A Step-by-Step Guide to Learning C++ by@ankitdixit

A Step-by-Step Guide to Learning C++

image
Ankit Dixit HackerNoon profile picture

Ankit Dixit

I am a Software Developer

Introduction:

C++ is one of the most popular High-Level Programming Languages in today’s world. The fact that C++ is so popular and is used widely nowadays, although it is quite an old programming language, makes one eager to learn and explore this language. In this article, we are going to discuss a step-by-step guide on how you can learn C++. Also, we will discuss why it is good to learn C++. So, let’s get started.

History of C++

C++ is one of the oldest programming languages in the world and because of this, it becomes very important to understand the History of C++. Understanding the history of C++ gives us an idea about the initial goal of the developer(s) of this language and what evolutions and changes have taken place in the past years that have led to this language being so popular, even in today’s world.

Bjarne Stroustrup is the inventor/developer of the C++ programming language. He developed it in 1979 when he was working in the Bell Labs on a thesis for the completion of his Ph.D. C++ was not the initial name of this language.

Before the invention of C++, the C programming language was the most popular and widely used programming language. However, it was a procedural programming language i.e. most of the actions that we perform in it were to be done using functions. Functions are in a way the building blocks of a C program.

However, C++ introduced the concept of Object-Oriented Programming with syntax and internal working very similar to the C programming language. Hence, the language invented by Bjarne Stroustrup was named “C with Classes” because Classes are the building blocks of any Object-Oriented Programming Language.

However, it is very important to note that “C with Classes” or C++, is not a purely Object-Oriented language. Also, it supports all the procedural-oriented features of the C programming language.

This new programming language did not remove any major feature of the C programming language, instead, it added more functionalities to the C programming language.

It was thus seen as an increment of the C programming language, and hence the name C++ came into the picture. This is because ++ is the increment operator which means adding 1 to a value. The change of name from “C with Classes” to C++ took place in 1983.

In 1985, C++ was released for the first time for commercial use. However, the standardization of the C++ programming language for commercial use was not done in 1985.

Borland released Turbo C++ Compiler in 1990. This brought many new additional features to C++ and it was published in 1998 with its first international standard. Since it was published in 1998, it was known as C++98. C++98 is still in use and has not become obsolete. 

The major additional feature that was incorporated in the C++ standardization of 1998 was the very famous C++ Standard Template Library (STL).

STL was introduced in 1994. STL is a library that contains a lot of inbuilt data structures and algorithms to use so that the programmer does not need to create his/her own data structure or write a general algorithm from scratch, every time he/she has to code.  

In 2003, C++ came with some revised standards based on the feedback that was gotten in all these years from 1998, and hence the version C++03 was introduced. 

Later, in the year 2011, another version of C++ was released with features like the introduction of the “auto” keyword that provides the new syntax for writing loops (for each loop), support for Regular Expressions (Regex), etc. This version is called C++11.

Another version of C++ came in 2014 with some minute features called C++14.

The latest version of C++ is C++17 introduced in 2017. However, the old versions of C++ are not obsolete. In fact, the oldest version i.e. the first standardized version of C++98 is still in use.

What is C++ and Why should you learn it?

So, after understanding a lot about the history of C++, it is clear that C++ is a high-level programming language that supports both Object-Oriented Programming as well as Procedural-Oriented Programming.

Now, the question arises, why should you learn C++? Is it because it is easy to learn? The answer to this is NO. C++ is not an easy to learn programming language. Still, every programmer should learn C++. This is because of the following reasons:

  • C++ supports procedural-oriented programming which is a very fast method of executing code. This is the reason that C++ is used in Competitive Programming a lot as it is way faster compared to the other modern languages like Java, Python, etc. 
  • Since C++ also supports object-oriented programming, the readability of code increases in comparison to the C language and the mixture of procedure orientation with the object orientation provides enables C++ to produce real-world applications faster than other programming languages. 
  • C++ has the concept of pointers and reference variables. Most programming languages do not have the concept of pointers which is a very important concept to learn in programming. Hence, everyone should learn C++ to understand the concept of pointers and how the memory works behind the scenes of a simple program.
  • The Standard Template Library is considered one of the best and most promising features of C++. The C++ STL is very popular even among the programmers of other languages as it provides a lot of features and is very easy to learn.
  • Overall, C++ provides a full-packed programming experience that probably no other programming language can provide. Hence, to learn the basic concepts and build your fundamentals in programming, it is often advised to learn C++ as it has many concepts that other programming languages have implemented on their own and the programmer does not get a taste of what it is to handle complex errors and write an optimized code.

