to mind and more answers makes more questions :P

I recently won a book on VB.net and am trying to decide if I should focus on C++ at the moment or start VB.net instead. It's hard not to use the book that lies waiting in the shelf :/

If my long-time goal is to start (or at least try) game programming, would VB.net be an alternative? The thing is, if I like doing game programming, there shouldn't be any problem switching to a more suitable language for the task. But if I find out I don't like it and want to stick with regular applications, what are the pros and cons of C++ and VB.net?


When you become a "good programmer" you won't be using just one language. Start wherever you can and learn as much as you can about as many languages as you can. A good programmer doesn't try to fit a square peg into a round hole, or use a language in a task for which it is ill-suited.

Perhaps the wisdom of Miyamoto Musashi might help here:
Quote:
"You should not have a favourite weapon. To become over-familiar with one weapon is as much a fault as not knowing it sufficiently well."

More specifically, I don't like VB very much, but it's easy to learn. If you're technically savvy, you could set up a python interpretor, and try that language instead. Your goal should just be to start learning and never stop.
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Original post by Zyndrof
Hmm... Whenever I start to feel that I have a little hang of this programming thing, more questions comes to mind and more answers makes more questions :P

I recently won a book on VB.net and am trying to decide if I should focus on C++ at the moment or start VB.net instead. It's hard not to use the book that lies waiting in the shelf :/

If my long-time goal is to start (or at least try) game programming, would VB.net be an alternative? The thing is, if I like doing game programming, there shouldn't be any problem switching to a more suitable language for the task. But if I find out I don't like it and want to stick with regular applications, what are the pros and cons of C++ and VB.net?


Look, my feelings on this are that you're wasting too much time trying to make the "perfect" choice with regards to which language to choose. There is no "perfect" language. Of course some languages are more suited at tackling some problems while other languages are more well suited for other areas of programming.

BUT If you're just starting out and want to do some grame and/or graphics programming, either VB.NET or C++ are adequate. Just pick one at random or whatever.

I would recommend C++ based on the fact that most game/graphics resources use C++, but that's just me. Other people will suggest VB.NET, other C#, other Python. It really doesn't matter - just get cracking my friend. [smile]
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Original post by Zyndrof
I recently won a book on VB.net and am trying to decide if I should focus on C++ at the moment or start VB.net instead. It's hard not to use the book that lies waiting in the shelf :/
I'd recommend picking one language and sticking to it, at least until you reach an 'intermediate' level with it. If you stick with C++ for now, and use it until you're comfortable, then when you switch to VB.net you'll find that many of the concepts in the language are the same.

If you've got a bunch of languages that can do the same thing, they'll usually 'evolve' the same sort of features, because that's what the situation demands of them.

(Have you ever wondered that the majority of living creatures on this planet have eyes? That's because eyes are a useful "feature" for survival when there's a lot of interesting different colours and lights around. If the planet were pitch-black, nobody would have bothered evolving them because they'd be useless).
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Original post by Zyndrof
How come there haven't been any language to surpass C++ in these 26 years?


There have been languages to surpase C++ in 26. First an foremost, C++.

The C++ that existed even 15-20 years ago (such as Microsoft C/C++ 7.0, Borland Turbo C++ 3.0, etc) was NOT the same as the C++ that was created and then standardized between 1993-1998 - with templates and the STL. The addition of templates and an amazing library concept revitalized C++ in time when it would have started a dramatic decline in comparitive productivity against languages like Java, Python, ruby, etc ...

Even the final details thare are the difference between what non-compliant Visual C++ 6.0 can do vs. almost completely compliant Visual C++ 7.1 are enourmous in terms of that final touch needed to write ultra-powerfull, cleanly designed, and highly performant libraries. (When I say cleaning designed in this context, I mean EXTERNAL design, not the internal implementations design which is often very very tedious).

Other languages let developers get more work done - but C++ lets developers get a whole lot of work done, while letting the computer get more work done. (I'm not saying most C++ programs are significantly more efficient than other more modern languages, I'm saying C++ programs have the option of pursuing that path when necessary).
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What makes C++ a powerful language, when not taking language or platform-specific frameworks (.NET, J2SE, MFC, etc) into account is that it has a lot of different features that can be used.

