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Inside CppCon: keynotes, C++ evolutions, and a lot of fun

Jeroen Van Antwerpen - December 14, 2023

Reading time: 4 min
Inside CppCon: keynotes, C++ evolutions, and a lot of fun

In September, I attended CppCon and had so much fun that I almost forgot it was a business trip. My colleague Saket Kumar and I joined over 700 software professionals at this five-day C++ conference in Aurora, Colorado. It was a great opportunity to share our experiences using this remarkable programming language with many of those taking part.

 

Safety first

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It was no surprise that C++ creator Bjarne Stroustrup began the conference with a keynote on safety, given the recent debate about the language being memory-unsafe. Stroustrup’s address echoed his response to the NSA Cybersecurity Information Sheet, insisting that programmers should write state-of-the-art C++ instead of sticking to old habits. It was a pity that this was the only talk on the subject, but there was an interesting evening panel, confirming the C++ community’s commitment to safety. 

Inside CppCon: keynotes, C++ evolutions, and a lot of fun

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The challenge of legacy code

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Inside CppCon: keynotes, C++ evolutions, and a lot of fun

While it’s self-evident we need to write state-of-the-art C++ code, every programmer working on major software solutions has to come to terms with legacy code authored by colleagues who might have left the stage many years ago. Laura Savino, from Adobe, gave a brilliant motivational speech on the subject, drawing parallels with how she dealt with some of the unfortunate decisions previous owners had made when remodeling the house she now lives in.

There are similar scenarios in the software industry, and as a programmer you need to navigate these headwinds without becoming frustrated. She shared numerous anecdotes from her professional career which resonated powerfully with the audience, evoking knowing smiles and glances all around. I later had the privilege of swapping experiences with Laura at the meet-the-presenters’ dinner.

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Insightful keynotes: innovations and challenges

The keynote speakers at the conference were highly accomplished and inspirational, tackling major talking points with intelligence and vision.

  • Herb Sutter, from Microsoft, gave an update on his experiment to create a very user-friendly Typescript for C++ designed to interact seamlessly with original code through a source-to-source compiler. It could become a game-changer for anyone involved in projects with a huge codebase. I’m looking forward to getting started with it, although we’ll all have to wait until it’s production-ready.
  • Nvidia’s Andrei Alexandrescu reported on using ChatGPT as a tool to write code. In general, he found the tool very helpful for fast prototyping but not for the things that really matter, which are identifying problems, generating ideas to solve them, and designing variations of algorithms. This latter is the playground of people with creativity, judgement, and skill.
  • Bret Brown from Bloomberg and Kitware’s Bill Hoffman, meanwhile, are taking a very important first step to resolve package management, the biggest issue in the C++ development space, opening the way for many to follow.

 

Community connections

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It was a week of learning a lot about C++, new tools, and design and, with such high-quality keynotes, it’s easy to overlook all the other good things about the conference. The vibrant atmosphere encouraged us to get talking to people we’d never met before. This resulted in such pleasant experiences that it sometimes led to missing the open-content sessions we’d planned to see.

Inside CppCon: keynotes, C++ evolutions, and a lot of fun

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Anticipating the future of C++

The presenters were exceptional, and attempting to summarize their contributions wouldn't do justice to their expertise. The conference was an opportunity to binge on a lot of talks, but see for yourself many of the sessions are available on the CppCon YouTube playlist. I’m keeping an eye out, however, for the talk by Google’s Kristen Shaker, so that I can hopefully apply it to my own clang-tidy refactoring.

My main takeaway? C++ is alive and kicking and will come up with a lot of interesting innovations in the coming years. Expect OMP to be in the front row but, next year, it’ll be down to some of my colleagues to benefit from the conference experience. I’m jealous already.

 

Eager to dive into the dynamic world of programming and be part of innovative development projects? Explore OMP’s open positions today and become a part of our vibrant software community.

Jeroen Van Antwerpen

Software Architect at OMP Belgium

Biography

Joining OMP in 2012, Jeroen has delivered value in a number of areas of responsibility. His current focus as a C++ expert is delivering qualitative functionalities in the forecasting solution and supporting a range of developer projects.

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