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Offlinehusmmoor
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C++ books question (newbie alert)
    #15875800 - 02/28/12 01:51 PM (8 years, 8 months ago)

Sorry this is probably stupid but I wasn't able to find an answer on google for the first question here..

1.
I want to learn C++ (just for fun). Can I get a cheap used book from say 10-15 years ago and use, or should I get a new one that reflects any recent ANSI revisions (or what it's called these days)? How much does it matter for learning the basics?
2.
Many years ago I did a lot of programming in BASIC and assembly when I was a kid (Commodore C64 and amiga) so I'm not a complete newbie to programming. But I never programmed in C or C++ before, and also I never studied any formal algorithm/data structures stuff. I guess I should start with a total beginner's guide based on this. Any book recommendations?

Thanks!


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Invisiblejboredone
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Re: C++ books question (newbie alert) [Re: husmmoor]
    #15875971 - 02/28/12 02:38 PM (8 years, 8 months ago)



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Invisiblepsychotropicwhale
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Re: C++ books question (newbie alert) [Re: jboredone]
    #15875984 - 02/28/12 02:42 PM (8 years, 8 months ago)



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Offlineacim2
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Re: C++ books question (newbie alert) [Re: husmmoor]
    #15876000 - 02/28/12 02:49 PM (8 years, 8 months ago)

Maybe: Stroustrup: "Programming: Principles and Practice using C++"
Check this out: http://www2.research.att.com/~bs/programming.html
There's a preview of a couple chapters.

I've never actually seen this book, but have used his "The C++ Programming Language" as reference before.

Stroustrup is the guy who invented C++, and the book is designed for beginners to C++.  So, I bet it would be really good.  (Much better than those fat computer books that are filled with code and examples but not much fundamental information.)

To me, the key to C++ and other object oriented languages is inheritance and the virtual function table.  If you can get that concept down, the rest will start to fit into place. The epiphany will come when you start to see what the compiler does to your code to make it all work.


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Offlinehusmmoor
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Re: C++ books question (newbie alert) [Re: acim2]
    #15876167 - 02/28/12 03:29 PM (8 years, 8 months ago)

Thanks for the recommendations all!

I think I will get the Stroustrup book.

But with regards to question #1, I take it that in general the date on books doesn't matter too much for c++ ?


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OfflineAnnomM
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Re: C++ books question (newbie alert) [Re: husmmoor]
    #15876608 - 02/28/12 05:25 PM (8 years, 8 months ago)

I don't like to learn a language from a book. I did the C++ Tutorial and then just started to program stuff in C++. Searching for information when I needed it and making lots of mistakes. Biggest problem will likely be to understand the concept of object oriented programming. It generally takes quite some time to get it and this is where a book may really help, although I still prefer code examples.

A 10 year old book for beginners is fine. You don't need the newest language features.


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Offlinehusmmoor
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Re: C++ books question (newbie alert) [Re: Annom]
    #15876745 - 02/28/12 05:54 PM (8 years, 8 months ago)

Thanks, Annom!
I guess I like to get a bit booky before starting though I realize real understanding will only come from practice.

I wanted to know about the older textbooks because you can get them almost for free since students are usually always forced to use the newest editions for their courses.


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InvisibleDeimos
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Re: C++ books question (newbie alert) [Re: husmmoor]
    #15878299 - 02/28/12 10:50 PM (8 years, 8 months ago)

Quote:

husmmoor said:
I wanted to know about the older textbooks because you can get them almost for free since students are usually always forced to use the newest editions for their courses.




Student here, and you're absolutely right. I had to spend about $150 last year for the latest edition (seventh at the time) of "Starting Out with C++: From Control Structures Through Objects". Price not withstanding, It's a great book to start with, and not nearly as complicated to understand as the name would suggest. It basically holds your hand and takes you from hello world onward.

I'd imagine you could get an older edition for much cheaper, so that might be worth a shot.


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OfflineSeussA
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Re: C++ books question (newbie alert) [Re: husmmoor]
    #15879685 - 02/29/12 05:49 AM (8 years, 8 months ago)

> I'm not a complete newbie to programming. But I never programmed in C or C++ before

The C++ language is very difficult to master.  There are a ton of nuances that, if ignored, allow a program to work correctly 99% of the time and fail, seemingly randomly, every now and then.  Beyond that, C++ will require you to learn object oriented programming (something you haven't seen before in BASIC or assembly).  Finally, you will have to deal with memory management including pointers and references.