In particular, the following features are what makes C++ great:
-Templates. The ability to write type independent code gives a great advantage. Templates make it possible to write a piece of code once and then use it with many different types and/or other configurations without having to make abstractions or writing the same code many times.
-References. References give you the power of pointers with compile time sanity checking. The automagic referencing in Java seems a little awkward to me. Languages with no references or pointers need some way to pass data back and forth to procedures and functions, which is either done by global variables or moving lots of data back and forth to the procedure and it's caller.
-Operator overloading. This is a great feature. Together with templates, operator overloading makes some tasks a lot simpler, take std::sort for example. In game programming, it's convinient to have mathematical operators without doing something like Matrix.multiply(Vector). What I don't like is the way that they are used in C++ streams, but it's a matter of opinion.
-Object oriented programming, virtual functions, etc. These are pretty much in every other language too. But worth mentioning, tho. On the other hand, OOP makes bad programmers' code even worse, when they start using overkill design patterns for simple tasks.
-It compiles into native code. 'nuff said.

Things that could have been done better in C++:
-Interfaces. There are no Java-like interfaces in C++. You can use multiple inheritance, but that is much much more complicated than using interfaces in Java.
-The fact that C++ standards are relatively young. C++ is constantly evolving, even the most basic features of the actual language, not just STL and other frameworks surronding it. This is frustrating, because you will have to learn new features of C++ as it develops. On the other hand, the new standards are backwards compatible, and thus they may suffer from some legacy stuff compared to all-new languages and environments.

Some bad things about C++ when taking platform and/or language specific frameworks into account:
-The lack of a standard framework. The amount of standard C++ stuff is very little compared to Java, for example. There is STL providing some neat stuff, tho.
-The need of using C code. You will most likely need to use various different libraries when doing a project. Most of them are C-only. Some people (IMO) waste a lot of time wrapping C into C++.
-Using different libraries doesn't give you that consistent API and naming convention there is in Java, for example. Of course there is the OpenGL-like naming movement (OpenAL, DevIL, etc). Windows and MFC users have adopted the hungarian notation and naming convention, which gives some consistency, tho.

There really isn't anything good what I can say about C++ and it's frameworks. I have not used MFC, because it's windows-only, I have no experience of DirectX, either. They might provide a nice and consistent API for windows programming (or then not).

The problem with Java is that it was designed badly in the first place. There is no operator overloading, no templates and the automagic referencing is pretty strange. And when it comes to the framework, the awful AWT of Java 1.x and it's legacy in the more recent versions have caused me a lot of premature hair loss. There is a lot of deprecated stuff in the Java framework, which have not been removed and are unlikely to be removed in close future. This makes the java framework a bit bloated and slow.

I have never used C# so I can't compare C++ to it. I've heard it's pretty good, tho. I can't compare .NET to other frameworks either.

What I am currently into is Python. I like programming with it, because it gives me a lot of freedom. On the other hand, the freedom I get is away from the power of C++. I like the syntax, too. Less {, [, ], }, ( and )-charactes needed and it's still readable.

This is my opinion about the matter. I hope I don't inflict a flame war on the subject. I have a bad habit of doing that.

-Riku

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Quote:
Original post by Zyndrof
Hmm... Whenever I start to feel that I have a little hang of this programming thing, more questions comes to mind and more answers makes more questions :P

I recently won a book on VB.net and am trying to decide if I should focus on C++ at the moment or start VB.net instead. It's hard not to use the book that lies waiting in the shelf :/

If my long-time goal is to start (or at least try) game programming, would VB.net be an alternative? The thing is, if I like doing game programming, there shouldn't be any problem switching to a more suitable language for the task. But if I find out I don't like it and want to stick with regular applications, what are the pros and cons of C++ and VB.net?


In the long term, it won't make any difference. In the short term, C++ has a steep learning curve, so another langauge might be better suited for beginners. But as I said, once you've got started, it doesn't matter either way. It won't be a handicap in the long term that you started with something other than C++, that's for sure. So basically, don't worry. Pick a language at random, and try to learn it. [smile]

Quote:

Spoonbender, I have to disagree with you there, having direct control over memory and the use of pointers gives C++ a huge advantage over other languages. You might not use this but a lot of us do.

