RE: Why We Should Use the STL (fwd)

Subject: RE: Why We Should Use the STL (fwd)
From: James Montgomerie (
Date: Mon Jun 05 2000 - 07:33:05 CDT

I thought I'd bring up a practical point here, but, before I do, I'd like to
point out that I'm not a 'Luddite'. I've used the STL extensively (in fact,
I even have some GPLed template classes on my web site to download), and I
think it's great. Template classes are one of the best things about C++.

However, don't overestimate the pervasivnes of the STL. Recently (i.e. in
the last few weeks), at University, I tried to use STL classes in a project.
I hit some problems though.

The university provides an old (i.e. pre-egcs) version of gcc, and that's
what I have to use. It makes some attempts at being STL compliant, but it's
not. There are little differences. There are some /large/ differences (no
namespace support). I'd predict that, should we go down the STL route, it
will be very hard to support these 'couple of generations old' compilers
(and, despite what soma are thinking, this /is/ important.

People like me, using Linux at University and compiling their own copies of
AbiWord, are /important/ to 'the cause'. They're the people that are
'spreading the word' about Abiword (it's amazing how many poeple are using
AbiWord at uni now - at busy project times it's not unknown for about a
quarter of the computers to be running AbiWord - this despite the fact that
people could easily go upstairs and use Word).

If we use the STL, people like this will stop using AbiWord, because if it
doesn't compile first time, even if just because of a small STL support
issue, they're not going to try to fix it. They're just going to stop and
think 'wow, this software's rubbish, it doesn't even compile' - something
I'm sure we're all guilty of sometimes.

To re-iterate, I don't think of myself as a 'Luddite', but I would like to
urge people to think very carefully before going down the STL route. Maybe
in a couple of years the world will be ready - and we should perhaps write
code with one eye on the STL with a mind to future conversion - but I don't
think the world, or at least the porition of the word that doesn't update
their copy of RedHat whenever a new release comes out, is yet.


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