Table of Contents

While 2020 was a crazy and hard year we were fortunate - C++20 was accepted and published, and the work on new features continues.

As usually every year, here’s my overview of the year: the standardization process, features, implementation, compilers, tools, books and more.

Previous reports:

2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012.

Disclaimer: the view presented here is mine and does not represent the opinion of the ISO C++ committee.

A Brief Introduction

Here are the main things for this year that got my attention:

  • C++20 finished and published!
  • C++20 almost implemented in popular compilers!
  • Everything moving online!

Read on to get the full picture.

Timeline

The below table helps to see the main events:

Date Event
February 10 - February 15 Prague ISO Meeting
March 12 GCC 9.3
March 16 Visual studio 2019 16.5
March 24 Clang 10.0
May 7 GCC 10.1
May 19 Visual Studio 2019 16.6
May 26 C++ Builder, Sydney 10.4
July 23 GCC 10.2
August 5 Visual studio 2019 16.7
September 4 C++20 Draft International Standard Approved and ready for Publication
September 13 - September 18 CppCon 2020 (main event)
October 12 Clang 11.0
October 22 Intel Compiler Classic 19.1
November 10 Visual Studio 2019 16.8
November 12 - November 14 Meeting C++ 2020 Conference
December 1 Beman Dawes, one of the most influential people in C++’s history, passed away, see memorandum @Iso
December 15 C++20 Published as ISO/IEC 14882:2020

Compiler Support for C++14

Just for the completeness and reminder:

Clang (since 3.4 ), GCC (since 5.0) and Intel (version 15.0) already have full support for C++14. Visual Studio announced full conformance with C++17 (so also with C++14) with VS 2017 15.7.

Compiler Support for C++17

In 2020 we can say that C++17 is stable enough in major compiler vendors. I see a gradual but visible transition towards using C++17 conformance flag in many projects.

Additionally with GCC 11 you’ll be using C++17 as a default C++ dialect! See this information: GCC 11 Now Defaults To C++17 Dialect By Default - Phoronix.

Still, we can have a look at a super handy table @cppreference with C++17 support, and there are a few “holes” in the Standard Library implementations:

The rest is ready, and you can read about all of them in my blog posts:

Ok, so how about C++20? What’s the status here?

C++20 is Done!

The C++ was lucky because the last ISO “live” meeting happened just before the COVID situation got worse and caused lockdowns in many countries. In February the ISO Comeete gathered and completed their work on C++20! Later everything could happen online - final voting and the publication process.

All in all, in September, was C++20 Approved

And in December C++20 is now publised at ISO: C++20 Published (ISO/IEC 14882:2020).

This release is very important as it fulfils the Design and Evolution of C++ specified by Bjarne Stroustrup from 1994! We have modules, coroutines, concepts and more!

You can read more directly from Brajne: Bjarne Stroustrup on C++20’s significance : Standard C++

And See this reddit thread: C++20 Published (ISO/IEC 14882:2020) : cpp with a large discussion!

Let’s have a look at some significant features. It looks like major compiler vendors are super fast and it’s very close to having the full implementation of C++20!

Feature GCC Clang Visual Studio
P0515R3 Three-way comparison operator <=> 10.0 10.0 VS 2019 16.0
P0734R0 Concepts 10.0 10.0 VS 2019 16.3
P0898R3 Concepts Library 10.0 not yet VS 2019 16.3
P0912R5 Coroutines 10.0 8 partial VS 2019 16.5
P1103R3 Modules 11.0 8 partial VS 2019 16.8
P0896R4 Ranges 10.0 no VS 2019 16.8 partial
P0355R7 <chrono> Calendars And Time Zones no 7 partial no
P0645R10 <format> Text Formatting no no no

You can track the status @cppreference.

For more information and cool, informative articles, you can have a look at a long series from Rainer Grimm about the latest features:

And stay tuned for some new articles at @CppStories soon :)

C++23 Started

After the work on C++20 has completed the Committee started working (mostly online) on the next Standard. And some of the new features are already started to appear!

The first language feature accepted is:

  • Literal suffix for (signed) size_t - P0330R8.

And there are several library features:

  • Stacktrace library - P0881R7
  • <stdatomic.h> - P0943R6
  • std::is_scoped_enum - P1048R1
  • contains() for basic_string/basic_string_view - P1679R3

And here’s the overall plan for the new Standard - To boldly suggest an overall plan for C++23 - P0592

  • Library support for coroutines
  • A modular standard library
  • Executors
  • Networking

And maybe:

  • Reflection
  • Pattern matching
  • Contracts

Sorry for an interruption in the flow :)
I've prepared a little bonus if you're interested in Modern C++, check it out here:

ISO C++ Meetings

February: Prague, Czech Republic, Europe

It was the only meeting in 2020, and fortunately, the Committee managed to complete the work on C++20.

Some notes:

Online Meetings

Trip report: Autumn ISO C++ standards meeting (virtual) – Sutter’s Mill

See available monthly mailings summary:

Compiler Notes

Compiler vendors are very busy, and we’re glad to have lots of big and smaller releases throughout the year! Here’s a summary of the changes.

Visual Studio

The current version is Visual Studio 2019 16.8.3, last updated in December - see Release notes for the VS 2019 version.

It looks like MSVC is probably closest to implementing the full support for C++20! The team struggled with C++11 and C++14, but once they rewrote many of their backend parts they got the traction and new features are almost instant :) Congratulations!

Some MSVC news and blogs:

And here’s a documentation page about the conformance with C++ Standards (including C++20): Microsoft C++ language conformance table

GCC

Current stable version GCC 10.2 July 23,, GCC 10 Release Series Changes

Clang

Current stable version: 11.0 - 12 October 2020, Release Notes

Intel compiler

Intel Compiler Classic - C++ Compiler 2021 see the Release notes

I don’t follow news in the “computing” category that much, but there’s an excellent overview from Denis Bakhvalov so have a look here:

Computing industry at the end of 2020 as I see it. | Easyperf

C++ Builder

The current version is RAD Studio 10.4 Sydney, released May 26 and updated recently in November. See the release notes

The IDE uses a modified Clang Compiler (version 5.5, see the compiler notes) and the Dinkumware STL implementation It works with both Win32 and Win64 apps. C++Builder is a full-featured IDE for building iOS, Android, Windows and macOS apps from a single C++ codebase.

Some news:

And what’s interesting is that Embarcadero supported Dev C++ and they managed to release a new (and free) version of this cool and small IDE! Here’s a thorough overview of the process: Embarcadero Dev-C++: Successfully Modernizing A Popular Windows C++ IDE. And here’s the Github link: Embarcadero/Dev-Cpp: A fast, portable, simple, and free C/C++ IDE

Tools

While in theory, you can use a C++ compiler and a notepad you probably need some more tools to write a real project :)

Here’s a nice overview of the whole C++ Ecosystem: C++ Ecosystem: Compilers, IDEs, Tools, Testing and More - C++ Stories

And below you can find a list of their updates in 2020:

Clang Tools:

Clang/LLVM powers many great utilities! For example:

IDE and Productivity

Visual Assist

The latest version from 11th November.

This year the VA team managed to put a lot of improvements, especially in the area of code inspections and better performance for large projects.

ReSharper C++

CLion

SourceTrail

For a better code understanding, you can also have a look at SourceTrail. In 2019 it was released as an entirely free version! Sourcetrail is now free and open-source software – Sourcetrail Developer Blog

Code Analyzers:

PVS-Studio

PVS-Studio a tool for bug detection in the source code of programs, written in C, C++, and C#. It works in Windows and Linux environment.

It’s now in the 7.11 version, see PVS-Studio 7.11 Release: IAR Arm, Diagnostics, FREE-FREE-FREE-FREE.

You can also look at my blog post: How I Improved My Legacy C++ Project with PVS-Studio - C++ Stories

CppDepend

This year we have version 2020.1 - CppDepend - What’s new in CppDepend!)

Package Managers:

Conferences

Hm… how to summarise what happened this year regarding conferences… hmmm :)

Everything moved online, from CppCon, Meeting C++, C++Now, ACCU, code::dive… and many more.

Here’s a good summary from March:

C++ 2020 events affected by Covid-19

Just in case here’s the link to ISO C++ page with all registered conferences around the world: Conferences Worldwide, C++FAQ.

Community & User Groups

User groups are a chance for you to meet other C++ programmers, share your experience and learn new things. I highly recommend visiting such groups regularly… or at least once in a while.

If you don’t have a User Group close to your place (but please check User Groups Worldwide), you can also participate in:

This year we also got Meeting C++ Online! It’s one talk, once per month but totally online - so you can join from any place you like!

