Saturday, March 22, 2008


Musing over Bartosz Milewski's Safe D article, I was a bit surprised to learn how much effort programming language designers are putting into building safe language subsets.

A safe subset aims to prevent users from committing such unspeakable atrocities like buffer overruns, and dereferencing invalid pointers.

It is also surprising that a vast majority of C++ developers (and ex C++ developers that defected to C#) consider C++ to be an unsafe language. From my few data points, these are folks that have picked the language in the mid 90's and never updated their skills (they are still running their brains on Windows 95, so to speak).

I see developers grouped in two main schools: the low level C guys (encompassing the Linux crowd) and the Java / .NET corporate code monkeys.

Not a productive bug writer myself (on a good week I turn about five) I may not be qualified to speak. It has been a long time since I overran a memory buffer. These days most of my bugs have to do with multi-threading.

From the day I have switched from C habits to the C++ style of using STL containers and smart pointers my buffer overruns have decreased to zero Kelvin.

Shared_ptr (in either its boost or TR1 incarnation) is another useful friend.

Northwest C++ Users Group hosted a very good presentation on Wednesday: Stephan T Lavavej did an impressive tour of shared_ptr, useful both to beginners and to the more seasoned developers.

As an event coordinator, I had the chance to chat with Charles Zapata of Ontela, a hot up and coming downtown Seattle startup (who generously sponsored the Wednesday night meeting).

After the talk, Bartosz, Andrei Alexandrescu, Walter Bright, and a loose knit of groupies (including yours truly) and NWCPP guests such as prominent Advanced Windows Debugging author Dan Pravat went to a local watering hole to discuss the future of the D Programming language and shoot the breeze over a pint. Cheers!

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