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C++ for Dummies

C++ for Dummies

4.3 26
by Stephen Randy Davis, Randy S. Davis

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This friendly guide is now updated to cover the latest ANSI C++ standard. Even if you're a programming newbie, you'll be building and debugging C++ programs, creating source code, developing C++ pointers, making programming easier with the exciting new Standard Template Library, and more -- all before you know it.


This friendly guide is now updated to cover the latest ANSI C++ standard. Even if you're a programming newbie, you'll be building and debugging C++ programs, creating source code, developing C++ pointers, making programming easier with the exciting new Standard Template Library, and more -- all before you know it.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
Other languages get more ink nowadays. But C++ remains the workhorse in thousands (maybe millions) of programming shops. And it keeps getting better. One day, you will need to know it. Get ready, with C++ for Dummies, Fifth Edition.

Stephen Randy Davis assumes no prior knowledge -- of C++, C, or objects. He covers just about everything, from variables and math to memory management and stream I/O. All the book’s sample code is on CD-ROM, plus a complete C++ IDE.

Surprisingly, perhaps, this edition is nearly one-third new. You’ll find coverage of the new public domain C++ compiler, namespaces, and the latest updates to the ANSI and STL standards. The STL introduction will be invaluable to novice and experienced C++ programmers alike. Bill Camarda

Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2003 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks for Dummies, Second Edition.

Library Journal
C++ remains a strong contender among object-oriented programming languages (see Computer Media, LJ 6/1/03), and updated guides are always useful. C++ for Dummies assumes no previous programming experience, befitting the view of C++ as a foundational language. It includes source code, sample program, online help files, and the Dev-C++ compiler/editor on CD-ROM. Coverage ranges from how to enter, compile, and execute a program to using templates, while the "Part of Tens" sections at the end cover the most important optional features of Dev-C++ and ways to avoid adding bugs. A supplemental purchase to more thorough guides; for medium and larger libraries. Eschewing the basics, Art shows intermediate programmers the power of the language and how it applies to a range of programming tasks. Source code for sometimes extensive examples is available online. Extensive background and explanations-as well as an obvious enthusiasm for the language-make this a useful guide for those wanting to delve further. Recommended for larger libraries. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
Publication date:
For Dummies Series
Product dimensions:
7.42(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.11(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 7
Object-Oriented Programming

In This Chapter

  • Making nachos
  • Overview of object-oriented programming
  • Introduction to abstraction and classification
  • Why is object-oriented programming important?

Okay, you've waited long enough. What, exactly, is object-oriented programming? Object-oriented programming, or OOP as those in the know prefer to call it, relies on two principles you learned before you ever got out of Pampers: abstraction and classification. To explain, let me tell you a little story.

Abstraction and Microwave Ovens

Sometimes when my son and I are watching football, I whip up a terribly unhealthy batch of nachos. I dump some chips on a plate, throw on some beans, cheese, and lots of jalapeños, and nuke the whole mess in the microwave oven for 5 minutes.

To use my microwave, I open the door, throw the stuff in, and punch a few buttons on the front. After a few minutes, the nachos are done. (I try not to stand in front of the microwave while it's working lest my eyes start glowing in the dark.)

Now think for a minute about all the things I don't do to use my microwave:

  • I don't rewire or change anything inside the microwave to get it to work. The microwave has an interface -- the front panel with all the buttons and the little time display -- that lets me do everything I need.

  • I don't have to reprogram the software used to drive the little processor inside my microwave, even if I cooked a different dish the last time I used the microwave.

  • I don't look inside the case of my microwave.

  • Even if I were a microwave designer and knew all about the inner workings of a microwave, including its software, I would still use it to heat my nachos without thinking about all that stuff.

These are not profound observations. You can think about only so much at one time. To reduce the number of things that you must deal with, you work at a certain level of detail. In object-oriented (OO) computerese, the level of detail at which you are working is called the level of abstraction. To introduce another OO term while I have the chance, I abstract away the details of the microwave's internals.

When I'm working on nachos, I view my microwave oven as a box. (As I'm trying to knock out a snack, I can't worry about the innards of the microwave oven and still follow the Cowboys on the tube.) As long as I use the microwave only through its interface (the keypad), there should be nothing I can do to cause the microwave to enter an inconsistent state and crash or, worse, turn my nachos into a blackened, flaming mass.

Functional nachos

Suppose I were to ask my son to write an algorithm for how Dad makes nachos. After he understood what I wanted, he would probably write "open a can of beans, grate some cheese, cut the jalapeños," and so on. When it came to the part about microwaving the concoction, he would write something like "cook in the microwave for 5 minutes."

That description is straightforward and complete. But it's not the way a functional programmer would code a program to make nachos. Functional programmers live in a world devoid of objects, such as microwave ovens and other appliances. They tend to worry about flow charts with their myriad functional paths. In a functional solution to the nachos problem, the flow of control would pass through my finger to the front panel and then to the internals of the microwave. Pretty soon, flow would be wiggling around through complex logic paths about how long to turn on the microwave tube and whether to sound the "come and get it" tone.

In a world like this, it's difficult to think in terms of levels of abstraction. There are no objects, no abstractions behind which to hide inherent complexity.

Object-oriented nachos

In an object-oriented approach to making nachos, I would first identify the types of objects in the problem: chips, beans, cheese, and an oven. Then I would begin the task of modeling these objects in software, without regard to the details of how they will be used in the final program.

While I am doing this, I'm said to be working (and thinking) at the level of the basic objects. I need to think about making a useful oven, but I don't have to think about the logical process of making nachos yet. After all, the microwave designers didn't think about the specific problem of my making a snack. Rather, they set about the problem of designing and building a useful microwave.

After the objects I need have been successfully coded and tested, I can ratchet up to the next level of abstraction. I can start thinking at the nacho-making level, rather than the microwave-making level. At this point, I can pretty much translate my son's instructions directly into C++ code.

Classification and Microwave Ovens

Critical to the concept of abstraction is that of classification. If I were to ask my son, "What's a microwave?" he would probably say, "It's an oven that...." If I then asked, "What's an oven?" he might reply, "It's a kitchen appliance that...." (If I then asked "What's a kitchen appliance?" he would probably say, "Why are you asking so many stupid questions?")

The answers my son gave in my example questioning stem from his understanding of our particular microwave as an example of the type of things called microwave ovens. In addition, my son sees microwave ovens as just a special type of oven, which is in turn a special type of kitchen appliance.

In object-oriented computerese, my microwave is an instance of the class microwave. The class microwave is a subclass of the class oven, and the class oven is a subclass of the class kitchen appliances.

Humans classify. Everything about our world is ordered into taxonomies. We do this to reduce the number of things we have to remember. Take, for example, the first time you saw a Saturn automobile. The advertisement called the Saturn "revolutionary, the likes of which have never been seen." But you and I know that that just isn't so. I like the looks of the Saturn, but hey, it's a car. As such, it shares all of (or at least most of) the properties of other cars. It has a steering wheel, seats, a motor, brakes, and so on. I bet I could even drive one without help.

I don't have to clutter my limited storage with all the things that a Saturn has in common with other cars. All I have to remember is "a Saturn is a car that..." and tack on those few things that are unique to a Saturn. I can go further. Cars are a subclass of wheeled vehicles, of which there are other members, such as trucks and pickups. Maybe wheeled vehicles are a subclass of vehicles, which include boats and planes. And on and on and on.

Why Classify?

True to form, one of the important questions I ask in this book is "Why?" Why do we want to classify? It sounds like a lot of trouble. (Besides, I've been programming the functional way for so long. Why do I need to change now?)

It may seem easier to design and build a microwave oven specifically for this one problem, rather than build a separate, more generic oven object. Suppose, for example, that I want to build a microwave to cook nachos and nachos only. There would be no need to put a front panel on it, other than a START button. I always cook nachos the same amount of time. I could dispense with all that DEFROST and TEMP COOK nonsense. It would need to hold only one flat little plate. Three cubic feet of space would be wasted on nachos.

