What Is C++?

An overview of the computer programming language, C++.

As flawlessly as they may sometimes run, and as complex as they may seem, every computer program that you use is actually made up of thousands of lines of programming code. Even the most amazing graphics or powerful processing is read by your operating system as simple numbers and then put together on your screen in a predetermined way. Even the operating system itself is made up of this very same code.

Programs are coded in a variety of ways, using a variety of languages... early languages such as BASIC, COBOL, and Ada have evolved into more advanced languages as new technologies have become available. One of these more evolved languages is C++.

C++ was once just about the king of the computing languages... more advanced than Ada95 and able to handle anything that programmers at the time could come up with to throw at it. Of course, technology has continued to grow and is beginning to leave C++ behind; many programmers are using VisualBasic or other newer languages these days that have been designed on and for more advanced computing systems. However, most of these new languages still have C++ somewhere in their evolution, and C++ is still used and recommended as a learning tool for those who are just beginning to learn how to write computer programs.

The way that C++ works is simple... that's part of it's beauty. If you want to write a program in C++, you can do so using Microsoft NotePad or any other basic text editing program. You type in the commands using the various codes and formats of C++, and then you load that typed program into a compiler. The C++ compiler takes the program that you have typed and converts it into the computer code that your operating system will be able to read and apply.

Of course, it isn't exactly as simple as it sounds. Usually, there will be some bugs, or glitches in the program as you wrote it that will make it unable to be compiled. Before compiling a program, you need to run it through a debugger, which is a program that is designed to find any bugs in the program and let you know where they are so that you can fix them. Of course, a few bugs sometimes slip past the debugger and the compiler to be found while you're running the program itself... usually caused by two lines of code that are fine by themselves but don't interact very well together. Luckily, since C++ is a language that compiles programs from other files, you can search the original file, fix the bugs, and recompile the program so that the problems no longer occur.

Now, of course, programming with any computer language is a more complex process than what I've just described. However, there are a variety of programs, tutorials, and books available on the market and online for anyone who wishes to learn how to write programs in C++. Though slightly outdated, the language is far from dead... and is still an excellent source for learning how to program. (Besides, there are still programs being written in BASIC, one of the earliest computer languages. If you like using C++, then keep using it!) Best of luck to you!

© High Speed Ventures 2010