API Design for C++

API Design for C++

1st Edition - February 4, 2011

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  • Author: Martin Reddy
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780123850034
  • eBook ISBN: 9780123850041

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API Design for C++ provides a comprehensive discussion of Application Programming Interface (API) development, from initial design through implementation, testing, documentation, release, versioning, maintenance, and deprecation. It is the only book that teaches the strategies of C++ API development, including interface design, versioning, scripting, and plug-in extensibility. Drawing from the author's experience on large scale, collaborative software projects, the text offers practical techniques of API design that produce robust code for the long term. It presents patterns and practices that provide real value to individual developers as well as organizations. API Design for C++ explores often overlooked issues, both technical and non-technical, contributing to successful design decisions that product high quality, robust, and long-lived APIs. It focuses on various API styles and patterns that will allow you to produce elegant and durable libraries. A discussion on testing strategies concentrates on automated API testing techniques rather than attempting to include end-user application testing techniques such as GUI testing, system testing, or manual testing. Each concept is illustrated with extensive C++ code examples, and fully functional examples and working source code for experimentation are available online. This book will be helpful to new programmers who understand the fundamentals of C++ and who want to advance their design skills, as well as to senior engineers and software architects seeking to gain new expertise to complement their existing talents. Three specific groups of readers are targeted: practicing software engineers and architects, technical managers, and students and educators.

Key Features

  • The only book that teaches the strategies of C++ API development, including design, versioning, documentation, testing, scripting, and extensibility
  • Extensive code examples illustrate each concept, with fully functional examples and working source code for experimentation available online
  • Covers various API styles and patterns with a focus on practical and efficient designs for large-scale long-term projects


All software engineers developing C++ code to be used by other developers, whether via APIs, libraries, device drivers, or other reusable components

Table of Contents

    • Foreword
    • Preface
      • Why you should read this book
      • Who is the target audience
      • Focusing on C++
      • Conventions
      • Book web site
    • Acknowledgments
    • Author Biography
    • Chapter 1. Introduction
      • Publisher Summary
      • 1.1 What are Application Programming Interfaces?
      • 1.2 What's Different About API Design?
      • 1.3 Why Should you Use APIs?
      • 1.4 When Should you Avoid APIs?
      • 1.5 API Examples
      • 1.6 File Formats and Network Protocols
      • 1.7 About this Book
    • Chapter 2. Qualities
      • Publisher Summary
      • 2.1 Model the Problem Domain
      • 2.2 Hide Implementation Details
      • 2.3 Minimally Complete
      • 2.4 Easy to Use
      • 2.5 Loosely Coupled
      • 2.6 Stable, documented, and tested
    • Chapter 3. Patterns
      • Publisher Summary
      • 3.1 Pimpl Idiom
      • 3.2 Singleton
      • 3.3 Factory Methods
      • 3.4 API Wrapping Patterns
      • 3.5 Observer Pattern
    • Chapter 4. Design
      • Publisher Summary
      • 4.1 A Case for Good Design
      • 4.2 Gathering Functional Requirements
      • 4.3 Creating Use Cases
      • 4.4 Elements of Api Design
      • 4.5 Architecture Design
      • 4.6 Class Design
      • 4.7 Function Design
    • Chapter 5. Styles
      • Publisher Summary
      • 5.1 Flat C APIs
      • 5.2 Object-oriented C++ APIs
      • 5.3 Template-based APIs
      • 5.4 Data-driven APIs
    • Chapter 6. C++ Usage
      • Publisher Summary
      • 6.1 Namespaces
      • 6.2 Constructors and Assignment
      • 6.3 Const Correctness
      • 6.4 Templates
      • 6.5 Operator Overloading
      • 6.6 Function Parameters
      • 6.7 Avoid #define for Constants
      • 6.8 Avoid Using Friends
      • 6.9 Exporting Symbols
      • 6.10 Coding Conventions
    • Chapter 7. Performance
      • Publisher Summary
      • 7.1 Pass Input Arguments by Const Reference
      • 7.2 Minimize #include Dependencies
      • 7.3 Declaring Constants
      • 7.4 Initialization Lists
      • 7.5 Memory Optimization
      • 7.6 Don’t Inline Until You Need To
      • 7.7 Copy on Write
      • 7.8 Iterating Over Elements
      • 7.9 Performance Analysis
    • Chapter 8. Versioning
      • Publisher Summary
      • 8.1 Version Numbers
      • 8.2 Software Branching Strategies
      • 8.3 Life Cycle of an API
      • 8.4 Levels of Compatibility
      • 8.5 How to Maintain Backward Compatibility
      • 8.6 API Reviews
    • Chapter 9. Documentation
      • Publisher Summary
      • 9.1 Reasons to Write Documentation
      • 9.2 Types of Documentation
      • 9.3 Documentation Usability
      • 9.4 Using Doxygen
    • Chapter 10. Testing
      • Publisher Summary
      • 10.1 Reasons to Write Tests
      • 10.2 Types of API Testing
      • 10.3 Writing Good Tests
      • 10.4 Writing Testable Code
      • 10.5 Automated Testing Tools
    • Chapter 11. Scripting
      • Publisher Summary
      • 11.1 Adding Script Bindings
      • 11.2 Script-binding Technologies
      • 11.3 Adding Python Bindings With Boost Python
      • 11.4 Adding Ruby Bindings With Swig
    • Chapter 12. Extensibility
      • Publisher Summary
      • 12.1 Extending Via Plugins
      • 12.2 Extending Via Inheritance
      • 12.3 Extending Via Templates
    • Appendix A. Libraries
      • A.1 Static Versus Dynamic Libraries
      • A.2 Libraries on Windows
      • A.3 Libraries on Linux
      • A.4 Libraries on Mac Os X
    • Bibliography
    • Index

Product details

  • No. of pages: 472
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Morgan Kaufmann 2011
  • Published: February 4, 2011
  • Imprint: Morgan Kaufmann
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780123850034
  • eBook ISBN: 9780123850041

About the Author

Martin Reddy

Martin Reddy
Dr. Martin Reddy is the founder and CEO of the software consultancy firm Code Reddy Inc. He holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science and has over 15 years of experience in the software industry. During this time, he has written 3 software patents and has published over 40 professional articles and a book on 3D computer graphics.

Dr. Reddy worked for 6 years at Pixar Animation Studios where he was lead engineer for the studio’s in-house animation system. This work involved the design and implementation of various APIs to support several Academy Award-winning and nominated films, such as "Finding Nemo", "The Incredibles", "Cars", "Ratatouille", and "Wall-E."

Dr. Reddy currently works for Linden Lab on the Second Life Viewer, an online 3D virtual world that has been used by over 16 million users around the world. His work is currently focused on a radical redesign of the Second Life Viewer, putting in place a suite of robust APIs to enable extensibility and scriptability.

Affiliations and Expertise

CEO, Code Reddy

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  • Luisa G. Mon May 14 2018

    Wonderful book

    It is a well written and well organized book. The virtue of this book is that it is really focused on the title topic, it is easy to understand and a pleasant reading.