I would recommend learning C rather than C++.  This will simplify your life greatly.  You can drop all of the difficult nuances and the object oriented programming.  You will still need to learn the language grammar and the memory management techniques.  Once you feel comfortable in C, then move to C++.  The grammar and memory management for C++ are extensions onto C, thus your previous learning isn't wasted.  You will be adding object oriented programming, and learning the nuances that can bite you (things like copy constructors, virtual methods, etc).

Another route would be learning Java first.  It has a grammar almost identical to C/C++, but is a very concise language without the gotchas found in C++.  It also takes care of the memory management for you.  Once you get comfortable with Java, it should be fairly easy to transition to C++.

You might also consider learning something like Python, a very popular language that is starting to become more mainstream.  I've not done a lot in Python, but I am impressed with it.

Be careful of books by Stroustrup.  He tends to be pretty "heady"... a lot of his works make great references, but aren't suited to learning.  (I haven't looked at the book recommended above, so I'm not speaking directly towards it...)

I would find a basic introduction to algorithms in C++ (or whatever language) textbook.  The book should start out with something simple, like stacks and work from there... lists, queues, heaps, trees (prefix, infix, postfix)... sorts (bubble, quick, merge, heap, radix)... graphs (not charts like in math class) and dags, etc... Regardless, learn the language as you are learning the algorithms.


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Offlinehusmmoor
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Re: C++ books question (newbie alert) [Re: Seuss]
    #15880555 - 02/29/12 12:05 PM (8 years, 8 months ago)

Thanks for the recommendations, Deimos and Seuss!
A friend of mine also urged me to start with Java, and I see the reasons for it, but I am going to start with C++ for a month or so, and if I feel like it's too big of a mouthful then I will try Java instead.

Thanks again everyone!


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InvisibleMafeki
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Re: C++ books question (newbie alert) [Re: husmmoor]
    #15880812 - 02/29/12 01:14 PM (8 years, 8 months ago)

http://www.cprogramming.com/books.html

I suggest going through this series of book I didn't complete it because I realize that programming wasn't for me but I can vouch that instead of going with the first book on that list go with C++ without fear. You could probably pirate all those books if you wanted.


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Re: C++ books question (newbie alert) [Re: Mafeki]
    #15880934 - 02/29/12 01:55 PM (8 years, 8 months ago)

73 C++ tutorial videos, all linked to youtube.

http://thenewboston.org/list.php?cat=16


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OfflineAnnomM
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Re: C++ books question (newbie alert) [Re: husmmoor]
    #15881007 - 02/29/12 02:11 PM (8 years, 8 months ago)

I have to agree with Seuss on the Java and/or Python. Those are easier languages to learn and are similar to C++. You can learn object oriented programming without having to care about all the details of C++. Once you have the basic concepts, the switch to C++ is much easier and very similar and you can then care about the C++ specific quirks and enjoy its power. I would personally advice to start with Java, but to each his own.


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Offlinehusmmoor
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Re: C++ books question (newbie alert) [Re: Annom]
    #15881348 - 02/29/12 03:48 PM (8 years, 8 months ago)

OK.. I guess there is no need to be stubborn, since I don't have any investments sunk in C++ anyway. So Java it is, to begin with at least. :-)

But that means I just have to bother you with my #1 question again, for Java:

Does the book date not really matter for Java, like with C++ ? Or is it more important with Java to get a more recent book?


Edited by husmmoor (02/29/12 03:49 PM)


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OfflineAnnomM
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Re: C++ books question (newbie alert) [Re: husmmoor]
    #15881459 - 02/29/12 04:25 PM (8 years, 8 months ago)

Before you switch to Java. Do you have anything in mind that you want to create, or use the language for? What kind of things would you enjoy programming?

It is more important with Java to get a recent book. 10 years is too old.


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Offlinehusmmoor
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Re: C++ books question (newbie alert) [Re: Annom]
    #15881744 - 02/29/12 05:33 PM (8 years, 8 months ago)

Thanks, Annom. I looked at Java books just now and also noticed that many of them stress what Java versions they are compatible with on their front covers, unlike most C++ books.

