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C & C++ Code Capsules: A Guide for Practitioners

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C & C++ Code Capsules: A Guide for Practitioners


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  • Copyright 1998
  • Dimensions: 7" x 9-1/4"
  • Pages: 592
  • Edition: 1st
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-13-591785-9
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-13-591785-5

This book shares the hard-won wisdom of a highly-successful C++/C programmer - along with a large collection of ANSI-compliant programs that illustrate the true power of C++.KEY TOPICS:This book includes a wide variety of ideas, tips and techniques for programmers of all skill levels. It presents little-known facts about pointers and the preprocessor that are a must for the professional developer. It offers tips and techniques for more effective use of abstraction, templates, bit manipulation, visibility, control structures and exceptions. The book also shows how to make the most of the Standard C and Standard C++ libraries, covering containers and iterators; algorithms; text and file processing; time and date processing; and memory management.MARKET:For C++ and C professional developers, consultants, faculty and students of all skill levels.

Sample Content

Table of Contents

Foreword, Bruce Eckel.


C++: The Making of a Standard. An Interview with Bjarne Stroustrup.

I. Preliminaries.

1. A Better C.

A Tale Of Two Languages. Incremental Journey. The Type System. Function Prototypes. Type-safe Linkage. References. Type-safe I/O. Standard Streams. Formatting. Manipulators. Function Overloading and Function Templates. Operator Overloading. Inline Functions. Default Arguments. new and delete. Statement Declarations. Standard Library Features. C Compatibility. Summary.

2. Pointers.

Programming on the Edge. The Basics. Pointer Arithmetic. Pass-By-Reference Semantics. Generic Pointers. const Pointers. Pointers and One-Dimensional Arrays. Arrays as Parameters. Arrays of Strings. Pointers and Multidimensional Arrays. Higher and Deeper. Pointers to Functions. Pointers to Member Functions. Encapsulation and Incomplete Types. Summary.

3. The Preprocessor.

The #include Directive. Other Preprocessor Directives. Predefined Macros. Conditional Compilation. Preprocessing Operators. Implementing assert. Macro Magic. Character Sets, Trigraphs, and Digraphs. Phases of Translation. Summary.

4. The Standard C Library, Part I.

For the Adequate Programmer. <ctype.h>. <stdio.h>. <stdlib.h>. <string.h>.

5. The Standard C Library, Part II.

For the Polished Programmer. <assert.h>. <limits.h>. <stddef.h>. <time.h>. Appendix 5.1: Character Sets. Code Pages. Character Set Standards. ISO 10646. Unicode.

6. The Standard C Library, Part III.

For the Complete Programmer. <float.h>. <math.h>. <errno.h>. <locale.h>. <setjmp.h>. <signal.h>. <stdarg.h>. va_list's As Arguments. An Application. Conclusion. Appendix 6.1: Floating-point Number Systems.

II. Key Concepts.

7. Abstraction.

Data Abstraction. Operator Overloading. Concrete Data Types. Type Abstraction. Function Abstraction. Summary.

8. Templates.

Generic Programming. Function Templates. Class Templates. Template Parameters. Template Specialization. Summary.

9. Bit Manipulation.

Bitwise Operators. Accessing Individual Bits. Large Bitsets. Bit Strings. Wish List. The bitset Template. The vector<bool> Template Specialization. Summary.

10. Conversions and Casts.

Integral Promotion. Demotions. Arithmetic Conversions. Function Prototypes. Explicit Conversions. Function-style Casts. Const Correctness. User-Defined Conversions. Beefing up operator[]. New-Style Casts. Summary.

11. Visibility.

What's In a Name? Scope. Minimal Scoping. Class Scope. Nested Classes. Local Classes. Classic Namespaces. Namespace Scope. Lifetime. Lifetime of Temporaries. Linkage. Type-safe Linkage. "Language" Linkage. Summary.

12. Control Structures.

Structured Programming. Branching. Nonlocal Branching. Signals. Summary. References.

13. Exceptions.

Error Handling Alternatives. Stack Unwinding. Catching Exceptions. Standard Exceptions. Resource Management. Constructors and Exceptions. Memory Management. Exception Specifications. An Error-Handling Strategy. Summary.

14. Object-oriented Programming.

Inheritance. Heterogeneous Collections. Virtual Functions and Polymorphism. Abstract Base Classes. Case Study: A Framework for Object Persistence. Database Access. Mapping Objects to Relational Schema. PFX Architecture. A Code Walkthrough. Summary.

III. Leveraging the Standard Library.

15. Algorithms.

Complexity. Generic Algorithms. Function Objects. Function Taxonomy. Function Object Adapters. Algorithm Taxonomy. Summary. References.

16. Containers and Iterators.

Standard Containers. Iterators. Iterator Taxonomy. Special-Purpose Iterators. Container Adapters. Associative Containers. Applications. Non-STL Containers. Summary.

17. Text Processing.

scanf. printf. Substrings. The Standard C++ String Class. String Streams. Wide Strings. Summary.

