[linux-elitists] Nobody's favorite language? C++ and free software

Don Marti dmarti@zgp.org
Tue Mar 25 11:25:08 PST 2003


Is it my imagination, or is the number of useful free software
projects in C++ on the rise?  (I'm partly going by my Linux Journal
inbox here.)

For example, Xerces and Xalan at apache.org are in C++.

(Do the people at apche.org REALLY think that if you're trying to
look up the web server docs and your fingers slip and you type their
site instead, that you'll leave your server spewing 500s while you
look at porn?  Never mind.  Dumb question.)

As I was saying, C++.  It seems like this language is hard to
mention without someone coming up with one of many common criticisms.

A good example is this late 2000 Advogato thread, which covered
some key objections to C++ among free software developers:
http://www.advogato.org/article/207.html

I've tried to list a few from that thread, this list, and other
sources.

1. Everybody knows C, few people know all of C++.

2. C++ is a Very Large Language
  K&R, The C Programming Language, 2nd ed. -- 274pp.
  Stroustrup, The C++ Programming Language, 3rd Special Ed. -- 1040pp.
"It seems to me quite plausible that the complexity of the language adds
to the time and cost of a full education in C++." -- Raph Levien

3. Unstable C++ ABI in late g++ 2.9.x, early 3.x

4. Some compilers still don't support ISO standard C++, so
real-world projects end up falling back to a conservative but
ugly subset that doesn't offer compelling advantages over C.
(see, for example http://www.mozilla.org/hacking/portable-cpp.html)

5. GNU tools are slower at building C++ projects than those in C.

6. Binaries are "huge."

7. C++, because of its corporate success, is associated with non-fun
projects.

8. Not enough beautiful free C++ code to set a good example, while
there's lots of beautiful C.

My question is -- now that we have GCC 3.2.x
(http://gcc.gnu.org/gcc-3.2/ -- "A primary objective was to stabilize
the C++ ABI; we believe that the interface to the compiler and the
C++ standard library are now relatively stable.") and an increasing
collection of interesting free software using C++, is it time to
take a second look at this perhaps unfairly maligned language?

-- 
Don Marti                  Even if we don't get DMCA reform, loudly
http://zgp.org/~dmarti     demanding DMCA reform is going to get the
dmarti@zgp.org             injustice of the DMCA in front of the next
KG6INA                     jury.  Make noise.  It counts.



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