Saturday, August 16, 2014

Horses for courses: Stroustrup's InfoWorld interview

In a recent interview for InfoWorld, C++ creator Bjarne Stroustrup talks about why he believes C++ is still going strong in 2014. To me, two statements of his argument stand out:

  • he attributes the popularity partly to the fact that "nothing that can handle complexity runs as fast as C++";
  • he acknowledges that "C++ is designed for fairly hardcore applications" and that it can be part of a mix of different languages (he mentions the fact that he himself uses C++ along with a scripting language such as Unix shell script).

Taken together, these points are broadly fair. What I do wonder, however, is to what extent he is characterising as intrinsic language features what arguably are more compiler features than language features. And inasmuch as C++ forces you to as a programmer to get a little "nearer the metal" than a language such as Java, to some extent it does so because it is based on C rather than because of the object orientation and other features added in C++.

It's also fair to say that not all uses of C++ historically have been for "fairly hardcore" applications and that, as at least one commentator on the site has pointed out, some of the popularity of C++ is surely attributable to the fact that, once a large-scale application is written in one system, it's difficult to find the momentum to shift to a whole new language or development system.

All in all, though, the interview does go to highlight that language wars are largely futile. Languages like Java have a strong footing in their specific domain. And C++ does in its domain. What is more important is to focus on the right tool for the job.

No comments: