How C++ Programming Language Became the Invisible Foundation For Everything, and What's Next

The origins of C++ date back 40 years, yet it remains one of the most widely used programming languages today. TechRepublic spoke to C++ creator, Bjarne Stroustrup, to find out why. An excerpt from the interview:

Today, Stroustrup is a Technical Fellow at Morgan Stanley. His work with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) for the C++ standard and on the C++ Core Guidelines are considered part of his role with the finance giant, and he remains very much involved in the development of C++. Most notably, Stroustrup forms part of the direction group, which presents and discusses recommendation about the future of the programming language. He also follows the evolution group, and takes part in discussions about new language features. When it comes to the day-to-day running of C++, however, Stroustrup is happy to take more of a backseat role. “I follow administrative activities but try to do as little as possible there. I am not a great administrator,” he admits. Before the pandemic, Stroustrup would travel a lot to teach, and to explain C++ to the world at large through his books, articles, and interviews – though much like the rest of the world, 2020 has put a temporary end to this.

“For my work, I depend critically on talking with people to learn about their problems and hear how my ideas might help them,” Stroustrup says. “In this time of the pandemic, I am deprived of much-needed feedback. Virtual talks and interviews are not the same, and the dynamic of Zoom meetings are inferior to real face-to-face meetings when it comes to discussing design and ideas.” The COVID-19 pandemic has also hindered progress with the next two iterations of the language, C++20 and C++23, though Stroustrup affirms that “almost all” of C++20 will ship in 2020. “Beyond that, there is work on Unicode, numerics, game development and low latency, tooling, AI, and much more,” he says. "We ship a feature (language and library) when it is ready, and we issue a revised standard every three years. C++14, C++17, and C++20 shipped on time. It is worth noting that the standards effort and the major implementors are very much in sync. “It is crucial that C++ remains coherent and is a stable platform for development.”