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"Frank Solensky (by way of Mike Kamrad <[log in to unmask]>)" <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 13 Feb 1998 18:21:44 -0500
text/plain (296 lines)
FYI.  I apologize if you've seen this already...mike

> - - ------- Forwarded Message
> >Subject: Stroustrup's interview leaked...
> >On the 1st of January, 1998, Bjarne Stroustrup gave an interview to the
> >IEEE's 'Computer' magazine.
> >
> >naturally, the editors thought he would be giving a retrospective view of
> >seven years of object-oriented design, using the language he created.
> >
> >By the end of the interview, the interviewer got more than he had bargained
> >for and, subsequently, the editor decided to suppress its contents, 'for
> >good of the industry' but, as with many of these things, there was a leak.
> >
> >Here is a complete transcript of what was was said,unedited, and
> >unrehearsed, so it isn't as neat as planned interviews.
> >
> >You will find it interesting...
> >__________________________________________________________________
> >Interviewer:  Well, it's been a few years since you changed the world of
> >software design, how does it feel, looking back?
> >
> >Stroustrup:  Actually, I was thinking about those days, just before you
> >arrived. Do you remember?  Everyone was writing 'C' and, the trouble was,
> >they were pretty damn good at it. Universities got pretty good at teaching
> >it, too. They were turning out competent - I stress the word 'competent' -
> >graduates at a phenomenal rate. That's what caused the problem.
> >
> >Interviewer:  problem?
> >
> >Stroustrup:  Yes, problem. Remember when everyone wrote Cobol?
> >
> >Interviewer:  Of course, I did too
> >
> >Stroustrup:  Well, in the beginning, these guys were like demi-gods. Their
> >salaries were high, and they were treated like royalty.
> >
> >Interviewer:  Those were the days, eh?
> >
> >Stroustrup:  Right. So what happened?  IBM got sick of it, and invested
> >millions in training programmers, till they were a dime a dozen.
> >
> >Interviewer:  That's why I got out. Salaries dropped within a year, to the
> >point where being a journalist actually paid better.
> >
> >Stroustrup:  Exactly. Well, the same happened with 'C' programmers.
> >
> >Interviewer:  I see, but what's the point?
> >
> >Stroustrup:  Well, one day, when I was sitting in my office, I thought of
> >this little scheme, which would redress the balance a little. I thought 'I
> >wonder what would happen, if there were a language so complicated, so
> >difficult to learn, that nobody would ever be able to swamp the market with
> >programmers?  Actually, I got some of the ideas from X10, you know, X
> >windows. That was such a bitch of a graphics system, that it only just ran
> >on those Sun 3/60 things. They had all the ingredients for what I wanted.
> >A really ridiculously complex syntax, obscure functions, and pseudo-OO
> >structure. Even now, nobody writes raw X-windows
> >code. Motif is the only way to go if you want to retain your sanity.
> >
> >[NJW Comment: That explains everything. Most of my thesis work was in raw
> >X-windows. :)]
> >
> >Interviewer:  You're kidding...?
> >
> >Stroustrup:  Not a bit of it. In fact, there was another problem. Unix was
> >written in 'C', which meant that any 'C' programmer could very easily
> >a systems programmer. Remember what a mainframe systems programmer used to
> >earn?
> >
> >Interviewer:  You bet I do, that's what I used to do.
> >
> >Stroustrup:  OK, so this new language had to divorce itself from Unix, by
> >hiding all the system calls that bound the two together so nicely. This
> >would enable guys who only knew about DOS to earn a decent living too.
> >
> >Interviewer:  I don't believe you said that...
> >
> >Stroustrup:  Well, it's been long enough, now, and I believe most people
> >have figured out for themselves that C++ is a waste of time but, I must
> >it's taken them a lot longer than I thought it would.
> >
> >Interviewer:  So how exactly did you do it?
> >
> >Stroustrup:  It was only supposed to be a joke, I never thought people
> >take the book seriously. Anyone with half a brain can see that
> >object-oriented programming is counter-intuitive, illogical and
> >inefficient.
> >
> >Interviewer:  What?
> >
> >Stroustrup:  And as for 're-useable code' - when did you ever hear of a
> >company re-using its code?
