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More Exceptional C++: 40 New Engineering Puzzles, Programming Problems, and Solutions Paperback – December 27, 2001

12 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 078-5342704341 ISBN-10: 020170434X Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Aimed at advanced C++ developers who want to hone their programming chops even further, Herb Sutter's More Exceptional C++ borrows the format of his earlier title, Exceptional C++, and delivers some of today's best-available thinking on the language in a handy and effective format. A compilation of the author's own experience and research on the thornier aspects of C++, this book will serve as a worthy resource for making sure you get the most out of this powerful language.

The concise text covers a range of challenging topics in C++ without attempting to be comprehensive. Each "item" is presented as a question to try and solve yourself before the author presents his solution, plus additional detail as needed. For most topics, Sutter ends by giving his advice on the best practices (and gotchas to avoid).

Early sections concentrate on using Standard Template Library (STL) container classes, like removing items effectively, and the subtle differences between container types. Standout sections on designing custom templates (using specialization techniques) and exception-safe classes will help you do more with your own classes. One entertaining problem here shows a number-guessing game (Mastermind) built as efficiently as possible using STL code (including expert-level use of generic functions to do much of the work).

Several problems on copy-on-write (COW) semantics for more efficient classes point out the issues surrounding code optimization. (The author argues against a simplistic approach to optimizing code, including an overreliance on inlining functions. Several times he points out the difficulty of getting COW code to work in multithreaded projects.)

There has been a debate in the C++ community for years about whether it's possible to design truly "exception-safe" classes. Sutter points out the difficulty with a precise analysis of the issues surrounding exceptions and C++ constructors. Material on the finer points of inheriting classes (including when to avoid and when to use multiple inheritance in C++) will extend your class design options. A good section here is the author's explication of how to simulate COM/Java style interfaces in C++, which isn't immediately obvious, even to experienced C++ developers.

Later sections delve into code maintenance issues, including advice for using macros, typedefs, and namespaces. (Advice on migrating existing C++ code into namespaces will help you combine legacy code with other libraries.) A final appendix shows off some benchmarks for optimizing strings using a variety of techniques.

Intelligent, provocative, and demanding, More Exceptional C++ shows why C++ continues to be a rich, complex, and challenging language. Armed with titles like this one, experienced C++ programmers can write better code and avoid pitfalls buried in the outer edges of their favorite language. --Richard Dragan

Topics covered: Puzzles and solutions to advanced topics in C++, using remove() and erase() for Standard Template Library (STL) containers, custom templates with inheritance and traits, using typename, containers used with pointers, the finer points of vector, set, and maps, potential problems with vector < bool >, post and prefix operators used with functions, templates overloading, explicit and partial template specialization (plus function template overloading), using STL to implement Mastermind (a number-guessing game), the finer points of inline functions, lazy optimizations (including copy-on-write--COW--and semantics for strings), iterators and references, gotchas in multithreaded environments, designing exception-safe classes, constructor failures and object lifetimes, uncaught exceptions (the pitfalls of using uncaught_exception()), unmanaged pointers (in parameter evaluation and auto_ptr); copy assignment, inheritance and exception safety issues, multiple inheritance dos and don'ts, the Siamese Twin problem, virtual functions, controlled polymorphism, memory management issues with smart pointers (auto_ptr), recursive declarations, how to simulate nested functions, preprocessor macros, hints for initialization, forward declarations, using typedef effectively, best practices for namespaces (including code maintenance and migrating existing C++ code to namespaces), and appendices on advice for multithreaded optimization.

From the Back Cover

Organized in a practical problem-and-solution format, More Exceptional C++ picks up where the widely acclaimed Exceptional C++ leaves off, providing successful strategies for solving real-world problems in C++. Drawing from years of in-the-trenches experience, Herb Sutter provides tested techniques and practical solutions for programmers designing modern software systems with C++, from small projects to enterprise applications.

Built around forty programming puzzles, More Exceptional C++ helps you understand the rules and issues critical to successful software design and development in C++. New themes included in this sequel place a strong emphasis on generic programming, memory management, and using the C++ standard library, including coverage of important techniques like traits and predicates. Also included are guidelines and considerations to remember when using standard containers and algorithms--topics rarely covered in-depth in other sources.

Readers will find solutions to such important questions as:
  • What pitfalls might you encounter when using std::map and std::set, and how can you safely avoid them?
  • What kinds of predicates are safe to use with the STL, what kinds aren't, and why?
  • What techniques are available for writing powerful generic template code that can change its own behavior based on the capabilities of the types it's given to work with?
  • When and how should you optimize your code? Why can (and do) fancy optimizations get us into trouble? And how can some of these answers change if you're writing multithread-safe code?
  • Does exception safety affect class design, or can it be retrofitted in as an afterthought?
  • How can you avoid the Siamese Twin problem when combining inheritance-based libraries from different vendors?
  • How can you safely use auto_ptr, and then use common design patterns to adapt it to avoid common pitfalls? Can you use auto_ptr as a class member? What must you know before you elect to use it that way?
  • Plus one of the most frequently recurring questions about modern C++: When and how should you use namespaces, anyway?

