What is Modern C++?


We often speak about classical and modern C++. What does that mean? First of all: What is modern C++?. There is a simple and a not so simple answer? The simple answer is. Modern C++ stands for C++ that is based on C++11, C++14, and C++17. I guess you know it. This post and a series of further posts are about the not so simple answer.


With C++11 we had a revolution. That revolutions became with C++14 and will become with C++17 to an evolution. An overview of the timeline of C++ features makes my point clear.


If you look at the sheer amount of features we got since C++11 and the reason for their impact, you must come to the conclusion: C++ before 2011 and since 2011 are different languages. The first is called classical C++, the second modern C++. Therefore, the idiomatic way to program C++ before and after 2011 is totally different.

Now you already know it. I want to answer the question. How does this powerful feature changed the way we think about programming in C++? That is the not so simple question I want to answer.

Two resources

I'm not alone in my search. There are great resources available. Here are two of them.

C++ Best Practices

C++ Best Practices from Jason Turner is a "Collaborative Collection of C++ Best Practices". It's a highly valuable source for modern software development with C++ and general considerations of good C++ code. These general considerations include the safety, maintainability, portability, threadability, and performance of the code.

Today, I will not emphasise the general considerations of the code, I will emphasise the collection of tools he provides in his C++ Best Practices.

His C++ Best Practices includes a collection of a lot of tools for

  • source control
  • building software,
  • continuous-integration
  • compilers such as gcc, clang, and msvc
  • static code analysis 
  • runtime checkers
  • testing
  • debugging

If you are a professional software developer - I guess you are because you read the post - and have to make a decision on what tools you should use in your professional software development process you should use this great resource to get an idea of what tools are available.

Today, I want to give you an idea of what I will write about in the next posts. My main topic will be the C++ Core Guidelines.

C++ Core Guidelines

Here are the goals from the abstract: "This document is a set of guidelines for using C++ well. The aim of this document is to help people to use modern C++ effectively. By "modern C++" we mean C++11 and C++14 (and soon C++17)."

The editors are Bjarne Stroustrup and Herb Sutter.

The C++ Core Guidelines are a set of more than 100 rules. These rules are divided into major sections and supporting sections. Here are the major sections.

I want to have a closer look at the Introduction section. It deals with meta-rules such as:

Let me paraphrase the meta-rules. The target reader is even a C programmer. The aim of the rules is to help developers to adopt modern C++ (C++11, C++14, and soon C++17). These rules emphasise static type safety and resource safety. You should understand the rules because they are prescriptive. The rules have aims and non-aims. They are not intended to be minimal or orthogonal, should be read serially, are not a substitute for tutorial treatment. The rules are either a guide to port old C++ code to new one nor should they be exact in each language detail, or enforce an impoverished subset of C++, or are value-neutral or perfect. Each rule has an enforcement section because the guidelines should help people to make their code uniform and modernise them. The rules follow a uniform structure. The structure consists of the points 

  • Rule 
  • Rule Reference Number
  • Reason 
  • Examples
  • Alternatives
  • Exceptions
  • Enforcement of how the rule might be checked "mechanically"
  • See alsos
  • Note
  • Discussion 

To be honest that strongly reminds me of the (design) pattern literature. 

To make the intent of the structure clear here is a short example the rule R.22. The R stands for resource management:

R.22: Use make_shared() to make shared_ptrs


If you first make an object and then give it to a shared_ptr constructor, you (most likely) do one more allocation (and later deallocation) than if you use make_shared() because the reference counts must be allocated separately from the object.

shared_ptr<X> p1 { new X{2} }; // bad
auto p = make_shared<X>(2);    // good

The make_shared() version mentions X only once, so it is usually shorter (as well as faster) than the version with the explicit new.


(Simple) Warn if a shared_ptr is constructed from the result of new rather than make_shared.

What's next?

Before I wrap up this post, I want to say a few remarks about my motivation for writing about modern C++ and in particular about the C++ Core Guidelines. During writing about my motivation, I recognized, that I can not express my motivation in few sentences. So you know what the next post will be about.



Thanks a lot to my Patreon Supporters: Matt Braun, Roman Postanciuc, Tobias Zindl, Marko, G Prvulovic, Reinhold Dröge, Abernitzke, Frank Grimm, Sakib, Broeserl, António Pina, Sergey Agafyin, Андрей Бурмистров, Jake, GS, Lawton Shoemake, Animus24, Jozo Leko, John Breland, espkk, Louis St-Amour, Venkat Nandam, Jose Francisco, Douglas Tinkham, Kuchlong Kuchlong, Robert Blanch, Truels Wissneth, Kris Kafka, Mario Luoni, Neil Wang, Friedrich Huber, lennonli, Pramod Tikare Muralidhara, Peter Ware, Tobi Heideman, Daniel Hufschläger, Red Trip, Alexander Schwarz, Tornike Porchxidze, Alessandro Pezzato, Evangelos Denaxas, Bob Perry, Satish Vangipuram, Andi Ireland, Richard Ohnemus, Michael Dunsky, Dimitrov Tsvetomir, Leo Goodstadt, Eduardo Velasquez, John Wiederhirn, Yacob Cohen-Arazi, Florian Tischler, Robin Furness, and Michael Young.


Thanks in particular to Jon Hess, Lakshman, Christian Wittenhorst, Sherhy Pyton, Dendi Suhubdy, Sudhakar Belagurusamy, Richard Sargeant, and Rusty Fleming.



My special thanks to Embarcadero CBUIDER STUDIO FINAL ICONS 1024 Small



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+1 #1 Roland Ihasz 2017-06-19 08:49
Great short and very informative post. Nice work. Thanks
0 #2 Vadixem 2017-06-20 08:28
Good post, Guess gonna read one of these.
+1 #3 masinde70 2017-06-20 10:50
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0 #6 shelby news 2018-05-26 04:44
Great post.
-1 #7 Michael Vera 2020-04-09 12:22
Author is absolutely clueless on the use of commas.

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