> >
> >Interviewer:  Well, never, actually, but...
> >
> >Stroustrup:  There you are then. Mind you, a few tried, in the early days.
> >There was this Oregon company - Mentor Graphics, I think they were called -
> >really caught a cold trying to rewrite everything in C++ in about '90 or
> >'91. I felt sorry for them really, but I thought people would learn from
> >their mistakes.
> >
> >Interviewer:  Obviously, they didn't?
> >
> >Stroustrup:  Not in the slightest. Trouble is, most companies hush-up all
> >their major blunders, and explaining a $30 million loss to the shareholders
> >would have been difficult. Give them their due, though, they made it work
> >in the end.
> >
> >Interviewer:  They did?  Well, there you are then, it proves O-O works.
> >
> >Stroustrup:  Well, almost. The executable was so huge, it took five minutes
> >to load, on an HP workstation, with 128MB of RAM. Then it ran like treacle.
> >Actually, I thought this would be a major stumbling-block, and I'd get
> >out within a week, but nobody cared. Sun and HP were only too glad to sell
> >enormously powerful boxes, with huge resources just to run trivial
> >You know, when we had our first C++ compiler, at AT&T, I compiled 'Hello
> >World', and couldn't believe the size of the executable. 2.1MB
> >
> >Interviewer:  What?  Well, compilers have come a long way, since then.
> >
> >Stroustrup:  They have?  Try it on the latest version of g++ - you won't
> >much change out of half a megabyte. Also, there are several quite recent
> >examples for you, from all over the world. British Telecom had a major
> >disaster on their hands but, luckily, managed to scrap the whole thing and
> >start again. They were luckier than Australian Telecom. Now I hear that
> >Siemens is building a dinosaur, and getting more and more worried as the
> >size of the hardware gets bigger, to accommodate the executables. Isn't
> >multiple inheritance a joy?
> >
> >Interviewer:  Yes, but C++ is basically a sound language.
> >
> >Stroustrup:  You really believe that, don't you?  Have you ever sat down
> >worked on a C++ project?  Here's what happens: First, I've put in enough
> >pitfalls to make sure that only the most trivial projects will work first
> >time. Take operator overloading. At the end of the project, almost every
> >module has it, usually, because guys feel they really should do it, as it
> >was in their training course. The same operator then means something
> >totally
> >different in every module. Try pulling that lot together, when you have a
> >hundred or so modules. And as for data hiding. God, I sometimes can't help
> >laughing when I hear about the problems companies have making their modules
> >talk to each other. I think the word 'synergistic' was specially
invented to
> >twist the knife in a project manager's ribs.
> >
> >Interviewer:  I have to say, I'm beginning to be quite appalled at all
> >You say you did it to raise programmers' salaries?  That's obscene.
> >
> >Stroustrup:  Not really. Everyone has a choice. I didn't expect the
thing to
> >get so much out of hand. Anyway, I basically succeeded. C++ is dying off
> >now, but programmers still get high salaries - especially those poor devils
> >who have to maintain all this crap. You do realise, it's impossible to
> >maintain a large C++ software module if you didn't actually write it?
> >
> >Interviewer:  How come?
> >
> >Stroustrup:  You are out of touch, aren't you?  Remember the typedef?
> >
> >Interviewer:  Yes, of course.
> >
> >Stroustrup:  Remember how long it took to grope through the header files
> >only to find that 'RoofRaised' was a double precision number?  Well,
> >how long it takes to find all the implicit typedefs in all the Classes in a
> >major project.
> >
> >Interviewer:  So how do you reckon you've succeeded?
> >
> >Stroustrup:  Remember the length of the average-sized 'C' project? About 6
> >months. Not nearly long enough for a guy with a wife and kids to earn
> >to have a decent standard of living. Take the same project, design it in
> >and what do you get?  I'll tell you. One to two years. Isn't that great?
> >All that job security, just through one mistake of judgement. And another
> >thing. The universities haven't been teaching 'C' for such a long time,
> >there's now a shortage of decent 'C' programmers. Especially those who know
> >anything about Unix systems programming. How many guys would know what
to do
> >with 'malloc', when they've used 'new' all these years - and never bothered
> >to check the return code. In fact, most C++ programmers throw away their
> >return codes. Whatever happened to good ol' '-1'?  At least you knew you
> >an error, without bogging the thing down in all that 'throw' 'catch' 'try'
> >stuff.