What do you use it for? Is it something that couldn't be done in Java or C#? Do you actually *need* "direct" (although as was mentioned earlier, this is an illusion) memory control? The only time you *need* this is when writing low level drivers or kernels and similar. For everything else, you *could* just let the compiler handle memory management, if you used a language that allowed it. (Of course, in some circumstances this might be slightly slower, but that's not important here. I'm just pointing out that you don't *need* this low-level control)

Of course you use it as long as you're programming in C++, because C++ doesn't really offer a framework that can handle it for you.
If you were working in C#, I doubt you'd *need* it.
If you really disagree with me, then show me a program in C++ that couldn't have been made using C#.
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Original post by Spoonbender
If you really disagree with me, then show me a program in C++ that couldn't have been made using C#.


An operating system? You would need a C# compiler that compiles to native binary, and to the best of my knowledge there aren't any...

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I think its more of a question "what language not to pick". The only language of all the ones ive tried that I wouldnt recommend using is VB (not .NET), VB is getting old, isn't supported by MS anymore and so on..

I'd suggest starting with a fairly young OO language like Java or .NET(C#, VB.NET,...), once you get a hang of these it will be easier to switch to C++ if you will ever feel the need to.
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Original post by RichardoX
In particular, the following features are what makes C++ great:
-Templates.
-References.
-Operator overloading.
-Object oriented programming, virtual functions, etc.
-It compiles into native code.

None particular to C++. None exceptionally implemented in C++. I remember reading in an old issue of The C++ Report a comment by someone credited as the "inventor of templates" to the effect that, "When I invented templates, C++ was not what I had in mind." Admittedly, C++ has undergone significant revision since.

Fundamentally, there's nothing special about C++. It's a powerful language, but not significantly more so than dozens of alternatives. It's an efficient language, but it doesn't exactly blow the competition out of the water (and it lags badly in certain contexts). It's feature-rich, but mostly in comparison to C. What's really special about C++?

Legacy. It piggy-backed on C, which had enjoyed immense popularity as the first portable systems programming language. C++ is too verbose and large to be a systems programming language (unless you restrict yourself to a subset), and too arcane and under-powered to serve as a contemporary applications programming language. The Standards Committee knows this, so look for some significant enhancements/revisions with the next standard (or just take a look at some of the current drafts).

Quote:
Original post by Oberon_Command
An operating system? You would need a C# compiler that compiles to native binary, and to the best of my knowledge there aren't any...

THere weren't any native C++ compilers once upon a time, either, but they were written.
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I remember when I was first starting out. I played around with Quick Basic *shivers*, then went up to Pascal, learned C and finally C++. All the while only programming games. Along the way I played around with other languages as well such as FORTRAN, LISP, Object Pascal, and Visual Basic... Once you get the concepts of programming down, then you should be able to pick up a book or some documentation and put another language on your belt. Each language has it's own positives and negatives. The whole idea is very subjective so I won't try to tell you what is better. But if you're just starting out I would suggest something simple such as C# or Java since you can get something to show for your efforts very quickly. So, have fun learning.

-Dagbud
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Okay, I feel me questions have been answered and I will give .NET a shot and see how it works for me. I will also try to get into C++ in school (they have a course which demands you to have read another programming course which I haven't).

Thank you all for your help, and I promise I will try not to think about languages and instead think about programming :P
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Original post by Oluseyi
I remember reading in an old issue of The C++ Report a comment by someone credited as the "inventor of templates" to the effect that, "When I invented templates, C++ was not what I had in mind." Admittedly, C++ has undergone significant revision since.


Oddly enough, the same thing was said by Alan Kay about OOP. :)

Quote:

Legacy. It piggy-backed on C, which had enjoyed immense popularity as the first portable systems programming language. C++ is too verbose and large to be a systems programming language (unless you restrict yourself to a subset), and too arcane and under-powered to serve as a contemporary applications programming language. The Standards Committee knows this, so look for some significant enhancements/revisions with the next standard (or just take a look at some of the current drafts).


QFE.
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C++ is good if you really need to squeeze those last cpu cycles out of your system. I.E. We use it here at work to model Electronic Warfare tools. Something that C#, java or whatever, can't even touch with a 10 foot pole... of course, if the algorithm is effeciant and you don't need that level of performance all the other languages are more than optimal these days... I wouldn't write another GUI in C++, I would use C# or Java or something... they have greate interopability (sp) these days... I would rather spend time working on my game than writing GUI code in C++ ( shiver )...

