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A Language and Library Reference for C++ Programmers: O'Reilly Releases "C++ in a Nutshell"

May 22, 2003

Sebastopol, CA--Learning a language, any language, involves a process wherein you learn to rely less and less on instruction and more increasingly on the aspects of the language you've mastered. Whether you're learning French, Esperanto, Java, or C++, at some point you'll set aside the tutorial and attempt to converse on your own. A French student knows that it's not necessary to memorize every subtle facet of the language in order to speak it well, especially if there's a good dictionary available. Likewise, C++ programmers understand that they don't need to know every detail of C++ in order to write good programs. What they need instead is a reliable, comprehensive reference that they can keep nearby. C++ in a Nutshell by Ray Lischner (O'Reilly, US $39.95) is that comprehensive reference, covering everything a working professional in C++ needs to know.

To work successfully in C++, programmers need to be intimately familiar with not only the language, but also a runtime library that includes containers, iterators, algorithms, strings, exceptions, I/O, and much more. The library makes up the bulk of C++'s definition. "C++ in a Nutshell" provides a comprehensive reference to the most important, most often used aspects of C++.

"This book provides an easy way to look up specific points about the language and the library for people who use C++ regularly, especially professionals, but also students and serious hobbyists," says Lischner. "The library is so large, I often need reminders about class names, function names and parameters, and so on."

"C++ in a Nutshell" can be thought of as a "force-magnifier," enabling programmers to program more effectively by providing them with ready access to the definitions and usage for the standard library and for C++ language elements. In the book, readers will find:

  • A complete standard library reference, organized by header

  • A reference to the C++ language itself

  • A reference to the C++ preprocessor

  • Reference chapters providing detailed information about statements, expressions, language syntax rules, functions, classes, templates, and other important topics

Everything in "C++ in a Nutshell" conforms to the ISO/IEC 14882 standard, plus Technical Corrigendum 1. The language reference provides Backus-Naur Form syntax diagrams, brief information on usage, and to-the-point examples for all C++ statements and keywords. The latter half of the book is devoted to the runtime library reference, and is organized by header file. For each header, the reference describes the functions, macros, classes, and other entities declared and defined in the header. Should a programmer require a refresher on some aspect of C++, for example on declarations, template programming, or key aspects of the runtime library, the reference chapters in this book provide exactly what's needed.

"C++ is a popular language, and it will continue to be popular for many years to come," says Lischner. "At Oregon State University, they switched to Java for most of their courses, but the local companies that hire OSU graduates pushed back, saying they needed engineers with C++ experience. The university added two C++ courses to the curriculum. Java gets a lot of attention these days, and now C++ is stealing some of that. If you look into the cubicles, you'll find people using C++ for most real programming tasks."

Additional Resources:

C++ in a Nutshell
Ray Lischner
ISBN 0-596-00298-x, 791 pages, $39.95 (US), $61.95 (CAN), 28.50 (UK)
1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

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