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Effective C++, Third Edition

"...much as in real life, friends are often more trouble than they're worth."
- Scott Meyers

The C++ type definition that declares an external function of a class as one that can access private or protected data members also defines an individual in which one confides. But are programming books less trouble than friends? I'd like to think so.

This book opened my eyes to angles of C++ that I had not considered in the past. In a summarized list, here were the parts I found most useful:

  • RAII (Resource Acquisition Is Initialization), defined in Item 13, states that it is easier to allocate resources simply by allowing their critical work to occur in the constructor/destructor rather than their functions. The example is the Mutex class, which is defined at the top of critical section functions, and that's it. It's easier than a call to it's lock() function and will clean itself up when the function completes.

  • Smart pointers, like std::auto_ptr or tr1::shared_ptr, are a great way to keep track of objects created on the heap. The decision of which of these pointers to use depends on whether the actual pointer should be copied or not on smart pointer assignment.

  • Forget exceptions, as noted in Item 29, or at least make your code exception safe. This prevents code from calling unhandled exceptions and causing the state of the program to go unknown. Exception safe code is accomplished through three guarantees: basic, strong, and nothrow.

  • Generic programming and Template MetaProgramming (TMP). This is really interesting stuff that I have seen before but had no clear references. Though lots of code can't be determined at compile-time, this still has some very interesting uses like pointer arithmetic.

  • Placement new and delete operators, and memory management strategies.

  • At this point, you might be thinking, "this guy sure must be busy with lots of work in C++ in order to be doing all this reading." In actuality, I'm hardly doing any C++ these days. I've read Effective C++ for the purpose of understanding what has been done around uses of the C++ programming language (with which I am very familiar) so that I can understand language issues that plague all OO languages.


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