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No BS, From BS

You certainly know what the first occurrence of “BS” in the title of this blarticle means, but the second occurrence stands for “Bjarne Stroustrup”. BS, the second one of course, is the original creator of the C++ programming language and one of my “mentors from afar” (it’s a good idea to latch on to mentors from afar because unless your extremely lucky, there’s a  paucity of mentors “a-near”).

I just finished reading “The Design And Evolution of C++” by BS. If you do a lot C++ programming, then this book is a must read. BS gives a deeply personal account of the development of the C++ language from the very first time he realized that he needed a new programming tool  in 1979, to the start of the formal standardization process in 1994. BS recounts the BS (the first one, of course) that he slogged through, and the thinking processes that he used, while deciding upon which features to include in  C++ and which ones to exclude. The technical details and chronology of development of C++ are interesting, but the book is also filled with insightful and sage advice. Here’s a sampling of passages that rang my bell:

“Language design is not just design from first principles, but an art that requires experience, experiments, and sound engineering trade-offs.”

“Many C++ design decisions have their roots in my dislike for forcing people to do things in some particular way. In history, some of the worst disasters have been caused by idealists trying to force people into ‘doing what is good for them'”.

“Had it not been for the insights of members of Bell Labs, the insulation from political nonsense, the design of C++ would have been compromised by fashions, special interest groups and its implementation bogged down in a bureaucratic quagmire.”

“You don’t get a useful language by accepting every feature that makes life better for someone.”

“Theory itself is never sufficient justification for adding or removing a feature.”

“Standardization before genuine experience has been gained is abhorrent.”

“I find it more painful to listen to complaints from users than to listen to complaints from language lawyers.”

“The C++ Programming Language (book) was written with the fierce determination not to preach any particular technique.”

“No programming language can be understood by considering principles and generalizations only; concrete examples are essential. However, looking at the details without an overall picture to fit them into is a way of getting seriously lost.”

For an ivory tower trained Ph.D., BS is pretty down to earth and empathic toward his customers/users,  no? Hopefully, you can now understand why the title of this blarticle is what it is.

No BS from BS

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