[Techtalk] compilers

Mary Gardiner mary at puzzling.org
Sat Jan 5 10:48:06 EST 2002

On Fri, Jan 04, 2002 at 12:47:34PM -0500, Terri Oda wrote:
> I don't want to be too discouraging here, but I've found, unfortunately, 
> that sometimes you *have* to use what they suggest in order to get the 
> results they want for courses.  It's unfortunate, but I can understand 
> where they don't want the poor TAs having to support multi operating 
> systems and compilers, and the functions can vary quite a bit from platform 
> to platform even within a standardized language.

The primary concern for the initial poster is with C++. Visual C++ has a
lot of features/libraries that are specific to a Windows programming
environment, or even to VC++ itself.

A good way to figure it out is to think about the textbook for the
course. If the textbook is compiler independent (eg Stroustrup's The C++
Programming Language) or language independent (it's an AI textbook or
something) then there's a fair chance that you can use any damn compiler
you like. If it has "Visual C++" in the title, or all the examples are
clearly compiled using Visual C++ then you're stuck. It probably
involves Microsoft Windows specific libraries that simply aren't
available for Linux - you're essentially taking a Windows programming course.

Unless they're really working hard they should be teaching a Java course
in which you can use any compiler you like, Java's platform independence
is much more robust than that of C++.

That said, always always always leave a day at the end of any assignment
to make sure that your program compiles and runs on the machines that
you are expected to demonstrate or test it on. My university awards
marks based on automatic compilation and output testing, and it has been
known for up to a quarter of students to hand in something that doesn't
compile (the most common mistake is leaving the carriage return
character that occurs in Windows text files in a Makefile - the version
of make on my university's UNIX systems does not recognise these


Mary Gardiner
<mary at puzzling.org>                            http://puzzling.org/

More information about the Techtalk mailing list