Trip Report: CppCon 2014

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CppCon 2014 was a blast. It lived up to its goal of being an inclusive event "by the C++ community for the C++ community" -- for the world's top experts and for students, from formal talks to lightning rounds and hallway hacking.

The festival atmosphere went on around the clock all week long, starting with daily 8:00am welcome/lightning talks, through the daily keynotes with live music followed by six tracks of sessions, through to well-attended evening sessions and panels ending at 10:00pm every night with people still lingering, reluctant to leave. All of us were running on little sleep because we didn't want to miss anything, but somehow it didn't seem to matter -- we should have been exhausted, but instead people kept commenting about how we felt energized instead.

It was a week for everyone: Talks and panels featured both established experts and first-time presenters and self-published authors. Session levels ranged from cutting-edge metaprogramming, to Stroustrup's keynote of "Keep Simple Things Simple!" Lightning talks overflowed, then overflowed again. Technical material ranged from modern C++ language topics, to Mars Rover flight control software, to the current hot trend of C++ being adopted as the "write once, target anywhere" language of choice for cross-platform iOS/Android/Mac/Windows apps at Dropbox, Office, Facebook, and more; we'll be sure to hear a lot more about that in the coming months and years.

All week long, advanced developers found themselves able to talk through design questions together with peers they wouldn't have met otherwise, and come up with solutions they couldn't find at home. At the same time, scores of students and other newcomers to C++ enjoyed the broad content and relaxed environment. It's telling that the book that the on-site bookstore kept selling out of was not some esoteric template tome, but Stroustrup's 180-page overview A Tour of C++. The C++ community is growing and inclusive, with lots of advanced folks and also new people, and both CppCon and C++ itself are very much for all of them.

Even top authors and experts broke new ground they wouldn't have been able to do if not face to face. Thanks to discussions at CppCon, it looks like a number of us, including Scott Meyers and Bjarne Stroustrup, are converging on "forwarding references" as the new and better term for "universal references," and confirm the simple default parameter-passing advice for modern C++ (spoiler: same as C++98). See the final slides of my closing plenary session for details on these developments.

As we return home in the afterglow, remember that all sessions were recorded and videos will be posted online in the next month or so. Slide handouts are already mostly posted for your reading pleasure. And CppCon 2015 will be on September 20-25 next year... mark your calendars.

Huge thanks again to the 150+ speakers, planners, and volunteers without whom this wonderful "C++ festival" (as several people spontaneously called it) would not have been possible. I had guardedly high hopes for the event, but I think it exceeded all our expectations. This was the most exciting and enlightening week I've experienced in my 20 years of C++, and I'm still catching my breath. I can't wait until September 2015.

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derpyloves said on Sep 15, 2014 03:47 PM:

Great presentation Herb!

Thanks for the clarifications concerning the use of smart pointers versus non-owning */& . This topic can be a little confusing for those of us a bit less expert with C++. Your clarification helps.

Good points about type deduction and using auto. I'll explore the 'left-to-right' recommendations you suggested. A broadly consistent approach like that is probably easier to teach to beginners too.

Thanks for all the info on parameter passing and return values in modern C++. Whew! This topic can make your head spin. But you seem to have done a good job of refining out some good basic guidance to follow. Just reading the little quiz slide I understand the differences between rvalue and mumble references a lot better than before! BTW, I like the term "forwarding reference" better too (just sayin').

I look forward to seeing the videos, sorry I couldn't make it this year, hope to next year!
> ...videos will be posted online in the next month or so.
Just curious, does it really have to be "all or nothing"? As it's not uncommon practice to release certain recorded talks from conferences a bit early, could you reasonably release the 5 keynotes/plenarys slighty ahead of the rest? Thousands of us laggards would certainly appreciate that choice!

Thanks Herb for all the effort you personally put in to make CppCon 2014 both a reality, and such a resounding success. And for this talk in particular, just like most good pianists constantly perform fingering excercises (heh will your renditions be on teh videos? smile ), it's important to keep going back to the basics.

Even--I presume--for the experts.