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In programming, memory leaks are a common issue, and it occurs when a computer uses memory but does not give it back to the operating system. Experienced programmers have the ability to diagnose a leak based on the symptoms. Some believe every undesired increase in memory usage is a memory leak, but this is not an accurate representation of a leak. Certain leaks only run for a short time and are virtually undetectable.

Memory Leak Consequences

Applications that suffer severe memory leaks will eventually exceed the memory resulting in a severe slowdown or a termination of the application.

How to Protect Code from Memory Leaks?

Preventing memory leaks in the first place is more convenient than trying to locate the leak later. To do this, you can use defensive programming techniques such as smart pointers for C++.  A smart pointer is safer than a raw pointer because it provides augmented behavior that raw pointers do not have. This includes garbage collection and checking for nulls.

If you are going to use a raw pointer, avoid operations that are dangerous for specific contexts. This means pointer arithmetic and pointer copying. Smart pointers use a reference count for the object being referred to. Once the reference count reaches zero, the excess goes into garbage collection. The most commonly used smart pointer is shared_ptr from the TR1 extensions of the C++ standard library.

Static Analysis

The second approach to memory leaks is referred to as static analysis and attempts to detect errors in your source-code. CodeSonar is one of the effective tools for detection. It provides checkers for the Power of Ten coding rules, and it is especially competent at procedural analysis. However, some might find it lagging for bigger code bases.

How to Handle a Memory Leak

For some memory leaks, the only solution is to read through the code to find and correct the error. Another one of the common approaches to C++ is to use RAII, which an acronym for Resource Acquisition Is Initialization. This approach means associating scoped objects using the acquired resources, which automatically releases the resources when the objects are no longer within scope. RAII has the advantage of knowing when objects exist and when they do not. This gives it a distinct advantage over garbage collection. Regardless, RAII is not always recommended because some situations require ordinary pointers to manage raw memory and increase performance. Use it with caution.

The Most Serious Leaks

Urgency of a leak depends on the situation, and where the leak has occurred in the operating system. Additionally, it becomes more urgent if the leak occurs where the memory is limited such as in embedded systems and portable devices.

To protect code from memory leaks, people have to stay vigilant and avoid codes that could result in a leak. Memory leaks continue until someone turns the system off, which makes the memory available again, but the slow process of a leak can eventually prejudice a machine that normally runs correctly.

 

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The Five Principles of Performance

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Straight up and full disclosure. I'm prejudiced. As a research assignment, the heading is a joke. I'll give you the answer in two words, and then tell you why.

How does HTML 5 compare with flash? Answer: it doesn't.

Lest you think I dislike Adobe's Flash, let's put the cards on the table. I loved Flash. Long before Adobe was Adobe, they had a competitor called Macromedia. Adobe bought that firm. That made my life simpler. I only had to work with one vendor.

Flash was a pretty compelling solution. I used it to mimic operations in Windows to prepare people for the CompTIA exams. The only bugaboo was that dang right-click stuff. A little bit of code from the Microsoft Visual Studio .Net let me flip the left and right mouse buttons so that the right mouse button instead of controlling the Flash player, emulated doing a right-click in the Windows operating system.

The original article was posted by Michael Veksler on Quora

A very well known fact is that code is written once, but it is read many times. This means that a good developer, in any language, writes understandable code. Writing understandable code is not always easy, and takes practice. The difficult part, is that you read what you have just written and it makes perfect sense to you, but a year later you curse the idiot who wrote that code, without realizing it was you.

The best way to learn how to write readable code, is to collaborate with others. Other people will spot badly written code, faster than the author. There are plenty of open source projects, which you can start working on and learn from more experienced programmers.