How to Learn C++?

Now to answer the most important question of this discussion, let us discuss a step-by-step guide for learning C++.

Step 1: Learn the Basic Syntax

The very first step of learning any programming language should be learning the basic syntax. You should start by writing the “Hello World” program in C++ as shown below.

#include <iostream>
using namespace std;

int main() {
	// Hello World Program in C++
    cout << "Hello World";
	return 0;
}

Where can you write this code? You can write this code in a code editor or IDE of your choice.

A code editor is just like Microsoft Word. Like in Microsoft Word, you can write some text and edit it, in the same way, a code editor allows you to write some code and edit it.

Apart from that, you can also use any favorite IDE of your choice. An IDE stands for Integrated Development Environment. It provides more functionalities as compared to a code editor. For more information about choosing the correct code editor/IDE for writing C++ programs, you can visit Best C++ IDEs and Source Code Editors.

You can learn the basic syntax of C++ from many books that are available out there on the internet. However, some popular books that you can rely on are Let us C++, The Complete C++ Reference, etc. If you don't want to learn from books, a lot of free material is available online. You may learn from articles or YouTube also.

Step 2: Learn Object-Oriented Programming in C++

After learning the basic C++ syntax, it becomes very important to learn Object-Oriented Programming(OOP) in C++.

You should devote your time to learning the concepts like Classes and Objects, inheritance, abstraction, encapsulation, polymorphism, exception-handling, etc.

These concepts are the major pillars of object-oriented programming. Again, you can use the online available resources to learn C++ Object-Oriented Programming. There are a lot of resources available in the form of articles and YouTube videos. Also, the books that are mentioned above contain a plethora of knowledge on OOP in C++.

You can learn about the Basic Principles of OOP and then also try to solve some questions related to OOP in C++. You can also build a mini project like a library management system or any such minor project so that your OOP concepts become strong and you also get a touch of developing a real-world application using C++.

Step 3: Learning Basic Data Structures and Some Basic Algorithms

Learning basic data structures and algorithms in C++ is very important. This helps in improving your problem-solving skills, gives you a practice of OOP in C++, and will also be very helpful for learning STL in C++.

Please note that for learning C++ only, you do not have to master data structures and algorithms. You just need to have an idea about the basic working of most of the data structures like arrays, trees, linked lists, graphs, heaps, and maps.

You also need to have an idea about basic algorithms like linear search, binary search, and sorting algorithms such as bubble sort, insertion sort, selection sort, quick sort, merge sort, etc.

The popular book Data Structures and Algorithms Made Easy by Narasimha Karumanchi is a very good resource for learning these data structures and algorithms in C++.

Step 4: Learn Basics of Generic Programming in C++ (Templates)

Learning Generic Programming before learning C++ STL is a very basic fact that most people miss out on. It hardly takes a day to learn about templates in C++ and how they are used for Generic Programming i.e. creating generic data structures that can store integers, booleans, characters, or even user-defined data types too. You can follow any resource online to learn about templates.

Step 5: Learn C++ STL

Learning Standard Template Library (STL) in C++ does not require a lot of time. It can be done quickly and it is easy to understand C++ STL if you know the basic working of data structures and have an in-depth idea about Generic Programming in C++. There are a lot of free resources on the internet to learn C++ STL.

Step 6: Practice and Revision

The final and the most important step is Practice and Revision. You would have learned a lot by now. So, it is important to brush up on those concepts and keep practicing them. You can use any IDE to Practice C++ or you can Practice your programs on an online Compiler.

Note: It is recommended that you take notes of all the things you learn as it is very important for your future reference and for you to be able to revise the previously studied concepts quickly.

Conclusion:

So, these are the 6 major steps that you need to follow to learn C++. These steps along with the resources that are mentioned will help you ace C++ programming. Some tips for you are mentioned below:

  • C++ programming can be tough at times. It can be overwhelming especially when you learn the concepts like Pointers and Polymorphism, etc. for the first time. So, take a break if it feels hectic but do not quit as this knowledge will strengthen your basics to the extent that you will become a successful software engineer or developer if you continue on this path.
  • Do not spend too much time on any one topic and never neglect any topic as well.
  • Practice while learning C++. The C++ syntax or for that matter, any programming language can only be learned by practicing and not by just reading. So, make sure to write the code yourself.

Comments

Signup or Login to Join the Discussion

Tags

Related Stories