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Question
Hi first of all I appreciate your professional contribution here. A little about myself. I am about to change careers and want to enter the world of programming. C++ seems to be a worthed computer language to study. Just wanted to ask which is the right way to study this language? Can you pls suggest any books or good websites for reference and studying?

Best Regards
Jason

Answer
From your question I gather you have no previous programming or software development experience. Sorry if this is incorrect.

You should think hard as to whether this is the best choice for you - if you have an alternative position lined up and it requires C++ development experience then I suppose it would.

Otherwise consider if:

a) programming or software development is what you really wish to do
b) C++ is definitely the best language to learn at the start.

I have noticed that many software development jobs these days require Java in some flavour for example, and also some internet / web based development knowledge.

However if you are moving from an electrical engineering career then maybe you would be targeting the embedded market for work - in which C and C++ are common options.

The best way to study anything in my opinion is to get your hands dirty as it were. Get yourself a development environment and start practicing. As with anything start simple and progress in easy stages as your understanding increases. Do _not_ expect instant enlightenment. If software development is new to you then you are going to have quite a lot to get to grips with and in some ways C++ can be tricky for the beginner. However read on...

For absolute beginners there is a new book called "You Can Do It - A Beginner's Introduction to Computer Programming" by Francis Glassborow and Roberta Allen. It comes with a companion CD with a C++ compiler and an IDE (integrated development environment) to get you going - but at present these require a PC running MS Windows. I have not read this book personally but the reviews I have read have been very positive - noting only a few flaws - much better than most reviews I have read for beginner's C++ or programming books!

If you do have some prior programming experience then you might like to try "Accelerated C++" by Andrew Koenig and Barbara Moo - again I have not read this book, but it is often sited as a good place for people to start in with C++ if they have done some programming before.

As for online sites for studying - I do not look for them, and other references I have found indicate that they may not be all that good. It may just be that myself and these other site owners have not found the good online C++ tutorials!

As to other sources of information. A good place to start is the ACCU site at http://www.accu.org - they have a book reviews section and resource links as well as mentored development areas for members.

You might like to look at the C++ links at:

http://www.fz-juelich.de/zam/cxx/extern.html#ezine

However I cannot vouch for the quality of anything you find there - some I know of such as the "The On-Line C++ FAQ" by Marshall Cline on the parashift site, and indeed is the first place you are directed to before posting a question on the comp.lang.c++.moderated newsgroup.

Good luck and enjoy the experience. If I am available please feel free to ask me other questions as you get stuck in to C++ and software development.  

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Ralph McArdell

Expertise

I am a software developer with more than 15 years C++ experience and over 25 years experience developing a wide variety of applications for Windows NT/2000/XP, UNIX, Linux and other platforms. I can help with basic to advanced C++, C (although I do not write just-C much if at all these days so maybe ask in the C section about purely C matters), software development and many platform specific and system development problems.

Experience

My career started in the mid 1980s working as a batch process operator for the now defunct Inner London Education Authority, working on Prime mini computers. I then moved into the role of Programmer / Analyst, also on the Primes, then into technical support and finally into the micro computing section, using a variety of 16 and 8 bit machines. Following the demise of the ILEA I worked for a small company, now gone, called Hodos. I worked on a part task train simulator using C and the Intel DVI (Digital Video Interactive) - the hardware based predecessor to Indeo. Other projects included a CGI based train simulator (different goals to the first), and various other projects in C and Visual Basic (er, version 1 that is). When Hodos went into receivership I went freelance and finally managed to start working in C++. I initially had contracts working on train simulators (surprise) and multimedia - I worked on many of the Dorling Kindersley CD-ROM titles and wrote the screensaver games for the Wallace and Gromit Cracking Animator CD. My more recent contracts have been more traditionally IT based, working predominately in C++ on MS Windows NT, 2000. XP, Linux and UN*X. These projects have had wide ranging additional skill sets including system analysis and design, databases and SQL in various guises, C#, client server and remoting, cross porting applications between platforms and various client development processes. I have an interest in the development of the C++ core language and libraries and try to keep up with at least some of the papers on the ISO C++ Standard Committee site at http://www.open-std.org/jtc1/sc22/wg21/.

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