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16 August 2012, 14:24

GCC shifts internal focus to C++

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GCC logo The development branch of the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) now includes the major modifications that provide a C++ re-implementation of the C code that was originally accumulated when the collection was first created. Before this re-implementation, the code used in stage 1 of GCC build process was implemented in the C programming language. The code used in stages 2 and 3 of the GCC build process has been available in C++ for a while.

With this modification, the GCC developers have successfully taken a long-planned step towards migrating the GCC code from C to C++. The idea took shape in May 2010 after the developers decided that C++ is an acceptable language for GCC. The first code modifications were planned and implemented as part of the "GCC in Cxx" project. In the follow-up project, "Cxx conversion", the programmers developed the changes that have now been integrated into the development branch, which will create the next generation of the current GCC 4.7 release.

The two projects' wiki pages say that the switch from C to C++ is designed to keep GCC understandable and maintainable; however, the developers note that unwise use of C++ can make things more difficult. "But this issue is not qualitatively different from the issues we face today," they added. Further information on the switch can be found in presentation slidesPDF by Google developer Ian Lance Taylor, who explained the advantages to switching to C++ in mid-2008.

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