Meeting C++ online

Books & Courses

A few selected books that arrived this year (or late 2019):

Name Release Date
C++20 by Rainer Grimm (in progress) December 2020
C++ Best Practices by Jason Turner December 2020
C++ Move Semantics - The Complete Guide @Amazon October 2020
Introduction to Programming with C++ for Engineers (Wiley - IEEE) by Boguslaw Cyganek November 2020
Performance Analysis and Tuning on Modern CPUs: Squeeze the last bit of performance from your application. by Denis Bakhvalov December 2020
Data Parallel C++: Mastering DPC++ for Programming of Heterogeneous Systems using C++ and SYCL November 2020
Modern C++ Programming Cookbook: Master C++ core language and standard library features, with over 100 recipes, updated to C++20, 2nd Edition by Marius Bancila September 2020
C++ Lambda Story: Everything you need to know about Lambda Expressions in Modern C++ by Bartlomiej Filipek August 2020
Unreal Engine C++ the Ultimate Developer’s Handbook: Learn C++ and Unreal Engine by Creating a Complete Action Game by Stephen Seth Ulibarri June 2020
Windows 10 System Programming, Part 1 by Pavel Yosifovich April 2020
Large-Scale C++ Volume I: Process and Architecture by John Lakos December 2019

Popularity

Let’s have a look at some charts/stats:

  • Tiobe shows C++ on the 4th place. It’s now 6.91%… so we gained 0.8% since last year! See the chart here: Tiobe Index.
  • In the StackOverflow Survey C++ is positioned at 10th place, above C (but below Java, C# and of course JavaScript). Last year it was 9th place..
  • In GitHub survey, C++ has 7th place and moved down from 6th place last year.

Your Input & Survey

A week ago, I started a quick survey where I wanted to get some data about C++ use. I got 427 answers! Thank you!

Let’s make some summary and tables from your answers :)

C++ Standard Used

On a daily basis, which C++ Standard do you use?

Answer 2020 2019 2018
Pre C++11 8.4% 10.3% 20%
C++11 25.5% 30.3% 41%
C++14 28.6% 35% 42%
C++17 64.4% 62.4% 44%
C++20 20.4% 9.2% n/a

(The numbers for the above do not sum to 100%)

C++ Use 2020 vs 2020

As we can see, C++17 is substantial and C++20 gains more and more users and early adopters.

Experience with C++17

What’s your experience with C++17?

Answer 2020 2019
experimenting with C++17 34.9% 39.4%
only read basic information 9.4% 13.4%
already using in production 52.2% 41.6%
don’t know any of its feature 1.6% 2.6%

This year we can see steady progress in the adoption of the C++ Standard.

Experience with C++20

What’s your experience with C++20?

Answer 2020 2019
experimenting with C++20 35.6% 29.3%
only read basic information 50.8% 59.8%
already using in production 6.8% n/a
don’t know any of its feature 5.2% 9.1%

Compilers Used

What compiler do you use?

Answer 2020 2019
GCC 70.3% 75.6%
Clang 49.6% 58.7%
MSVC 58.5% 56.3%
Intel Compiler 2.8% 3.1%
Borland C++ 3% 1.2%

(The numbers for the above do not sum to 100%)

What additional tools do you use?

Answer 2020 2019
Debugger 77% 83.6%
Sanitizers 31.9% 40.4%
Static Code Analysis 60.9% 55.7%
Profilers 53.4% 56.8%
Clang Format 43.3% 49.3%
CMake 62.3% 66%
Package Managers 23.2% 21.4%

(The numbers for the above do not sum to 100%), Last year I didn’t ask that question.

Best thing that happened in 2020:

This was an open question, and from what I’ve seen, the main things were as follows (no special order):

  • C++20 ISO standard was approved.
  • All the conferences still were there, though online
  • Ranges, Concepts, Modules, Coroutines
  • Keeping a job or finding a new one
  • The addition of the borrow checker to Clang.
  • C++17 uses in my company/project!
  • C++17 parallel stl g++/clang++ support
  • Cppcon2020
  • Meeting C++ Online
  • New AMD CPUs!
  • Visual studio and lots of updates and staying ahead with C++20 support

Summary

Here are the things that got my attention this year (regarding C++):

  • C++20 finished and published!
  • C++20 almost implemented in popular compilers!
  • Everything moving online!

It was an amazing year for C++ as a programming language! The whole progress on C++20 standardization and implementation status (we’re very close to having full support in MSVC). This all happened in this crazy 2020.

On the other hand, we also lost a very prominent C++ Expert: Beman Dawes. He joined the Committee in 1992, even before the C++98 was standardized, and from that year he contributed to many elements of C++ and the Standard Library (and Boost). You can read his story in this article @IsoC++.

Using the occasion, I wish you all the best in 2021, and hopefully, we can start getting back to “normal”!

Your Turn

  • What do you think about C++ in 2020?
  • What was the most important event/news for you?
  • Did I miss something? Let me know in comments!

Join the discussion at this Reddit/r/cpp thread.