The Annotated C++ Reference Manual

Category: Programming
Author: Margaret A. Ellis, Bjarne Stroustrup
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by kazinator   2019-07-05
You can easily obtain convenient fat pointers with like the the 1990 dialect of C++ described here:

by anonymous   2017-12-24
Namespaces in general were added during standardisation (the first C++ standard was in 1998). Prior to that the de facto standard was the ARM (Annotated Reference Manual). The blurb for that says "A final chapter describes resolutions by the ANSI/ISO committee including new features such as ... namespaces." (E.g.
by litb   2017-08-20


Introductory, no previous programming experience

Introductory, with previous programming experience

* Not to be confused with C++ Primer Plus (Stephen Prata), with a significantly less favorable review.

Best practices



Reference Style - All Levels

C++11/14 References:

  • The C++ Standard (INCITS/ISO/IEC 14882-2011) This, of course, is the final arbiter of all that is or isn't C++. Be aware, however, that it is intended purely as a reference for experienced users willing to devote considerable time and effort to its understanding. As usual, the first release was quite expensive ($300+ US), but it has now been released in electronic form for $60US.

  • The C++14 standard is available, but seemingly not in an economical form – directly from the ISO it costs 198 Swiss Francs (about $200 US). For most people, the final draft before standardization is more than adequate (and free). Many will prefer an even newer draft, documenting new features that are likely to be included in C++17.

  • Overview of the New C++ (C++11/14) (PDF only) (Scott Meyers) (updated for C++1y/C++14) These are the presentation materials (slides and some lecture notes) of a three-day training course offered by Scott Meyers, who's a highly respected author on C++. Even though the list of items is short, the quality is high.

  • The C++ Core Guidelines (C++11/14/17/…) (edited by Bjarne Stroustrup and Herb Sutter) is an evolving online document consisting of a set of guidelines for using modern C++ well. The guidelines are focused on relatively higher-level issues, such as interfaces, resource management, memory management and concurrency affecting application architecture and library design. The project was announced at CppCon'15 by Bjarne Stroustrup and others and welcomes contributions from the community. Most guidelines are supplemented with a rationale and examples as well as discussions of possible tool support. Many rules are designed specifically to be automatically checkable by static analysis tools.

  • The C++ Super-FAQ (Marshall Cline, Bjarne Stroustrup and others) is an effort by the Standard C++ Foundation to unify the C++ FAQs previously maintained individually by Marshall Cline and Bjarne Stroustrup and also incorporating new contributions. The items mostly address issues at an intermediate level and are often written with a humorous tone. Not all items might be fully up to date with the latest edition of the C++ standard yet.

  • (C++03/11/14/17/…) (initiated by Nate Kohl) is a wiki that summarizes the basic core-language features and has extensive documentation of the C++ standard library. The documentation is very precise but is easier to read than the official standard document and provides better navigation due to its wiki nature. The project documents all versions of the C++ standard and the site allows filtering the display for a specific version. The project was presented by Nate Kohl at CppCon'14.

Classics / Older

Note: Some information contained within these books may not be up-to-date or no longer considered best practice.

by anonymous   2017-08-20

I lot of folks can suggest more modern, up-to-date books. But I still recommend The Annotated C++ Reference Manual by Margaret A. Ellis & Bjarne Stroustrup.

The ARM was published back in '90. It's become somewhat outdated with respect to templates. STL is (obviously) absent. (Though the website at does a good job of covering STL!)

However, the ARM is dirt cheap (used). (Shipping will exceed the cost of the book.) Its signal-to-noise ratio remains off the scale. It's very good at digging into C++'s dirty areas, explaining what was done & why.

I still use it as a reference. I rank it up there with K&R.

by anonymous   2017-08-20

According to the Standard, if no copy constructor is provided by the programmer for a class, the compiler will synthesize a constructor which exhibits default memberwise initialization. (12.8.8) However, in 12.8.1, the Standard also says,

A class object can be copied in two ways, by initialization (12.1, 8.5), including for function argument passing (5.2.2) and for function value return (6.6.3), and by assignment (5.17). Conceptually, these two operations are implemented by a copy constructor (12.1) and copy assignment operator (13.5.3).

The operative word here is "conceptually," which, according to Lippman gives compiler designers an 'out' to actually doing memberwise initialization in "trivial" (12.8.6) implicitly defined copy constructors.

In practice, then, compilers have to synthesize copy constructors for these classes that exhibit behavior as if they were doing memberwise initialization. But if the class exhibits "Bitwise Copy Semantics" (Lippman, p. 43) then the compiler does not have to synthesize a copy constructor (which would result in a function call, possibly inlined) and do bitwise copy instead. This claim is apparently backed up in the ARM, but I haven't looked this up yet.

Using a compiler to validate that something is Standard-compliant is always a bad idea, but compiling your code and viewing the resulting assembly seems to verify that the compiler is not doing memberwise initialization in a synthesized copy constructor, but doing a memcpy instead:

#include <cstdlib>

class MyClass
  int a,b,c;
  double x,y,z;

int main()
    MyClass c;
    MyClass d = c;

    return 0;

The assembly generated for MyClass d = c; is:

000000013F441048  lea         rdi,[d] 
000000013F44104D  lea         rsi,[c] 
000000013F441052  mov         ecx,28h 
000000013F441057  rep movs    byte ptr [rdi],byte ptr [rsi] 

...where 28h is the sizeof(MyClass).

This was compiled under MSVC9 in Debug mode.


The long and the short of this post is that:

1) So long as doing a bitwise copy will exhibit the same side effects as memberwise copy would, the Standard allows trivial implicit copy constructors to do a memcpy instead of memberwise copies.

2) Some compilers actually do memcpys instead of synthesizing a trivial copy constructor which does memberwise copies.