Programmers typically work with multiple programming languages during their programming careers. However, we see some programmers work with a single programming language all the time. For example, we often meet Java specialists and C# specialists with decades of experience. But, learning multiple languages makes you more confident and skillful in your software development career. For example, if you master the Go language, you will understand several impressive language design concepts to improve your generic programming skills.
Learning Python is also good since we can use our Python knowledge to write any automation script productively. Learning a new programming language undoubtedly brings us unique experiences and new technical expertise. The C++ language brings us many perks compared to other popular programming languages. Learning C++ is not indeed easy — it takes time, unlike other modern languages. Therefore, nowadays, most programmers skip learning C++ and love modern languages that offer more abstract developer environments.
I will explain why learning C++ is mandatory for all programmers who strive to become programming experts.
C++ Motivates You to Study Computer Science Fundamentals
Behind every technically sound software program, we can identify several core computer science theories. For example, the Git program uses graph theory, hashing, and many fundamental computer science algorithms. For example, see the following merge sort implementation in the Git codebase:
Nowadays, every business entity typically moves toward the cloud computing ecosystem and strives to automate business processes. Therefore, most programmers nowadays do programming by solving business problems — not computer-science-related problems.
But, even though they work with business-oriented software development projects, they often have to apply computer-science theories to write better code and make their software efficient. Therefore, theoretical computer science skills are essential for every programmer.
C++ is undoubtedly a high-level language that offers a higher human-friendly abstraction than C. But, C++ motivates to use pointers and manual memory management-like technically-sound concepts as C does. Also, the C++ standard library has been designed by focusing on computer science concepts, performance, and flexibility than solely focusing on development easiness. Therefore, when you learn C++, you will unintentionally learn computer science fundamentals.
Building Lightweight, High-Performance, and Simple Solutions with C++
Most modern programming languages focus on hiding underlying technical details with a pseudocode-like grammar — without carefully considering performance, lightweightedness, and flexibility. But, C++ still produces lightweight binaries and is the best choice for writing performance-first software systems.
Modern trending programming languages like Golang compete with C++ by offering a C-like minimal syntax and automatic memory management (via garbage collection). But, Go produces large binaries, so it’s not suitable for use cases where we need to be lightweight. That’s why most programmers use Go to build high-performance cloud tools since the binary size isn’t a problem for cloud environments. Programmers still prefer C++ over Go for high-performance and lightweight software development.
Go typically statically links the standard-library implementation and increases a 1.2 megabyte-sized minimal Go binary to 1.8 megabytes when we import
fmt. C++ typically dynamically links and increases a 16.5 kilobyte-sized minimal binary to 17.3 kilobytes when we include
iostream. Go binary size increased by 50%, and C++ binary size increased by less than 5% on GNU/Linux platforms.
The above simple experiment proves that C++ is more suitable for high-performance and lightweight software development. C++ is a complex fully-loaded language, but you can choose preferred features and still write minimal code. The following story will help you to practice writing minimal code in any programming language.
Learning Other Programming Languages Faster with C++ Skills
Programmers learn various programming languages according to their preferences. Some programmers learn programming languages when they start working with enterprise-level software development projects. Meanwhile, some programmers tend to learn programming languages as a hobby. Some languages are easy to master, and some need continuous experiments to gain further experience.
C++ requires more time to gain professional working experience because of the complex language syntax (C++ has 60 keywords), versatile standard library, hardware-oriented development environment, and lesser-known best practices. C++ is a multi-paradigm and versatile programming language. In other words, you can make your own programming style and best practices for writing code with C++.
Learning C++ standard library and development patterns requires sound computer science knowledge and technical skills. Hence, when you become good at C++, learning a new language is a piece of cake.
The Best Language to Work with Operating System APIs
Every operating system offers a programmable interface for developers to work with operating system-level operations like process management, file handling, GUI rendering, and network requests handling (via sockets). All these APIs expose C/C++-based interfaces since every operating system is written with C/C++.
GNU/Linux systems offer Unix-like APIs and GTK GUI libraries as C header files. Windows provides C programmable interfaces via the well-known Win32 API functions. macOS also offers Objective-C interfaces that we can use with the Apple Clang LLVM compiler. Therefore, we can directly access any operating-system-level API with C++ since C++ is a superset of C, and Apple compilers let developers mix C++ and Objective-C. For example, see how Electron uses GTK C headers from C++ source files:
On the other hand, all other programming languages need language-specific bindings to access operating system APIs. Almost all operating-system-level frameworks are written in C++ due to this reason. Look at the following C++-based frameworks:
- React Native
Also, large software projects like Chromium, Firefox, Tensorflow, LLVM, and V8 use C++ as the main development language.
C++ Knowledge Helps You to Make Better Technical Decisions
Programmers not only write code according to specifications — they design software systems and organize project structures too. The design phase is so important in software development since it puts the foundation layer for the entire software system. We often have to make technical decisions during the design phase and also in the development phase.
C++ is a complex language — you have numerous ways to solve the same programming problem. Also, C++ is fast by design, but it lets programmers optimize code as they wish by offering full freedom to control the program execution. Therefore, you need to carefully make technical decisions to choose optimal C++ features for your requirement according to your preference.
C++ is a multi-paradigm language even though everyone knows it as an OOP-based language. Some programmers use the traditional OOP paradigm with C++. Meanwhile, some programmers use procedural and functional programming paradigms with C++. Sometimes, we often have to avoid using some C++ features to make our source code less complex. For example, the Google C++ style guide suggests not to use C++ exceptions. All these scenarios improve our technical decision-making skills.
We’ve discussed the advantages of learning C++ in your programming career via this story. There are more than twenty stable, full-featured, and popular programming languages. There is no programming language called “The best programming language” — every programming language performs well in specific areas. Therefore, it’s a wise decision to learn about five handpicked programming languages you like and call them “My best programming languages”.
If you carefully select five programming languages considering every aspect — undoubtedly, C/C++ also will be on your list. I explained my favorite programming language list in the following story.
Full Article: Shalitha Suranga @ Level Up Coding
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