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Rust is kind to its coders, C++ makes you feel terrible

Since it burst onto the scene in the mid-2010s, many have been touting rust as the 'C++ killer.' Though C++ still tends to come out on top in terms of low latency code, rust is taking an alternate approach, killing it with kindness.

Rust's likeability is nothing new; the language has stood undisputed as the most loved language in the Stack Overflow survey for several years. However, a new piece in the MIT Technology Review piece examines what really makes Rust so enjoyable to code with.

One of Rust's most endearing features is its error messaging system. Nell Shamrell-Harrington, a principal engineer at Microsoft, said that C++ error messaging "make[s] me feel like a terrible person," when compared to Rust's unusually polite responses to mistakes.

Some of those friendly responses are shown in the screenshot below, taken from this Reddit thread. 

C++ meanwhile operates with the cruel ambiguity of Terrence Fletcher in Whiplash: you don't know how to get it right until its right, and if you can't get it right... tough.

One programmer tells us that "while it is possible for C++ compiler developers to make the error messages more user-friendly, the complexity of template programming makes this challenging."

While it could be assumed that the trade-off for a more friendly and enjoyable language is lower pay, that's not necessarily the case. Rust lands in the top 10 highest paying languages on the 2022 Stack Overflow developer survey, 21 places above C++ (admittedly with less than half the respondents)

Within the finance industry specifically, however, C++ commands some of the highest pay available by virtue of its low latency and large code base. Programmers in the industry may need to stick with unfriendly error messages for a while yet. 

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AUTHORAlex McMurray Editor
  • Sa
    Sarfaraz Nawaz
    13 March 2023

    >> while it is possible for C++ compiler developers to make the error messages more user-friendly, the complexity of template programming makes this challenging.


    That's not the case anymore. With C++20 (released two years back), the language now have a tool called `concept` which helps the compilers to generate very concise and readable for template error messages.

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