Velox commentary
29 Sep 2022

The reports of the death of C++ are greatly exaggerated

If you think C++ is on its last legs. Think again.

C++ is extremely scalable and provides developers with extensive control over how their applications consume resources. It is the most complete language ever created. In Stroustrup’s own words “it distinguishes itself by offering both hardware access and abstraction efficiently".

Java became successful because of the help it gave developers out of the box:

  • Platform independence or WORA (Write Once and Run Anywhere) is provided by the Java virtual machine (JVM) that all java applications run on.
  • C++ doesn’t have the library support you get from the Java community. Whatever you need to do, someone’s probably already built it and made it available in a library.
  • Java is more accessible to developers of different skill levels because you can avoid concepts like pointers, multiple inheritance, memory management, templates and platform portability.
  • Java simplifies compilation. Generally, with C++ you also need to know a lot about how compiler and linker work, and how to interpret the cryptic messages.

All that said its still just as hard to be a true rock star at C++ as it is at Java. It’s just way easier to “get by”.

What give C++ its staying power? All the convenience of Java comes at a cost and that is performance. As Brookes said there is “no such thing as a free lunch” in programming.

Obviously it depends (a lot), but broadly, Java tends to be between 50% and 500% slower than C++ program and use about 500% more memory. The more data you are processing the more these effects come into play, so in extreme cases you will get C++ being many orders of magnitude faster.

This means, that there continues to be a massive demand for C++ developers. To illustrate, here are some of today’s most significant “modern” software built in C++:

  • Operating systems like Mac OSX and Windows
  • Major computer gaming engines like Unreal
  • Heavy duty GUI’s like Photoshop and Illustrator
  • Most web browsers, like Chromium
  • Spotify, YouTube, Microsoft Office

Remarkably has C++ holding steady at around the 10% popularity for the last 35 years!

Link to the original article here.

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