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VC++ Novice: Is Native C++ a Dead Language?

This week, James Waletzky posted a valuable observation about the ongoing usability of C++: Motley says "Native C++ code development is obsolete."  I recommend the entire post, the comments, and all of the other Progressive Development posts (with my cataloging here for an overview).

Here, I think is the key take-away and the main reason I am so keen to support VC++ novices:

Maven: ... I would argue that you are a better developer now because you had a C++ background. You understand what a pointer is don't you?

Motley: Don't insult me.

Maven: Do you ignore the concept of a pointer in managed code?

Motley: Absolutely not. There are times to pass objects by reference. There are times when using COM Interop that I have to worry about AddRef and Release. There are times when I do server-side development that I have to explore heap fragmentation issues (and in rare circumstances heap corruptions). Understanding a pointer is a necessity.

It's not just about pointers but storage structures, data representations, efficient economical use of resources, and encoding abstraction-manifestation techniques generally.  It's also about having the choice of a tool that is fit for the job. (and These days, one can mix tools and interoperate with libraries built from between the different program codes, when it is worth the effort and maintenance complication.  Learning to confine such complexity is part of the lesson.

It also comes down to what you want to become proficient at and how quickly, balanced by the importance of understanding the fundamentals deep enough to get out of trouble and also to avoid trouble in the first place.

For those who are concerned about Microsoft's continuing support for C++ development, the new version of MFC (the Microsoft Foundation Classes) and additional standard-library functions slated for the next version of the C++ standard have been released in a VC++ 2008 Feature PackThe feature pack is not available for VC++ 2008 Express Edition, although there is expected to be some future availability (although that might only be the non-MFC additions as part of VS 2008 SP1 when available).  Stay tuned.

[Update 2008-04-12T15:38Z: There was a phrase in one paragraph that nagged at me so I dove in and, in removing the nag, hacked up the paragraph fairly badly.  I like the new one much better though.  This is not unlike having a bit of code that just doesn't sit right, and sometimes it is the narrative in the comments that is the problem, some times it is the code itself.]

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