untold truth about C++

Discussion in 'C++' started by Jack, Jan 4, 2005.

  1. Jack

    Jack Guest

    On the 1st of January 1998, Bjarne Stroustrup gave an interview to the
    IEEE's 'Computer' magazine. Naturally, the editors thought he would be
    giving a retrospective view of seven years of object-oriented design,
    using the language he created.
    By the end of the interview, the interviewer got more than he had
    bargained for and, subsequently, the editor decided to suppress its
    contents, 'for the good of the industry' but, as with many of these
    things, there was a leak.
    Here is a complete transcript of what was said, unedited, and
    unrehearsed, so it isn't as neat as planned interviews. You will find
    it interesting...

    Interviewer: Well, it's been a few years since you changed the world
    software design, how does it feel, looking back?

    Stroustrup: Actually, I was thinking about those days, just before
    arrived. Do you remember? Everyone was writing 'C' and, the trouble
    was, they were pretty damn good at it. Universities got pretty good at
    teaching it, too. They were turning out competent - I stress the word
    'competent' - graduates at a phenomenal
    rate. That's what caused the problem.

    Interviewer: Problem?

    Stroustrup: Yes, problem. Remember when everyone wrote Cobol?

    Interviewer: Of course, I did too

    Stroustrup: Well, in the beginning, these guys were like demi-gods.

    Their salaries were high, and they were treated like royalty.

    Interviewer: Those were the days, eh?

    Stroustrup: Right. So what happened? IBM got sick of it, and
    millions in training programmers, till they were a dime a dozen.

    Interviewer: That's why I got out. Salaries dropped within a year,
    to the
    point where being a journalist actually paid better.

    Stroustrup: Exactly. Well, the same happened with 'C' programmers.

    Interviewer: I see, but what's the point?

    Stroustrup: Well, one day, when I was sitting in my office, I
    thought of
    this little scheme, which would redress the balance a little. I thought
    'I wonder what would happen, if there were a language so complicated,
    so difficult to learn, that nobody would ever be able to swamp the
    market with programmers? Actually, I got
    some of the ideas from X10, you know, X windows. That was such a bitch
    of a graphics system, that it only just ran on those Sun 3/60 things.
    They had all the ingredients for what I wanted. A really ridiculously
    complex syntax, obscure functions, and
    pseudo-OO structure. Even now, nobody writes raw X-windows code. Motif
    is the only way to go if you want to retain your sanity.

    Interviewer: You're kidding...?

    Stroustrup: Not a bit of it. In fact, there was another problem.
    was written in 'C', which meant that any 'C' programmer could very
    easily become a systems programmer. Remember what a mainframe systems
    programmer used to earn?

    Interviewer: You bet I do, that's what I used to do.

    Stroustrup: OK, so this new language had to divorce itself from
    Unix, by
    hiding all the system calls that bound the two together so nicely. This
    would enable guys who only knew about DOS to earn a decent living too.

    Interviewer: I don't believe you said that...

    Stroustrup: Well, it's been long enough, now, and I believe most people
    have figured out for themselves that C++ is a waste of time but, I must
    say, it's taken them a lot longer than I thought it would.

    Interviewer: So how exactly did you do it?

    Stroustrup: It was only supposed to be a joke, I never thought
    would take the book seriously. Anyone with half a brain can see that
    object-oriented programming is counter-intuitive, illogical and

    Interviewer: What?

    Stroustrup: And as for 're-useable code' - when did you ever hear
    of a
    company re-using its code?

    Interviewer: Well, never, actually, but...

    Stroustrup: There you are then. Mind you, a few tried, in the early

    days. There was this Oregon company - Mentor Graphics, I think they
    were called - really caught a cold trying to rewrite everything in C++
    in about '90 or '91. I felt sorry for them really, but I thought people
    would learn from their mistakes.

    Interviewer: Obviously, they didn't?

    Stroustrup: Not in the slightest. Trouble is, most companies
    hush-up all
    their major blunders, and explaining a $30 million loss to the
    shareholders would have been difficult. Give them their due, though,
    they made it work in the end.

    Interviewer: They did? Well, there you are then, it proves O-O

    Stroustrup: Well, almost. The executable was so huge, it took five
    minutes to load, on an HP workstation, with 128MB of RAM. Then it ran
    like treacle. Actually, I thought this would be a major stumbling
    block, and I'd get found out within a week, but nobody cared. Sun and
    HP were only too glad to sell enormously
    powerful boxes, with huge resources just to run trivial programs. You
    know, when we had our first C++ compiler, at AT&T, I compiled 'Hello
    World', and couldn't believe the size of the executable. 2.1MB

    Interviewer: What? Well, compilers have come a long way, since then.

    Stroustrup: They have? Try it on the latest version of g++ - you
    get much change out of half a megabyte. Also, there are several quite
    recent examples for you, from all over the world. British Telecom had a
    major disaster on their hands but, luckily, managed to scrap the whole
    thing and start again. They were
    luckier than Australian Telecom. Now I hear that Siemens is building a
    dinosaur, and getting more and more worried as the size of the hardware
    gets bigger, to accommodate the executables. Isn't multiple inheritance
    a joy?

    Interviewer: Yes, but C++ is basically a sound language.

    Stroustrup: You really believe that, don't you? Have you ever sat
    and worked on a C++ project? Here's what happens: First, I've put in
    enough pitfalls to make sure that only the most trivial projects will
    work first time. Take operator overloading. At the end of the project,
    almost every module has it, usually,
    because guys feel they really should do it, as it was in their training
    course. The same operator then means something totally different in
    every module. Try pulling that lot together, when you have a hundred or
    so modules. And as for data hiding. God,
    I sometimes can't help laughing when I hear about the problems
    companies have making their modules talk to each other. I think the
    word 'synergistic' was specially invented to twist the knife in a
    project manager's ribs.

