Past readers will find that the new edition has changed a great deal and grown considerably to encompass new language features, particularly run-time type identification, namespaces, and the standard library. At the same time, readers will recognize the lucid style and sensible advice that made previous editions so readable and enjoyable. Probably the biggest change is a substantial new section, well over 200 pages in length, covering the contents and design of the C++ standard library, the most important new feature of the C++ specification. The author has also added a substantial number of new exercises while keeping many from previous editions that have retained their value.
While The C++ Programming Language is not a C++ tutorial, strictly speaking, anyone learning the language, especially those coming from C, will greatly benefit from the clear presentation of all its elements. It is impossible to overstate the importance of this book for anyone who is serious about using C++.
Bjarne Stroustrup's The C++ Programming Language, Third Edition (Addison-Wesley, 1997) has been available for several months. This work, by the creator of C++, is the definitive treatment of the subject and has been since its first edition in 1987. I must confess that I did not care for the first edition. I had expected a tutorial approach as elegant as the classic K&R white book. But then, K&R was about C, a programming language that supported a familiar programming model. The C++ programming model was new to most of us ten years ago, and Stroustrup's first edition was daunting, to say the least. Looking at it now, I find it far less so and much easier to read.
Comparing the first and third editions of The C++ Programming Language provides insight into how the C++ language has grown and changed in the past decade. The third edition has almost three times the number of pages and a slightly different organization. Whereas the first edition included a 67-page language reference manual at the end, the third edition includes only a language grammar section to represent formal language definition. This is appropriate. The ANSI/ISO Standard document, which is now the formal language and library definition, is itself about 750 pages long. Stroustrup plans to publish The Annotated C++ Language Standard (coauthored by Andrew Koenig, the ANSI C++ committee's Project Editor) sometime this year.
The third edition takes a tutorial approach with many of Stroustrup's personal programming philosophies. The author's explanations of how he uses language features provide examples for learning the behavior of those features. He also explains code idioms that some programmers routinely use but that he finds inappropriate.
As much as possible, the third edition reflects Standard C++. When small language features are found to be missing, particularly new ones, Stroustrup pledges to add them to a future printing...
This book is an essential addition to a C++ programmer's library. It is not for dummies, and it wouldn't be my first choice for an entry-level, self-help tutorial on C++ for beginning programmers. It is, however, an excellent textbook for programmers who are self-motivated and students who study under the watchful care of a skilled instructor. As an experienced C++ programmer, I find the book useful as a reference to language usage and behavior. The author invented the language and then stayed close to the standardization and innovation process for the duration, always maintaining a careful vigilance over the evolution of his brainchild. Consequently, this book serves, for those who do not care to pore over the ANSI/ISO document (or the promised annotated version), as the authority on the Standard C++ language, how it works, and how you should use it. -- Al Stevens, Dr. Dobb's Journal -- Dr. Dobb's Journal