Tuesday, January 20, 2009

More Exceptional C++: 40 New Engineering Puzzles, Programming Problems, and Solu

Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional 2001 | 304 Pages | ISBN: 020170434X | PDF | 1 MB

Aimed at advanced C++ developers who want to hone their programming chops even further, Herb Sutter's More Exceptional C++ borrows the format of his earlier title, Exceptional C++, and delivers some of today's best-available thinking on the language in a handy and effective format. A compilation of the author's own experience and research on the thornier aspects of C++, this book will serve as a worthy resource for making sure you get the most out of this powerful language.

The concise text covers a range of challenging topics in C++ without attempting to be comprehensive. Each "item" is presented as a question to try and solve yourself before the author presents his solution, plus additional detail as needed. For most topics, Sutter ends by giving his advice on the best practices (and gotchas to avoid).

Early sections concentrate on using Standard Template Library (STL) container classes, like removing items effectively, and the subtle differences between container types. Standout sections on designing custom templates (using specialization techniques) and exception-safe classes will help you do more with your own classes. One entertaining problem here shows a number-guessing game (Mastermind) built as efficiently as possible using STL code (including expert-level use of generic functions to do much of the work).

Several problems on copy-on-write (COW) semantics for more efficient classes point out the issues surrounding code optimization. (The author argues against a simplistic approach to optimizing code, including an overreliance on inlining functions. Several times he points out the difficulty of getting COW code to work in multithreaded projects.)

There has been a debate in the C++ community for years about whether it's possible to design truly "exception-safe" classes. Sutter points out the difficulty with a precise analysis of the issues surrounding exceptions and C++ constructors. Material on the finer points of inheriting classes (including when to avoid and when to use multiple inheritance in C++) will extend your class design options. A good section here is the author's explication of how to simulate COM/Java style interfaces in C++, which isn't immediately obvious, even to experienced C++ developers.

Later sections delve into code maintenance issues, including advice for using macros, typedefs, and namespaces. (Advice on migrating existing C++ code into namespaces will help you combine legacy code with other libraries.) A final appendix shows off some benchmarks for optimizing strings using a variety of techniques.

Intelligent, provocative, and demanding, More Exceptional C++ shows why C++ continues to be a rich, complex, and challenging language. Armed with titles like this one, experienced C++ programmers can write better code and avoid pitfalls buried in the outer edges of their favorite language. --Richard Dragan

Topics covered: Puzzles and solutions to advanced topics in C++, using remove() and erase() for Standard Template Library (STL) containers, custom templates with inheritance and traits, using typename, containers used with pointers, the finer points of vector, set, and maps, potential problems with vector <>, post and prefix operators used with functions, templates overloading, explicit and partial template specialization (plus function template overloading), using STL to implement Mastermind (a number-guessing game), the finer points of inline functions, lazy optimizations (including copy-on-write--COW--and semantics for strings), iterators and references, gotchas in multithreaded environments, designing exception-safe classes, constructor failures and object lifetimes, uncaught exceptions (the pitfalls of using uncaught_exception()), unmanaged pointers (in parameter evaluation and auto_ptr); copy assignment, inheritance and exception safety issues, multiple inheritance dos and don'ts, the Siamese Twin problem, virtual functions, controlled polymorphism, memory management issues with smart pointers (auto_ptr), recursive declarations, how to simulate nested functions, preprocessor macros, hints for initialization, forward declarations, using typedef effectively, best practices for namespaces (including code maintenance and migrating existing C++ code to namespaces), and appendices on advice for multithreaded optimization.



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