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Review of Scott Meyers' Effective C++ Compact Disk


May 1999/Review of Scott Meyers' Effective C++ Compact Disk

    Title: Effective C++ CD — 85 Specific Ways to Improve Your Programs and Designs
    Author: Scott Meyers
    Publisher: Addison-Wesley, 1999
    ISBN: 0201310155
    Price: $29.95

Wow! All I can say is "wow!"

Having Scott Meyers' books on my shelf gives me a secure feeling, but sometimes it takes longer than I'd like to find what I'm looking for. Wouldn't it be nice if his books were available online? Then I could save space in my luggage and strength in my arms on travel. What more could a programmer ask for?

It appears that Scott has anticipated that last question.

Not only does the Effective C++ CD give you the contents of his best selling books, Effective C++, Second Edition, and More Effective C++, nor does it just package them with search capability. It also,

    1. has hot links to related topics across both books
    2. links to relevant web sites
    3. includes related magazine articles, and
    4. gives the user control over the size of the viewing area, of diagrams, and the navigation bar.

And it does all this on a single, JavaScript-powered CD that requires no installation, just a compatible browser (either Netscape 4.0 or higher on Win32, Unix, or Mac; or Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 or higher on Win32).

The books and articles are indexed by paragraph number. You can read sequentially, go through the table of contents, look up words in a combined index (for the books only, not the articles), or search for one or more words with wildcard characters. The search engine is a Java application that retrieves a one-line summary of the paragraphs containing your search words (except for 183 trivial "stop words" such as "are" and "then"), and optionally displays them in context in a separate pane. Highlight what you're looking for, click the Show button, and you're there.

Talk about professional finishing touches! Have you ever bookmarked a page in your browser only to find that when you return it's not positioned quite where you want it to be? Each paragraph on this CD has a special bookmark icon that accurately bookmarks its position when you right click over its tool tip before storing the bookmark. And the navigation bar on the left side of the screen changes color depending on which book you're in, or when you move to the magazine article section.

The magazine articles included on the CD are:

    1. "Exception Handling: A False Sense of Security," Tom Cargill, C++ Report, November and December 1994.
    2. "Coping with Exceptions," Jack W. Reeves, C++ Report, March 1996.
    3. "Exception-safe Containers," Herb Sutter, C++ Report, September, November, and December 1997.
    4. "Counting Objects in C++," Scott Meyers, C/C++ Users Journal, April 1998.
    5. "A First Look at C++ Program Analyzers," Scott Meyers and Martin Klaus, Dr. Dobbs Journal, February 1997.

The first three remind us that exceptions in C++ met mixed reviews as the C++ community learned how to use them safely and wisely. The last two are interesting Meyers articles, and therefore by definition are worth reading.

If you haven't seen Scott's books, you either:

    1. live in the Outback, or
    2. aren't a C++ programmer

If you are a C++ programmer, get this CD. Even if you have his books, get this CD. It's easy to use, has an attractive user interface, is fast, and of course has some of the most useful information available for C++ programmers.

I have only one question. Since Scott used Java to make this CD (for obvious reasons, of course), will there be an Effective Java Programming out soon :-)? o

Chuck Allison is Consulting Editor and a columnist with CUJ. He is the owner of Fresh Sources, a company specializing in object-oriented software development, training, and mentoring. He has been a contributing member of J16, the C++ Standards Committee, since 1991, and is the author of C and C++ Code Capsules: A Guide for Practitioners, Prentice-Hall, 1998. You can email Chuck at cda@freshsources.com.


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