What most C++ programmers do

“Nobody knows what most C++ programmers do.” — Bjarne Stroustrup

The quote above came up in a discussion of C++ by Scott Meyers, Andrei Alexandrescu, and Herb Sutter. They argue that C++ is used in so many diverse applications that if someone starts a sentence with “Most C++ programmers …” he probably doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Related post:

The dark matter of programmers

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10 comments on “What most C++ programmers do
  1. Derek Jones says:

    The underlying problem is that C++ is so incredibly difficult to parse that researchers who analyse large code bases work with either C or Java.

  2. Eric Hamilton says:

    How about changing “C++” to “C”, does anything change?

  3. John says:

    Eric: The speakers mentioned C along with C++ in their discussion. Both are used all over the place: embedded devices, games, operating systems, scientific computing, …

    They didn’t say this, but I imagine it would be easier, for example, to say what most VB developers do. Or PHP. If you’re writing PHP, there’s a very good chance you’re making web pages.

  4. Dr. Bubba says:


    A coworker and I were at that conference. That comment brought some chuckles. It was a good conference in a great location. Learned a lot.


  5. Ibrahim M. Ghazal says:

    I think the only accurate sentence that starts like that is “Most C++ programmers only use a subset of C++”.

  6. Ben West says:

    Lets hope most PHP programmers are writing web pages….

  7. “Most C++ programmers don’t know what most C++ programmers do.”

  8. Sixing Huang says:

    Most C++ programmers write main() function ? : )

  9. Cat Typist says:

    @Sixing Huang

    Those of us doing Windows development often write some other entry point function such as WinMain() or DllMain() instead of main(). You see how unreliable most C++ programmers are, when it comes to doing what someone thinks most of us are doing. :-)

  10. lucas says:

    Most C++ programmers know they can do it better than the programmer before them.

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