Tuesday, 19 February 2013

C low level programming

Recently I was repeatedly exposed to low level Windows code using C and Win32, and you know what, I didn't hate it completely! Surprise!

Let's go through the usual complaints:

1. Windows coding style --> horrible at the first sight, but you get used to it (see my previous post).
  bool DeleteRegistryValue (HKEY hKeyRoot, LPCTSTR pszSubKey, LPCTSTR pszValue)
    HKEY hKey;
    LONG lRes = RegOpenKeyEx (hKeyRoot, pszSubKey, 0, KEY_SET_VALUE, &hKey);

    if (lRes != ERROR_SUCCESS)
        SetLastError ((DWORD)lRes);
        return false;

    lRes = RegDeleteValue (hKey, pszValue);

    //... etc
You see what I mean? Hungarian notation, uppercase function names, weird data type macros... But as I said, you'll get used to everything :-\.

2. Low level, unsafe C-library APIs --> come on, every programmer should know C (vide Joel*) and after a while you just know it and can work as quickly with lstrcmp() and others as with std::string (Heaven forbid CString's!)

3. Ugly OS API? --> OK, that's a bummer if you, like me, grew up with clean Unix kernel interface**. But what the heck, it's still system programming, low level, dirty, cool. I a word, I like it!

And do you know what I liked best? It's clean! No DLL dependencies, no hassle with VisualStudio distributables, Qt versions, manifests, load paths etc. Just your code and the system libraries. Small and beautiful. If you have a penchant for software aesthetics, you'll appreciate it too!

* http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/CollegeAdvice.html
** somehow the feelings of a LISPer forced to code in OCaml or even worse, in Java!