For that matter, I can dispense with the concept of "microwave oven" altogether. All I really need is the guts of the oven. Then, in the recipe, I put the instructions to make it work: "Put nachos in the box. Connect the red wire to the black wire. Notice a slight hum. Try not to stand too close if you intend to have children." Stuff like that.

But the functional approach has some problems:

  • Too complex. I don't want the details of oven building mixed into the details of nacho building. If I can't define the objects and pull them out of the morass of details to deal with separately, I must deal with all the complexities of the problem at the same time.

  • Not flexible. Someday I may need to replace the microwave oven with some other type of oven. I should be able to do so as long as its interface is the same. Without being clearly delineated and developed separately, it becomes impossible to remove an object type cleanly and replace it with another.

  • Not reusable. Ovens are used to make lots of different dishes. I don't want to create a new oven every time I encounter a new recipe. Having solved a problem once, it would be nice to be able to reuse the solution in future programs.

Meet the Author

Stephen Randy Davis is the best-selling author of numerous books and articles including "C++ for Dummies", "C++ Weekend Crash Course", "C# for Dummies" and "C# Weekend Crash Course".  Mr. Davis has been programming for over 30 years. He currently works for L-3 Communications in the area of Homeland Defense.

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C++ For Dummies 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
C++ for Dummies is a needed volume. The impact of the 2009 Standard is covered in the book and is the prime reason I purchased the book. The standard offers some subtle changes. Various compilers purporting to provide 2009 Standard support do not supply enough information. This book does provide the information and ways to verify the Standard support is present. The rest of the book is C++ (not Candand as the request for review suggests) through and through with the author's insight into classes, inheritance and streaming I/O. I have not as yet tried all the examples on the CD but with the book and the compiler to use, I should have no problems. It has been a long time since the 5th edition came out and this book is a needed update. Hopefully the author will update his website to alert others to the presence of this book (the 6th edition). For the money, this book is a great value.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I give it a C++
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I didn't buy this book, but I did find a free pdf version of this entire book online. This is an excellent book for the beginners who want to go into programming.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SCSI More than 1 year ago
This book does not give many examples and does a poor job showing getters and setters. If I could I would return the ebook and purchased a Deitel c++ book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its good but its sppose to have a CD that come whith it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Claude7264 More than 1 year ago
I'm in my repeat attempt at passing a class that teaches pseudo code and as a hidden benefit, we have to learn to translate it to C++. The text book doesn't teach C++, it teaches the aforementioned. This book came in so handy when I had to learn how to declare variables, how to start a program, how to assign values and so on. Yes, I'm at the basics. Never mind the title, the book is good! C
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cbsarver More than 1 year ago
Both of my children enjoy this book and refer back to it when needed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've seen some bad reviews of this book, people saying that it's not a good starter, it's complex, it's only good for reference, etc, but I can't say I agree with these. I used this book to learn C++ as my first language, and I still say this is the best I've ever read. It's by no means an easy read, but it's definitely worth it. Since then, I've learned a few other languages (VB, VBA, Java, and Javascript) and the information and logic in this book has served me well through all of it. If you want to start programming and you're looking for a place to start, I can't think of anywhere but this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I wouldn't recommend reading this book if you've never programmed before or you are searching for a primary readng book for learning C++. It's a good reference for C++ programmers but it is probably to hard for a beginner of programming to start with. Recommendeded ONLY if you need a reference. If you are new to programming, look up 'beginning programming' in the 'For dummies' series and Visual Basic 6 in the for dummies series as well, those are better starter books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book covers the material it claims but there are multiple errors in the programs written in the book. This lack of attention to detail is found in the often confusing and imprecisely written explanations. I would recommend this book as a casual reference or supplimentary text but not as a primary source of studying C++.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Touted as a C++ book for experienced C programmers, this book gives a good beginning on OO design and concepts. However, if you already have a general idea of what that is, save yourself the money. This is NOT a reference book. It may be good for a beginning C programmer to transition to C++ with, but intermediate or advanced programmers of any language would be better off skimming this in the store or buying another book on OO methodology, and getting a C++ reference.