The minute this was announced, I knew I had to go.
Two days of "C++ today and tomorrow" with the bright lights of C++ today? Just try and keep me away! I'm so glad I was there - it was AMAZING and FANTASTIC and just generally wonderful. For me, personally, seeing so many old friends was a big part of it. The C++ team, other C++ MVPs, people I went to university with, and so on. It was also wonderful to see so many young people - including speakers, but also attendees, who were clearly in their 20s (and a few who were obviously in their teens.) After Chandler's talk I told someone "we can retire now: the future of C++ is in good hands." The speakers were not "the usual suspects" at a Microsoft event either. At a panel at the end of the second day, someone asked about C++ and the cloud and one of the answers was to indicate three speakers sitting next to each other: "Microsoft guy, Facebook guy, Google guy. Where isn't C++ in the cloud?" While that was a great cloud answer, I think it also highlights how inclusive this was - it was a C++ conference held at Microsoft, not a Microsoft conference.
Some fun quotes I happened to write down:
- “if it’s that ugly, it must be good” - Bjarne, on why some newbies imitate horrible code written long ago by their heroes
- “write C-style code, expect C-style errors” - Bjarne again
- “we know where bugs hide” – Bjarne (they hide in large tracts of complicated code)
- "dot dot dot is where the fun begins" - Andrei
- "real code is not supposed to fit on slides" - Andrei
- "this is legal" - Andrei (we needed to be reassured since it rarely looked legal)
- "if you're using new or delete, you're doing it wrong" - Herb (it's true!)
And Chandler's talk was very much a 2012 talk, with lolcat-like interjections and Simpsons references and even a how-agile-is-this update with a picture of Oscar Wilde in reference to Andrei's earlier off-the-cuff description of some template error messages (aka template barf) as being "a small novel by Oscar Wilde." The humour level was very high, much of it self-deprecating - no-one, not even the coiners of the terms, thinks RAII or SFINAE are great names, but what the heck, they're the names we use.
Even the little things here were so well done. Herb opened the conference by dedicating it to Dennis Ritchie, which I found extraordinarily touching and appropriate. He opened day 2 by celebrating the 20 year anniversary of Microsoft C7 which was C++ 1 for them, with Visual C++ appearing in the next release. There on the podium was the two foot long, 44 pound box, with multicoloured plusses all over it, in which it shipped.
And what was inside? A lot of books, and a lot of 3.5" floppies (I took this picture earlier, before the box headed to campus):
There are 5 or 6 floppies in each bag and apparently each bag had a part number of its own.
This conference was far more than a trip down memory lane, of course. It was a two-day Valentine from Microsoft to the C++ community, a demonstration of the "new growth" in modern C++ and the power and capability that is there for those who are prepared to start using the new features, and a chance for all of us to accelerate the learning we have to do. I so hope you were able to be there, or to catch the energy by watching it live and following tweets from those of us who had to share the bon mots and the fun. But if not, the on-demand videos are almost all there now. Here are the links:
Threads and Shared Variables in C++11
T. Lavavej: STL11 – Magic && Secrets
Variadic Templates are FunadicPanel:
The Importance of Being Native (Bjarne,
Andrei, Herb, Hans)
Herb Sutter: C++11, VC++11 and Beyond
Clang - Defending C++ from Murphy's Million
Alexandrescu: Static If I Had a Hammer
Stroustrup and Andrew Sutton: A Concept Design for C++Panel:
Ask Us Anything! (all
Fair warning: both of Andrei's talks, and the Concepts talk, are hard. This is cool new stuff that we are all learning about. There is no shame in pausing, rewinding, and giving something a second listen. Look, Chandler was running through pitfalls and problems that Clang catches, and showed some code with a problem I couldn't spot. A few minutes later in the Q&A, Bjarne asked him to clarify just what the problem was. Made me feel better!
Chances are you won't be able to watch any of these on fast forward, or skip any of them. So I'm asking you to invest 12 hours of your life to watch all of them. Do it! You won't regret it!
PS: They gave us shirts (it's all about the shirts for developers) with real code on the back and this on the front:
Highly appropriate. Of course, it's not a comeback for those of us who never left. But still...