Why C++ Sails When the Vasa Sank

The Vasa was a 17th-century Swedish warship which suffered such feature creep during construction that it sank shortly after leaving the harbour on its maiden voyage. In the early 1990s, the C++ standardisation committee adopted the Vasa as a cautionary tale, discouraging prospective language extensions with "Remember the Vasa!" Yet C++ continued to grow, and by the time C++ was standardised, its complexity made the Vasa look like a rowboat.

The Vasa sank, however, while C++ cruised, and it looks likely to continue doing so even as the latest revised standards (C++11 and C++14) add dozens of new features, each with its own idiosyncrasies. Clearly, C++ has gotten some important things right. In this talk, Scott Meyers considers the lessons to be learned from the ongoing success of a complex programming language that's over 30 years old, yet very much alive and kicking.