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Thursday, March 7, 2002

My CD and Current Browsers; Leor Zolman's STL Error Decryptor

Two topics:
- Status of Effective C++ CD with contemporary browsers.
- Plug for Leor Zolman's STL decryptor -- and for Leor.


The Effective C++ CD and Contemporary Web Browsers
--------------------------------------------------

When Addison-Wesley (AW) and I developed the Effective C++ CD in 1998, the
dominant browsers were Internet Explorer 3 (IE3) and Netscape 3 (NS3),
though versions 4 were on the horizon. We developed for IE4 and NS4, and
we claimed in the marketing copy that the CD was compatible with IE4+ and
NS4+. That was true through versions 5, but in versions 6 of their
browsers, both IE and NS broke backwards compatibility, and the result is
that the CD doesn't work properly with IE6 or NS6.

AW has decided not to upgrade the CD for contemporary browsers. I'm
telling you this for two reasons. First, I want to alert you to the fact
that the CD won't work with IE6 or NS6 and there are no plans to fix this,
the marketing copy on the box and at the web site notwithstanding. (AW
will fix the marketing copy, BTW. They have no interest in lying to you.
I wouldn't continue to work with them if they did.)

Second, though fixing the CD may be beyond AW's capabilities and beyond
mine (I'm a C++ guy, not an HTML/CSS/JavaScript etc. guy), it may not be
beyond yours. AW and I both encourage you to develop patches for the CD
that will allow it to be used with current browers, including IE6 and NS6,
of course, but also browsers we never supported, such as Opera. If you
develop such patches and make them publically available, AW and I will
happily publicize them (e.g., link to them from our web sites, maybe
mention them in mailings, etc.). Our only real request is that you make
*patches* available, not complete patched copies of the CD. We'd like to
see the CD usable with current browsers, but we don't want to give the CD
away. I'm hoping you can help us out.

I apologize for the CD failing to work with contemporary browsers. We did
the best we could at the time, and I still think we produced a product to
be proud of. If you or people you know could make it possible for the CD
to be used with the latest browsers, that would make me prouder still.


Leor Zolman's STL Error Message Decryptor, etc.
-----------------------------------------------

Leor Zolman checked all the code in Effective STL before the book was
published, and he makes that code available to you at
http://www.bdsoft.com/resources/estlcode.html. In a backhanded kind of
way, however, I'm sort of responsible for his much more significant
accomplishment, because attendance at an offering of my introductory STL
course (http://www.aristeia.com/eistl/index_frames.html) inspired him to
develop a set of perl scripts to make STL error messages a lot more
readable. For example, in Item 49 of ESTL I show this error message:

example.cpp(17) : error C2440: 'initializing' : cannot convert from 'class
std::_Treestd::basic_string,class
std::allocator >,struct
std::pair,class
std::allocator > const ,class std::basic_stringstd::char_traits,class std::allocator > >,struct std::mapstd::basic_string,class
std::allocator >,class
std::basic_string,class
std::allocator >,struct
std::less,class
std::allocator > >,class std::allocatorstd::basic_stringstd::char_traits,class std::allocator > > >::_Kfn,struct
std::lessstd::basic_string,class
std::allocator > >,class
std::allocatorstd::char_traits,class
std::allocator > > >::const_iterator' to 'class std::_Treestd::basic_string,class
std::allocator >,struct
std::pair,class
std::allocator > const ,class std::basic_stringstd::char_traits,class std::allocator > >,struct std::mapstd::basic_string,class
std::allocator >,class
std::basic_string,class
std::allocator >,struct
std::less,class
std::allocator > >,class std::allocatorstd::basic_stringstd::char_traits,class std::allocator > > >::_Kfn,struct
std::lessstd::basic_string,class
std::allocator > >,class
std::allocatorstd::char_traits,class
std::allocator > > >::iterator'
No constructor could take the source type, or constructor overload resolution
was
ambiguous

Here's the same compiler output run through Leor's filter:

example.cpp(17): error C2440: 'initializing': cannot convert from
'map::const_iter' to 'map::iter' No
constructor could take the source type, or constructor overload resolution
was ambiguous

Better, no? Leor's filter(s) are freely downloadable and work with lots of
compilers and libraries (e.g., VC6-7, g++, Comeau, STLport). They can be
used from the command line or as an integrated part of the MSVC IDE. I use
them all the time, and I encourage you to try them, too. You'll find them
at http://www.bdsoft.com/tools/stlfilt.html.

As long as you're at Leor's web site, check out his training courses,
including the one called "An Effective Introduction to the STL." As you
can see at http://www.aristeia.com/training_frames.html, that's my course
:-) Leor is one of the few people I trust to teach it in my place. If
you're looking to have somebody come in and teach the STL to you or your
colleagues, I really think you should give Leor a look, especially if
you're in the Boston area. (In the interest of full disclosure, I'll point
out that if Leor teaches my course, I get a rental fee for the use of my
teaching materials. At least I'm supposed to...)

Scott
--------------------------------------
Check out the *new* "THE C++ Seminar"
http://www.gotw.ca/cpp_seminar/

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