    Interviewer: I have to say, I'm beginning to be quite appalled at
    this. You say you did it to raise programmers' salaries? That's

    Stroustrup: Not really. Everyone has a choice. I didn't expect the
    to get so much out of hand. Anyway, I basically succeeded. C++ is dying
    off now, but programmers still get high salaries - especially those
    poor devils who have to maintain all this crap. You do realise, it's
    impossible to maintain a large C++ software
    module if you didn't actually write it?

    Interviewer: How come?

    Stroustrup: You are out of touch, aren't you? Remember the typedef?

    Interviewer: Yes, of course.

    Stroustrup: Remember how long it took to grope through the header
    only to find that 'RoofRaised' was a double precision number? Well,
    imagine how long it takes to find all the implicit typedefs in all the
    Classes in a major project.

    Interviewer: So how do you reckon you've succeeded?

    Stroustrup: Remember the length of the average-sized 'C' project?
    6 months. Not nearly long enough for a guy with a wife and kids to earn
    enough to have a decent standard of living. Take the same project,
    design it in C++ and what do you get? I'll tell you. One to two years.
    Isn't that great? All that job security,
    just through one mistake of judgement. And another thing. The
    universities haven't been teaching 'C' for such a long time, there's
    now a shortage of decent 'C' programmers. Especially those who know
    anything about Unix systems programming. How many
    guys would know what to do with 'malloc', when they've used 'new' all
    these years - and never bothered to check the return code. In fact,
    most C++ programmers throw away their return codes. Whatever happened
    to good ol' '-1'?At least you knew you had
    an error, without bogging the thing down in all that 'throw' 'catch'
    'try' stuff.

    Interviewer: But, surely, inheritance does save a lot of time?

    Stroustrup: Does it? Have you ever noticed the difference between a
    project plan, and a C++ project plan? The planning stage for a C++
    project is three times as long. Precisely to make sure that everything
    which should be inherited is, and what shouldn't isn't. Then, they
    still get it wrong.
    Whoever heard of memory leaks in a 'C' program? Now finding them is a
    major industry. Most companies give up, and send the product out,
    knowing it leaks like a sieve, simply to avoid the expense of tracking
    them all down.

    Interviewer: There are tools...

    Stroustrup: Most of which were written in C++.

    Interviewer: If we publish this, you'll probably get lynched, you do

    realise that?

    Stroustrup: I doubt it. As I said, C++ is way past its peak now,
    and no
    company in its right mind would start a C++ project without a pilot
    That should convince them that it's the road to disaster. If not, they
    deserve all they get. You know, I tried to convince Dennis Ritchie to
    rewrite Unix in C++.

    Interviewer: Oh my God. What did he say?

    Stroustrup: Well, luckily, he has a good sense of humor. I think
    both he
    and Brian figured out what I was doing, in the early days, but never
    let on.
    He said he'd help me write a C++ version of DOS, if I was interested.

    Interviewer: Were you?

    Stroustrup: Actually, I did write DOS in C++, I'll give you a demo
    we're through. I have it running on a Sparc 20 in the computer room.
    Goes like a rocket on 4 CPU's, and only takes up 70 megs of disk.

    Interviewer: What's it like on a PC?

    Stroustrup: Now you're kidding. Haven't you ever seen Windows '95?
    think of that as my biggest success. Nearly blew the game before I was
    ready, though.

    Interviewer: You know, that idea of a Unix++ has really got me
    Somewhere out there, there's a guy going to try it.

    Stroustrup: Not after they read this interview.

    Interviewer: I'm sorry, but I don't see us being able to publish any

    Stroustrup: But it's the story of the century. I only want to be
    remembered by my fellow programmers, for what I've done for them. You
    know how much a C++ guy can get these days?

    Interviewer: Last I heard, a really top guy is worth $70 - $80 an

    Stroustrup: See? And I bet he earns it. Keeping track of all the
    I put into C++ is no easy job. And, as I said before, every C++
    programmer feels bound by some mystic promise to use every damn element
    of the language on every project. Actually, that really annoys me
    sometimes, even though it serves my original
    purpose. I almost like the language after all this time.

    Interviewer: You mean you didn't before?

    Stroustrup: Hated it. It even looks clumsy, don't you agree? But
    the book royalties started to come in... well, you get the picture.

    Interviewer: Just a minute. What about references? You must admit,
    improved on 'C' pointers.

    Stroustrup: Hmm. I've always wondered about that. Originally, I
    I had. Then, one day I was discussing this with a guy who'd written C++
    from the beginning. He said he could never remember whether his
    variables were referenced or dereferenced, so he always used pointers.
    He said the little asterisk always reminded

    Interviewer: Well, at this point, I usually say 'thank you very
    much' but
    it hardly seems adequate.

    Stroustrup: Promise me you'll publish this. My conscience is
    getting the
    better of me these days.

    Interviewer: I'll let you know, but I think I know what my editor

    Stroustrup: Who'd believe it anyway? Although, can you send me a
    copy of
    that tape?

    Interviewer: I can do that.
    Jack, Jan 4, 2005
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  2. Jack

    Mike Hewson Guest

    Re: untold truth about C++[TROLL - SAVE THE BANDWIDTH]

    Jack wrote:



    No Cheers
    "This letter is longer than usual because I lack the time to make it
    shorter" - Blaise Pascal
    Mike Hewson, Jan 4, 2005
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  3. Jack

    Mike Wahler Guest

    "Jack" <> wrote in message

    A very old joke, which most regulars here have seen many times.
    And imo not even very funny.

    Mike Wahler, Jan 4, 2005
  4. Jack

    Sharad Kala Guest

    Sharad Kala, Jan 4, 2005
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