When I programmed on Amiga/C64 my focus was games and graphics "demos". I think because those were the measures of coolness for me at the time, to be able to get some simple object to rotate or some other cool effect..  Not that I ever got very good at it but I loved trying. I recently had a flashback to these years, about how much I used to love programming, trying to figure out how to manipulate the data to be able to perform this or that action. And since I have time for it I thought I might as well give it a try. I guess I might start out with some graphics stuff, for which I believe both Java and C++ would be ok. And C would as well.. But again, it's just for my own entertainment.


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Re: C++ books question (newbie alert) [Re: husmmoor]
    #15881759 - 02/29/12 05:38 PM (8 years, 8 months ago)

http://www.cplusplus.com/forum/beginner/ is a good forum  whereI have been using to help me do my C++ homework.


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OfflineSeussA
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Re: C++ books question (newbie alert) [Re: husmmoor]
    #15881827 - 02/29/12 05:57 PM (8 years, 8 months ago)

> I looked at Java books just now and also noticed that many of them stress what Java versions they are compatible with

Java is a young language and has changed a bit over the years.  The core is pretty much the same, but the "foundation classes" have seen a lot of variability from version to version.  You really want to focus on the core of the language as a first step... learn the basics of object oriented programming and learn the Java grammar.  Both of those will translate directly to C++.  Don't get too involved with the foundation classes... stuff like collections, reflection, ADTs, etc. 

A decade ago you would have found the same problems with C++... the core of the language was pretty firm, but the standard library was still being hashed out and changed a bit over time.  Even today, there are proposals for changes (adding closure via "blocks"), etc, but nothing you need to be too worried about.

Another route that I didn't mention before, but if you are in the considering mode... Objective-C, which happens to be my current favorite language.  Objective-C is an object oriented extension to C.  It has been popularized by Apple and is now the primary language they use for almost all of their user level programs.  I like it because it combines the object oriented functionality of smalltalk to C, as an extension rather than a complete rework of the language.  You can link C, C++, and Obj-C code together, though it takes a bit of demangling to get C++ and Obj-C to play nice.


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Offlinehusmmoor
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Re: C++ books question (newbie alert) [Re: Seuss]
    #15882256 - 02/29/12 07:33 PM (8 years, 8 months ago)

Thanks Cokane, and for your detailed answer, Seuss! :thumbup:
I will read up on Objective C before I make up my mind.


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InvisibleDeimos
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Re: C++ books question (newbie alert) [Re: husmmoor]
    #15883457 - 03/01/12 12:00 AM (8 years, 8 months ago)

Speaking as someone who once went through the "I want to learn to program, but in what language?" stage, it might be helpful to learn to write a simple program in a few different languages. It might help give you a better (albeit limited) understanding of the major differences between languages, which might help make up your mind.

For example, I've written hello world in about 10 different languages before I decided python was best for what I would be using it for at that particular time. Which language to learn for a specific task/goal/project often comes down to the old maxim "the best tool for the job", so it's helpful to have a working knowledge of multiple languages before committing yourself to one fully.

That having been said, the hardest language to learn is your first. After you gain a better understanding of the abstract nature of programming, learning a second or third language basically amounts to differences in syntax and implementation, in effect translation. For this reason I would recommend starting with something that might seem a bit harder to learn, because chances are it will give you a better understanding of how a computer fundamentally works. That's part of the reason I regret starting with python, which hides a lot of that from the user. When I took my first C++ course in college, my initial reaction was something akin to "What the fuck is this shit?"

After getting a bit deeper into it though I started to realize how python was doing the things it did and started to be able to do more complex stuff in python by simply translating what I had learned with C++ to python syntax.

So I would say play around with a few of the more popular languages and see which, if any, make an impression and then run with it.


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Offlinehusmmoor
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Re: C++ books question (newbie alert) [Re: Deimos]
    #15885401 - 03/01/12 01:06 PM (8 years, 8 months ago)

Thanks for the advice, Deimos. Maybe I will follow your advice in a while, but I decided to start off with Java. I read about Python, Objective C, and standard C yesterday, and also took a brief look at PHP which I experimented with a bit years ago (just for some minor patching of content management system for a homepage), but it seems like the most consistently used beginners language is Java these days.. And I have to start some where. So I ordered a book by Horstmann called "Big Java" and it certainly is big. :smile: Will take me a while to get through it, and let's see if I can even understand it, when I don't have a teacher or tutor to ask for help. I'll post a progress report in a while! :heart:


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