18. File Processing.

Filters. Binary Files. Record Processing. Temporary Files. Portability. POSIX. File Descriptors. Copying Files via Descriptors. Reading Directory Entries. Redirecting Standard Error. Encapsulating Directory Operations. Summary.

19. Time and Date Processing.

Julian Day Encoding. Date Classes for Real Work. Calculating the Week of the Year. Summary. Reference.

20. Dynamic Memory Management.

Ragged Arrays. Using the Heap in Standard C. The C++ Free Store. Deep versus Shallow Copy. Handling Memory Allocation Failure. Overriding new and delete. Placement new. Managing the Heap. Avoiding Memory Management. Summary.


A. C/C++ Compatibility.
B. Standard C++ Algorithms.
C. Function Objects and Adapters.

Function Objects. Function Object Adapters.

D Annotated Bibliography.

The C Practitioner's Booklist. The C++ Practitioner's Booklist.



This book is for people who program in C and C++ for a living. It assumes that you are already familiar with the syntax and basic constructs of both languages, and it offers practical wisdom for creating effective, real-world programs. Each code capsule, or sample program, contains working code illustrating proven idioms and techniques that leverage the power of these important programming languages.

This book serves as a voice of experience for those who wish to strengthen their skills and improve their effectiveness in the workplace. Despite current fervor for the object-oriented paradigm (which this book abundantly embraces), I make no excuse for paying homage to the C foundations of C++. I have found too many developers ill-prepared to master C++ because they lack a thorough understanding of basic concepts such as pointers, scope, linkage, and static type checking. Perhaps the biggest deficiency of all is a lack of familiarity with the standard C library. It is sad indeed when developers waste time reinventing what the library functions already provide so well. The C++ novice is often too eager to abandon (i.e., gloss over) simple C in favor of the "exciting" features of C++, such as inheritance, exceptions, or overriding operator new, even when such are not warranted. I feel confident that everyone will learn something from these pages.

  • Chapters 1 and 13 through 16 are strictly C++ chapters.
  • Chapters 4 through 6 apply only to the C language.
  • All other chapters cover both the C and C++ aspects of their respective topic.
That said, this is primarily a C++ book. As it goes to press, the C++ standardization effort is in its home stretch. The second public committee draft (CD2) has completed its cycle and only minor edits remain. As a member of this committee since early 1991, I have seen its document grow from 200 to over 750 pages. We have added exceptions, templates, namespaces, runtime type identification (RTTI) and other features to the language, and a sophisticated, templatized system of interrelated algorithms, containers, and iteration constructs to the library (commonly known as the Standard Template Library, or STL). Unlike other standards efforts, this committee has concentrated as much on invention as on standardizing existing practice. The overwhelming intricacies of C++ caused one Internet surfer to post this message: "If C gives you enough rope to hang yourself, then C++ gives you enough rope to hang everyone in your neighborhood, hoist the riggings of a small sailing ship, and still have enough left over to hang yourself." I have labored to illustrate and motivate standard C++ and its library in such a way that you might use your rope more wisely.

The first chapter (Chapter 0), an excerpt from an interview I conducted with Bjarne Stroustrup, records his feelings about the state of C++ as it becomes a standard. The rest of the book is divided into three parts.

Part I: Preliminaries
After a brief tour of C++, these chapters close some of the gaps a typical C programmer might have before s/he prepares to tackle C++.

  • Chapter 2, "Pointers," is based on a well-received three-part series I ran in the C Users Journal in 1993.
  • Chapters 4 through 6 cover what every professional should know about the standard C library, which is a crucial part of standard C++.
Part II: Key Concepts
This section thoroughly motivates and illustrates the concepts and features of the C++ language.
  • Chapter 7 introduces data abstraction through classes, and Chapter 8 covers type abstraction as implemented by the C++ template mechanism. Templates are every bit as crucial to the effective use of C++ as objects are, perhaps even more so.
  • Chapter 14 not only treats inheritance and polymorphism, but also illustrates object-oriented design and reuse as it presents a framework for object persistence that works with today's relational database management systems.
  • The chapters in between give the reader depth in important fundamental concepts that too many developers tend to overlook.
Part III: Leveraging the Standard Library
Chapters 15 through 20 show how to use and appreciate the notable components of the standard C++ library, as well as elucidate some of the more sophisticated features of the standard C library that went beyond the scope of Chapters 4, 5, and 6.
  • Chapters 15 and 16 explain why the STL subset of the library is what it is, and how to use it effectively.
  • Chapter 19 contains a useful date component that can even handle partial dates, a common business data processing requirement.

In summary, this is book about what works. I've attempted to steer the reader away from the "gotchas" by illustrating "best practices" with a reasonable balance of breadth and depth. Why another C++ book in 1998? Because the language and library haven't stabilized until now. This book goes to press just one week after the standards committee met to approve the final draft of ISO C++, and I have taken care to steer clear of any dark corners that remain (all languages and environment have them). I am confident that all the material in this book will be timely for years to come.

Chuck Allison
November 1997


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