Why are so many companies hobbling their programmers with positively ancient and often positively crappy tools? For once I’m not ranting about companies that are too cheap to provide their C++ programmers with important tools like profilers and leak detectors – the usual “if these were important, the tool vendor would include them” argument, but the one tool right at the heart of the matter. The one none of us can work without in C++ space. I am, of course, talking about the compiler.

One of my personal pet peeves is the number of projects that are still using Visual C++ 6 – for $DEITY’s sake, that compiler was released back in 1998 and it wasn’t that good back then. Microsoft has since released four new versions of their C++ compiler and a fifth is due very soon. Each one of them is better and more importantly, more standard compliant than its predecessor. All have benefited enormously from people trying to push the boundaries of what you can do with C++ in the past eleven years. Oh, and mainstream support for the compiler ended years ago, but who’s counting? Yet companies still insist on using this outdated piece of <censored>, depriving their programmers of the ability to use more modern C++ techniques that often make for a safer programming environment.

If your code doesn’t build with a modern, standard compliant compiler and you’re not about to switch off the life support for your project (just about the only justification IMHO for working with ancient tools), the go ahead and get it to compile on the newer version of the compiler. Postponing the conversion will only add to your technical debt until that gets to the point where you, well, switch off life support…

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