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A Reader's Opinion on Attributes

By  Oct 20, 2009

Topics: Programming, C/C++

In August I dedicated a series to the debate about C++0x attributes. I believe that it covered the subject in a balanced and detailed way, but I keep getting complaints from C++ users who don't like attributes for various reasons. Here's a recent email I received from a Polish C++ programmer. While it  doesn't represent my opinion about attributes -- I'm rather neutral about this feature and consider it a "solution waiting for a problem" -- but it suggests that attributes are still a highly controversial issue that will haunt C++ for a long time. The email is quoted here with minor edits that and as usual, with all private details removed.

"Dear Danny,

My name is A. I'm from Poland, currently living in Ireland where I study C++. I'm going to talk only about attributes here but there are many more issues I have with some of the new proposals to 'refine' C++. I was quite excited about C++0x for a quite a while but after reading more about it I'm not really sure what direction the language is taking. The New proposed syntax for attributes is just so awful and ill that I cannot describe how bad I feel about it. I know you gave few reasons why attributes were designed like that but it just doesn't talk to me at all. They break all of the conventions in one shot. First, the notion of having attributes instead of keywords. Who on earth thought that through? As for me the one and only acceptable option is to have new keywords.

With respect to 'breaking existing code', I believe that sometimes you have to tear down an old building to build a new one.

I'm really puzzled and surprised by the way the attributes proposal is proceeding."