> >
> >Interviewer:  But, surely, inheritance does save a lot of time?
> >
> >Stroustrup:  does it?  Have you ever noticed the difference between a 'C'
> >project plan, and a C++ project plan?  The planning stage for a C++ project
> >is three times as long. Precisely to make sure that everything which should
> >be inherited is, and what shouldn't isn't. Then, they still get it wrong.
> >Whoever heard of memory leaks in a 'C' program?  Now finding them is a
> >industry. Most companies give up, and send the product out, knowing it
> >like a sieve, simply to avoid the expense of tracking them all down.
> >
> >Interviewer:  There are tools...
> >
> >Stroustrup:  Most of which were written in C++.
> >
> >Interviewer:  If we publish this, you'll probably get lynched, you do
> >realise that?
> >
> >Stroustrup:  I doubt it. As I said, C++ is way past its peak now, and no
> >company in its right mind would start a C++ project without a pilot trial.
> >That should convince them that it's the road to disaster. If not, they
> >deserve all they get. You know, I tried to convince Dennis Ritchie to
> >rewrite Unix inC++.
> >
> >Interviewer:  Oh my God. What did he say?
> >
> >Stroustrup:  Well, luckily, he has a good sense of humor. I think both he
> >and Brian figured out what I was doing, in the early days, but never let
> >on.
> >He said he'd help me write a C++ version of DOS, if I was interested.
> >
> >Interviewer:  Were you?
> >
> >Stroustrup:  Actually, I did write DOS in C++, I'll give you a demo when
> >we're through. I have it running on a Sparc 20 in the computer room. Goes
> >like a rocket on 4 CPU's, and only takes up 70 megs of disk.
> >
> >Interviewer:  What's it like on a PC?
> >
> >Stroustrup:  Now you're kidding. Haven't you ever seen Windows '95? I think
> >of that as my biggest success. Nearly blew the game before I was ready,
> >though.
> >
> >Interviewer:  You know, that idea of a Unix++ has really got me thinking.
> >Somewhere out there, there's a guy going to try it.
> >
> >Stroustrup:  Not after they read this interview.
> >
> >Interviewer:  I'm sorry, but I don't see us being able to publish any of
> >this.
> >
> >Stroustrup:  But it's the story of the century. I only want to be
> >by my fellow programmers, for what I've done for them. You know how much a
> >C++ guy can get these days?
> >
> >Interviewer:  Last I heard, a really top guy is worth $70 - $80 an hour.
> >
> >Stroustrup:  See?  And I bet he earns it. Keeping track of all the
gotchas I
> >put into C++ is no easy job. And, as I said before, every C++ programmer
> >feels bound by some mystic promise to use every damn element of the
> >on every project. Actually, that really annoys me sometimes, even though it
> >serves my original purpose. I almost like the language after all this time.
> >
> >Interviewer:  You mean you didn't before?
> >
> >Stroustrup:  Hated it. It even looks clumsy, don't you agree?  But when the
> >book royalties started to come in... well, you get the picture.
> >
> >Interviewer:  Just a minute. What about references?  You must admit, you
> >improved on 'C' pointers.
> >
> >Stroustrup:  Hmm. I've always wondered about that. Originally, I thought I
> >had. Then, one day I was discussing this with a guy who'd written C++ from
> >the beginning. He said he could never remember whether his variables were
> >referenced or dereferenced, so he always used pointers. He said the little
> >asterisk always reminded him.
> >
> >Interviewer:  Well, at this point, I usually say 'thank you very much' but
> >it hardly seems adequate.
> >
> >Stroustrup:  Promise me you'll publish this. My conscience is getting the
> >better of me these days.
> >
> >Interviewer:  I'll let you know, but I think I know what my editor will
> >say.
> >
> >Stroustrup:  Who'd believe it anyway?  Although, can you send me a copy of
> >that tape?
> >
> >Interviewer:  I can do that.
> - - ------- End of Forwarded Message