A must-have for the serious programmer, More Exceptional C++ provides a thorough and pragmatic understanding of the language while showing you how to write exceptional code in C++.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 1 edition (December 27, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 020170434X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201704341
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #658,444 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Herb Sutter is a recognized expert on C++ software development and regularly gives invited talks at conferences around the world. Author of more than 130 technical articles, Herb is also secretary of the ISO/ANSI C++ standards committee, contributing editor and columnist for C/C++ Users Journal, and former editor-in-chief of C++ Report. His popular "C++ Guru of the Week" series is published on the primary Internet newsgroup for the C++ language, comp.lang.c++.moderated, which he has moderated since its inception in 1995. Contact him at www.gotw.ca.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Charles Ashbacher HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 22, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book, like the earlier one by Sutter, was a reality check for me. Before I read it, I blissfully believed that I knew C++ really well. After all, I have taught it at the college and corporate level for ten years and programmed commercial code for three. I have also written and published material about the language in several journals. However, these forty exercises really opened my eyes and exercised my brain. They are excellent teaching material, showing you aspects of the language that are subtle, yet critical to know.
One topic that I experienced firsthand is when an exception is thrown out of a constructor. This happened to me many years ago, and I spent hours trying to correct the code so that it finally did something similar to what I wanted. Had I been able to read items 17 and 18 of this book, I could have cut that to about twenty minutes and kept more of my hair.
The problems are all typical of those encountered in the "unusual average" day in the life of a C++ programmer. By that I mean that they may not necessarily reflect the day to day work, but are general enough to most likely crop up on some day for everyone who writes code in C++. The general categories are:
1) Generic programming and the C++ standard library
2) Optimization and Performance
3) Exception safety issues and techniques
4) Inheritance and polymorphism
5) Memory and resource management
6) Free functions and macros
7) Miscellaneous topics
There are many things going on behind the scenes in your C++ programs that most of the time you can ignore. However, when it is a time that you can't, then Sutter is one of the people to consult. His material is always well written and useful in the real world and I recommend this book to all my corporate clients.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Christophe Addinquy on February 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
Herb sutter's first book worth it's name : it was exceptional. That's why it was a challenge to write an equally good one as a second book. Of course, Herb put a lot of it's main ideas into his first book (like the "swap guts idiom" for example), but it leaves a big room for side subjects.
Topics in this volume are well classified, maybe better than in the first volume. They adress important subjects for the C++ day to day programmer : standard library, performances, exception safety, resource management, etc... The "engineering puzzles" are in fact much less important than the "solution" described bellow. Because each of the solution is not mid game but a practicle piece of work that leads you to a better C++ quality code.
Honestly, this book is not for beginner. It's much more valuable to read a primer book (stroustrup's C++ programing language, or better the Lipman's C++ primer) and then Meyer's effective C++. At least. You also should have a couple of year of C++ practice behind your belt (also at least). It's a top level C++ book, with top level advices and a top level payback for you.
After reading this volume, I have a stong impression that next Sutter's book will stay with such level of quality. Great work, Herb, thank you !
A last word : Maybe you are surprised I've not given 5 stars to this book ? Well I reserve such notation for strongly exceptional book, like the "design patterns". 4 stars still be very good on my own scale.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Philip R. Heath TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 30, 2002
Format: Paperback
More Exceptional C++ is every bit as good as the first offering from Sutter. Like the first, this is an advanced text, and a solid working knowledge of C++ is necessary to get the most out of this book.
For those without experience with Sutter's previous book, this is divided into "Items" grouped together by broad subject area. Unless the the items make up a series such as Items 13-16, they can be read independently and in any order. This layout is helpful to the reader who doesn't have a lot of time to read a book from cover to cover. One can sit down and spend 30 minutes with an item and gain valuable insight into the specific subject matter Sutter deals with.
I enjoy the author's writing style because he tends to be more conversational than lecturing. He interjects humor - albeit it geek humor - from time to time. The presentation makes learning advanced techniques, dare I say, fun rather than dry and cumbersome.
It is also worth noting that being advanced doesn't preclude being practical. Sutter deals with everyday topics such as the STL, exception safety, and inheritance. If you are ready to make the step to advanced C++ programmer, this book will guide you on your way in a practical, enjoyable manner.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By uniq on October 24, 2002
Format: Paperback
In this book Herb Sutter continues investigating of the problems that face C++ developers. Even discussions of the problems that one is unlikely to confront reveal important aspects of the proper C++ programming.
The author often beats on a problem until it "has ceased to be ... expired and gone ... bereft of life ... rests in peace" (p. 118). In this particular book, most of the time this is a good thing, because in software development almost everything is a tradeoff, and you don't want to open the gates of hell as a side effect of plugging up a little hole.
I have enjoyed reading this book at least as much as its predecessor, "Exceptional C++". Unfortunately on occasion the author spends too much time discussing trivial implications that appear not to be in line with the complexity of other topics. Also, constant restatement of the parts of every problem statement is quite wasteful and distracting, especially considering the amount of space they occupy (sometimes 25% of the solution space!)
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