Game in GDS
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Original post by RichardoX
The problem with Java is that it was designed badly in the first place. There is no operator overloading, no templates and the automagic referencing is pretty strange. And when it comes to the framework, the awful AWT of Java 1.x and it's legacy in the more recent versions have caused me a lot of premature hair loss. There is a lot of deprecated stuff in the Java framework, which have not been removed and are unlikely to be removed in close future. This makes the java framework a bit bloated and slow.

I have never used C# so I can't compare C++ to it. I've heard it's pretty good, tho. I can't compare .NET to other frameworks either.


This is the usual unbacked claim here in gamedev.net . People assume C# is better because of emotional appeal, maybe the 'C' in the name makes them feel better about it. It gives some impression that's a sequel to C++, doesn't it?

I think what nobody mentions about Java is that ALL methods and classes that are deprecated are marked so, the IDE will warn you about them, and the Javadocs tells exactly what to use instead. Unless you have VERY good reasons for using them there's no need to use it, and that wouldn't make Java slower either.

I can't really understand why anyone trying to find something "to talk about Java" touches this subject. Any project manager could tell you how much the developer hour cost and how much budget you have available for making things to work. So, would you prefer to rewrite your application, and sometimes redesign it, because of "no backward compatible changes" from one version to another?

An average Joe could see this and be eager to type:

"But why would anyone want to update to a new version!? Couldn't I just choose which one to use?"

- Performance updates;
- Library updates that bring new features for using in your projects that save LOTS of time (like the concurrent utilities in Java 5);
- Language updates;
- Bug fixes;
- etc.

They will need to clean that up one day, but radical changes are not good, except if you are Microsoft and your monopoly makes developers endure the pain or if you are an open source developer whose projects are a mess.
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I'll add some answers as of why it's powerful:

1) It's a middle-level language, meaning it has the best of high-level languages with the control and flexibility of assembly language. New languages are judge with C++. Most algorithms & examples (even DirectX) will be written in C++ code.

2) It is portable, but not in a platform sense as Java. This just means that assembly language is not portable from machine to machine, but using C/C++ as a layer above makes programming in it portable.

3) It has been used for numerous things, such as operating systems, interpreters, file utilities, device drivers, performance enhancers, etc.

4) It's a general language, meaning it's not tied to a commercial company such as Sun or Microsoft. If anyone owns it, I'd have to say ANSI/ISO.

5) For GUI development, there are third-party Windows APIs that are similar to C#'s syntax which indeed do the same work: access the Win32 API. Several companies use these for their GUI work. Visual Studio 2005 also has the C++/CLI which is full C++ with a C# syntax feel. It also has a full WYSIWYG editor!

SmartWin++: http://smartwin.sourceforge.net/
Gtkmm: http://gtkmm.sourceforge.net/
V GUI C++: http://www.objectcentral.com/
Qt: http://www.trolltech.com/

Why I use it more and more these days is because it can build operating systems to the most complex 3d games to date. I don't think any other language can claim this.

[Edited by - nullsmind on May 9, 2006 3:48:23 PM]
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Original post by nullsmind
1) It's a middle-level language, meaning it has the best of high-level languages with the control and flexibility of assembly language. New languages are judge with C++. Most algorithms & examples (even DirectX) will be written in C++ code.

So, basically, because "everyone's using it," it's great?

Quote:
2) It is portable, but not in a platform sense as Java. This just means that assembly language is not portable from machine to machine, but using C/C++ as a layer above makes programming in it portable.

Actually, contemporary C++ isn't very portable at all. Once you move beyond simple console I/O, you need complicated abstraction libraries to make the differences in platforms transparent to your code, and sometimes those differences are so ingrained that the library exhibits different behaviors on different platforms.

Quote:
3) It has been used for numerous things, such as operating systems, interpreters, file utilities, device drivers, performance enhancers, etc.

So has damn near every other language on earth.

Quote:
4) It's a general language, meaning it's not tied to a commercial company such as Sun or Microsoft. If anyone owns it, I'd have to say ANSI/ISO.

JavaScript is simply Netscape's branded version of ECMAScript (ActionScript is Macromedia's, LiveScript is Adobe's). C# is both an ISO and ECMA standard. The list goes on.



