Improving Wetware

Because technology is never the issue

In Praise of C and C++

Posted by Pete McBreen 23 Jul 2007 at 19:51

I wrote this article for InformIT back in 2002, and someone on Reddit discovered it this week.

“While Java and C# have been receiving all of the publicity of late, a lot of software is still being written in C and C++. Indeed, many traditional languages such as COBOL, FORTRAN, and Ada are still in widespread use. Although I harbor a certain fondness for COBOL, and have written more Java code over the past five years than is probably good for me, I’m finding more and more that I’m drawn back to C and C++.”

“I’m coming back to C and C++ in part because I prefer stable development environments, and because I’ve come to appreciate the power of object-oriented scripting languages, particularly Ruby. Ruby is evolving rapidly, but then I don’t try to write really long-lived code in a scripting language. I use scripting languages for code that I want to be able to write rapidly, to test ideas or to implement some valuable functionality quickly.”

Java is not in the news as much, but Ruby is growing in popularity thanks to Rails.

Overall I still stand by what I wrote back then,

“What this means for developers is that the future of C and C++ is secure for a long time. Other languages might have nicer development environments and be marginally more productive, but for the core business logic of mission-critical applications I still prefer C and C++. I’d choose other languages for the rapidly evolving parts of the application such as the user interface and the web front-end, but for the core of the application I have nothing but praise for C and C++.”

I wonder how many Rails apps out there have some key bit of functionality coded in C while Ruby handles the rest of the application?