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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Exceptional C++: 47 Engineering Puzzles, Programming Problems, and Solutions » User review

Exceptional problems, exceptional solutions

  • Jan 31, 2000
In learning computing, the most prized element is a relevant problem with a detailed, understandable solution. Many studies have indicated that the skills gap between those who program adequately and those who are exceptional is enormous. Unlike some other areas, the gurus of computing are more often than not quite willing to share their expertise with others.
This collection of problems, derived from the C++ Guru of the Week newsgroup, collectively form one of the most valuable sources of real insight into the language.
C++ is often criticized as being a language that is full of potential problems of the "gotcha" variety. A "gotcha" problem is one where a seemingly logical choice can lead to a disaster. Many of these problems can be placed in that category, but to focus on that would miss much of what they can teach you.
The most significant point of the problems is that they teach you how to program many complex tasks in a manner that is truly safe from potential errors. All of the problems are tagged with a level of difficulty, although like most people, I consider that to be of dubious benefit, as there is an enormous difference in what programmers find difficult. In my opinion, the most valuable section of the book is the ten parts dealing with the creation of exception-safe code. While some do have trouble with it, most people find it easy to understand the fundamentals of what exceptions are. However, writing code that is safe from the unexpected consequences of a thrown exception is a decidedly non-trivial problem. Especially when the new and delete operators can throw an exception. The sections that deal with making new and delete exception-safe alone justify the purchase of the book.
When asked questions as to how they managed to reach their guru status, a common response is that they simply use coded solutions written by others that are known to be correct. If that were all it took to reach the level of guru, then this book would be a significant rung on the ladder to that pinnacle.

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Charles Ashbacher ()
Ranked #76
Charlie Ashbacher is a compulsive reader and writer about many subjects. His prime areas of expertise are in mathematics and computers where he has taught every course in the mathematics and computer … more
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Aimed at the experienced C++ programmer, Herb Sutter'sExceptional C++tests the reader's knowledge of advanced C++ language features and idioms with several dozen programming puzzles and explanations. This book can definitely help raise your C++ class design skills to the next level.

Based on the author's Guru of the Week Web column, this book poses a series of challenging questions on the inner workings of C++, centering around generic programming with the Standard Template Library (STL), exception handling, memory management, and class design. Even if you think you know C++ well, most of these problems will teach you something more about the language and how to write more robust classes that are "exception safe" (meaning they don't throw any handled exceptions or leak resources). Don't think this is just "language lawyering," though. The author's explanations stress sound programming principles (favoring simplicity) and idioms (such as the Pimpl idiom for class design that promotes faster compile times and better maintainability, or using "smart" auto_ptrs with STL.) Judging from the range and depth of these examples, Sutter's command of the inner workings of C++ is impressive, and he does an excellent job of conveying this expertise without jargon or a lot of theory.

After reading this book, C++ designers will learn several "best practices" of how to write robust, efficient classes that are "exception safe." Chances are you'll gain a better understanding of memory ...

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ISBN-10: 0201615622
ISBN-13: 978-0201615623
Author: Herb Sutter
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional

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