The vast majority of people stating "strengths" of C++ in this thread seem to be under-informed. Grain of salt, yadda yadda.
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Oluseyi, I'm suprised you're still here after all these years, and that you still have time to chat with us beginners! Half the time I see you quoting noobs and attack them. Maybe you should open a new board section called Rants. You'd fit perfect there :) Please get a life outside of this sometime. The real world may benefit from your knowledge, but not your social side. Maybe that's why you have time here.
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Original post by nullsmind
Oluseyi, I'm suprised you're still here after all these years, and that you still have time to chat with us beginners! Half the time I see you quoting noobs and attack them. Maybe you should open a new board section called Rants. You'd fit perfect there :) Please get a life outside of this sometime. The real world may benefit from your knowledge, but not your social side. Maybe that's why you have time here.


all he did was point out that you and many others here are misinformed programming language fanboys. i couldn't agree more with the following:
Quote:

The vast majority of people stating "strengths" of C++ in this thread seem to be under-informed. Grain of salt, yadda yadda.
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Original post by Oberon_Command
Quote:
Original post by Spoonbender
If you really disagree with me, then show me a program in C++ that couldn't have been made using C#.


An operating system? You would need a C# compiler that compiles to native binary, and to the best of my knowledge there aren't any...


Well, Microsoft is supposedly writing an operating system in C# as a research project called singularity so it is possible http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singularity_(operating_system).

Anyway to the OP: Don't restrict yourself to just C++ just because "everyone uses it". Try out different languages too, or even a completely different type of language like a functional language. It can only be beneficial to you the more languages you know and once you know one language, it's pretty simple to learn other languages. Since you're just starting out, I suggest you stick with one language at the beginning but to focus more on algorithms and general programming practices. These are the more important skills rather than knowing a programming language. Knowing a scripting language also helps because the trend in game programming is to only program the engine in C++ and use a scripting language to handle AI, actions etc.
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I agree with him partially but his response reminds me of an unsocial brat. I'm not suprised his sad life is wasted here on a daily basis. Anyway, I'm thankful that I don't have to deal with it any longer due to a new focus that's more realistic in the real world. I'm sorry that the rest of you have to deal with Oluseyi.
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Original post by nullsmind
Oluseyi, I'm suprised you're still here after all these years, and that you still have time to chat with us beginners! Half the time I see you quoting noobs and attack them. Maybe you should open a new board section called Rants. You'd fit perfect there :) Please get a life outside of this sometime. The real world may benefit from your knowledge, but not your social side. Maybe that's why you have time here.


I didn't see him attacking anyone... could you point out an example, please?

Maybe when I get my own OS working, I'll write a C# compiler for it so I can learn how to write C-like language compilers.
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There is no powerful, almighty, uber super programming language that has smashing advantages over the others BUT there is the concept of "chosing the most suitable language for the project requirements."

And one more thing to add, the power of the language depends on how efficiently you are using it.

And as a final thought, I found C++ very powerful for game development. Not just because of the features of the language but also the gaming community around it makes me think like that.

;)

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C++ is an amazing language, unlike any other. What really takes the cake, is that it can be an very high level language, WHILE still having the ability to be very low level. This is because, even though most will disagree with what I'm about to say, C++ is an "upperset" of C. They're different languages, but the syntax is the same. The main idea of C, as many have already said, is that it's supposed to be able to compile to a native, low level language, but still be considered a high level language. C++ does this also, except it incorporates many other things, such as OOP, templates, error handling, etc...

For the one's that like a list:
-Powerful
-Light
-Built in library
-Templates
-Error Handling
-Functions
-Classes
-Library extentions
-Operator Overloading
-Function Overloading
-Memory Management
-Low-level Native Compiled Code
-etc...

Use it, it'll rock your socks off!
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Can we please stop trying to alternately bash and praise every damn PL ever invented? NO ONE is going to win any argument made. After reading posts in this forum for several months, I have been amazed at the amount of posts that go like this:

>X is awesome because (...)
>No, X sucks. Y is way better.
>Actually, X is superior to Y...

Pedantic.
And to be fair, I am also appalled that I got involved in one of those and found myself arguing. *shudder* But I will not do it again. Arguing over programming languages is like arguing about why Spanish or Latin is better than English because you don't have to specify the subject in every sentence or can use declensions. Ridiculous. Ever hear of the term "Turing complete"? Hobnobbing over all of the details of your favorite language is futile. Which is why many of the authors of programming languages never really get into such discussions. Every language sucks. Until the computer can read your mind and do what you want in less than a nanosecond, programming languages will all have drawbacks. Picking on them because they can't do certain things is like picking on some kid just because he wears glasses.
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