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Thinking in C++
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Programming in the large

Many traditional languages have built-in limitations to program size and complexity. BASIC, for example, can be great for pulling together quick solutions for certain classes of problems, but if the program gets more than a few pages long or ventures out of the normal problem domain of that language, it’s like trying to swim through an ever-more viscous fluid. C, too, has these limitations. For example, when a program gets beyond perhaps 50,000 lines of code, name collisions start to become a problem – effectively, you run out of function and variable names. Another particularly bad problem is the little holes in the C language – errors buried in a large program can be extremely difficult to find.

There’s no clear line that tells you when your language is failing you, and even if there were, you’d ignore it. You don’t say, “My BASIC program just got too big; I’ll have to rewrite it in C!” Instead, you try to shoehorn a few more lines in to add that one new feature. So the extra costs come creeping up on you.

C++ is designed to aid programming in the large, that is, to erase those creeping-complexity boundaries between a small program and a large one. You certainly don’t need to use OOP, templates, namespaces, and exception handling when you’re writing a hello-world style utility program, but those features are there when you need them. And the compiler is aggressive about ferreting out bug-producing errors for small and large programs alike.

Thinking in C++
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   Reproduced courtesy of Bruce Eckel, MindView, Inc. Design by Interspire