Improvements to computer language could simplify programming for users

Sarah Lelonek

Adobe, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Nokia and Intel: All technology giants, all written entirely or mostly in C++, a computer programming language developed in the early 1980s by Bjarne Stroustrup.

The computer programmer spoke to students and faculty Friday night in the Kiva about a new version of the popular C++ computer programming language hoped to be released before 2010.

Stroustrup focused his talk on the changes being made to C++.

There are three million people who program for a living, Stroustrup said. Many want improvements for people just like them, but don’t want their code broken or an increase in the size of the program.

“How can you add to something and make it simpler? Increased uniformity,” Stroustrup said.

Stroustrup put an emphasis on how he wants the new C++0x to simplify processes while not breaking any programmers’ code. He showed the audience a few examples of how the new C++ would shorten some lines of code.

There is hope that a simplified version of the program would be easier for those who are just starting out in the programming industry. Stroustrup said he hopes to include new features designed for experts as well as beginners.

“Many experts say, ‘It was hard for me to learn, so it should be hard for you,'” he said. “I think that kind of thinking is unreasonable.”

Stroustrup prefers libraries to language extensions and hopes to see a bigger library component in C++0x. Libraries are a collection of subprograms that are shared and used to develop software.

C++ doesn’t have an owner that oversees problems and marketing. Instead, C++ is mostly run buy volunteers who have other paying jobs. The International Organization for Standardization, which includes members from all over the world, holds meetings to discuss and vote on the changes to be made to C++.

“There are over 160 active members,” he said. “It’s a formal and slow process.”

Because of the long process of getting changes approved, some features Stroustrup wanted to see in C++0x will not be included, such as thread problems and improved garbage collecting.

Stroustrup said he named the new language C++0x with the hopes that he could fill the ‘x’ with a ‘9’ and have the new version available by 2009. While the chances of it being ready then were about 80 percent, at the beginning of the year but that number has changed.

Contact technology reporter Sarah Lelonek at [email protected].