Re: Learning C++

"Balog Pal" <>
Fri, 8 Jan 2010 05:24:01 +0100
"James Kanze" <>

On Jan 7, 2:15 am, "Balog Pal" <> wrote:

"James Kanze" <>

Makefiles are certainly something additional that you have to
learn. And they shouldn't be necessary for a beginner. I used
to believe that IDE's were a good thing for beginners, because
they allowed deferring the learning of makefiles and such---one
thing at a time. For the last couple of months, however, I've
had to work under an IDE, and I now realize that they represent
even more complexity than make.

Please write an example.

Well, in my old home environment, a makefile was basically:

   # Copywrite text...
   buildRoot = whereever
   sources =
   testSources =
   binary = prog
   #include $(buildRoot)/Makefiles/

If there were addtional steps, of course, it would be more
complicated, but even in cases where I had to first build a
local binary to build one of the sources, 10 or 15 lines would
suffice. And most of the above would be inserted automatically
when I opened a new file named GNUmakefile.

Now, that makes sense, but let's put it back in the original context.
A forum suggestion could go as

A) Forget the IDE's project manager, instead open http://myhome/mybuild
there I list the versions on make to install and rules file and description
where to paste your source list -- then just issue make from cmmand line and
have good life.

B) Forget the IDE and use command line with make.

The usual suggestion goes as the B) version, however out of the box make
will not have that magic rules file. And creating it in my guess is about
as easy as implement boost/type_traits.

OTOH, let's see ahead. The beginner installs that rule file and pastes the
source filenames where due, and is happy. But how is that ahead to the
alternative, where he pastes the same list in the "add files" dialog, and
press F7 or clicks on the toolbar or whatever to build?

I really miss the fundamental difference except for the "not invented here"
factor. (no pun intended)

Of course, $(buildRoot)/Makefile/ is pretty
complicated, but a beginner, working in my environment, doesn't
have to deal with it.

Just like with the IDE case. Then when he wants to change the stuff to
build a GUI application instead of a console one, or a dll, he reads the
dox for your rules to define some magic symbol -- or if there is a direct
compiler option line, the compiler dox. While in the IDE he starts wit
selecting a different project in the wizard -- or opens the settings and set
the switches on UI, or on the direct line...

Is there a fundamental difference? If so, favor to which way?

And do you mean that the excess complexity you are discovering
is something that is genuinely present in beginner's projects,
or it is tied to the project you (as a seasoned expert) were

To be honest, it's hard to say. I'll admit some frustration,
because I am dealing with a fairly complex environment, in which
many of the sources are either built automatically or are
modified by other programs, with several DLL's, etc.

Sure. That is the very situation, where we want fine control. Where
make -- and tools that allow you closer to the metal are too likely needed.
Or having familiarity, are picked up, even if the other systems also may
cover the case.

And you have a ton of existing stuff, that already builds somehow, also
possibly source control system with its own quirks, etc. Not the other
way around -- that you start with nothing, but components that are
compatible with the IDE, and add more sources as you go -- bending to the
preferred way of the chosen system.

But I was
somewhat surprized at how awkward the GUI interface was, even
for simple things that might actually be part of a beginner's

awkward is subjective. I mostly used MSVC versions 2, 4, 5, 6, (and 1, 1,52
for 16 bit), the interfaces IIRC were different for most versions, and in
the usable category -- it is painfully easy to forget selevting "all
versions" and issue a change to jsut the active (Debug) and looking back the
special options is nearly impossible.

OTOH the settings are in a text file, that you can as easily diff in version
control, and for special tasks you can edit that... what is hardly different
to dealing with a makefile with an external rules include.

With the VS2008 the interface is changed again, I made just a few projects,
I woudn't say it was any awkward for (what I think is) normal use. If it
chokes on defining a custiom translator, well, life's a bitch.

Then going back to subject -- production and learnnig do not
mix so well.

Yes. And until actually using them, I always thought that IDE's
had their place in learning process. Maybe it's just my recent
frustrations, but now I'm not so sure.

Guess frustration comes from (among other things) that you know what you
want to do, and not how to do it. And must deliver in time too.

Learning goes another path, you're shown how-do's and what the result. Then
eventually you figure out to use the learned working ways to selct for a
particular task.

Actually people experienced in a certain way are in danger here -- and tend
to skip a vital learning-from-start phase on a new installation, instead try
to force some light mapping of what they did before. Where the new
thing may have it, or even better, just needs a different approach. Hard
to fill a cup that is already full... ,-)

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