Readability is a tricky thing, and involves several aspects:

  1. Never surprise the reader of your code, even if it will be you a year from now. For example, don’t call a function max() when sometimes it returns the minimum().
  2. Be consistent, and use the same conventions throughout your code. Not only the same naming conventions, and the same indentation, but also the same semantics. If, for example, most of your functions return a negative value for failure and a positive for success, then avoid writing functions that return false on failure.
  3. Write short functions, so that they fit your screen. I hate strict rules, since there are always exceptions, but from my experience you can almost always write functions short enough to fit your screen. Throughout my carrier I had only a few cases when writing short function was either impossible, or resulted in much worse code.
  4. Use descriptive names, unless this is one of those standard names, such as i or it in a loop. Don’t make the name too long, on one hand, but don’t make it cryptic on the other.
  5. Define function names by what they do, not by what they are used for or how they are implemented. If you name functions by what they do, then code will be much more readable, and much more reusable.
  6. Avoid global state as much as you can. Global variables, and sometimes attributes in an object, are difficult to reason about. It is difficult to understand why such global state changes, when it does, and requires a lot of debugging.
  7. As Donald Knuth wrote in one of his papers: “Early optimization is the root of all evil”. Meaning, write for readability first, optimize later.
  8. The opposite of the previous rule: if you have an alternative which has similar readability, but lower complexity, use it. Also, if you have a polynomial alternative to your exponential algorithm (when N > 10), you should use that.

Use standard library whenever it makes your code shorter; don’t implement everything yourself. External libraries are more problematic, and are both good and bad. With external libraries, such as boost, you can save a lot of work. You should really learn boost, with the added benefit that the c++ standard gets more and more form boost. The negative with boost is that it changes over time, and code that works today may break tomorrow. Also, if you try to combine a third-party library, which uses a specific version of boost, it may break with your current version of boost. This does not happen often, but it may.

Don’t blindly use C++ standard library without understanding what it does - learn it. You look at std::vector::push_back() documentation at it tells you that its complexity is O(1), amortized. What does that mean? How does it work? What are benefits and what are the costs? Same with std::map, and with std::unordered_map. Knowing the difference between these two maps, you’d know when to use each one of them.

Never call new or delete directly, use std::make_unique and [cost c++]std::make_shared[/code] instead. Try to implement usique_ptr, shared_ptr, weak_ptr yourself, in order to understand what they actually do. People do dumb things with these types, since they don’t understand what these pointers are.

Every time you look at a new class or function, in boost or in std, ask yourself “why is it done this way and not another?”. It will help you understand trade-offs in software development, and will help you use the right tool for your job. Don’t be afraid to peek into the source of boost and the std, and try to understand how it works. It will not be easy, at first, but you will learn a lot.

Know what complexity is, and how to calculate it. Avoid exponential and cubic complexity, unless you know your N is very low, and will always stay low.

Learn data-structures and algorithms, and know them. Many people think that it is simply a wasted time, since all data-structures are implemented in standard libraries, but this is not as simple as that. By understanding data-structures, you’d find it easier to pick the right library. Also, believe it or now, after 25 years since I learned data-structures, I still use this knowledge. Half a year ago I had to implemented a hash table, since I needed fast serialization capability which the available libraries did not provide. Now I am writing some sort of interval-btree, since using std::map, for the same purpose, turned up to be very very slow, and the performance bottleneck of my code.

Notice that you can’t just find interval-btree on Wikipedia, or stack-overflow. The closest thing you can find is Interval tree, but it has some performance drawbacks. So how can you implement an interval-btree, unless you know what a btree is and what an interval-tree is? I strongly suggest, again, that you learn and remember data-structures.

These are the most important things, which will make you a better programmer. The other things will follow.

No industry is as global as software development.  Pervasive networking means that software developers can, and do, work from anywhere. This has led many businesses to hiring development subcontractors in other countries, aiming to find good development talent at lower prices, or with fewer hassles on entry into the US.

While this is an ongoing and dynamic equilibrium, there are compelling reasons for doing software development in the United States, or using a hybrid model where some parts of the task are parceled out to foreign contractors and some are handled locally.

Development Methodologies

The primary reason for developing software overseas is cost reduction. The primary argument against overseas software development is slower development cycles. When software still used the "waterfall" industrial process for project management (where everything is budgeted in terms of time at the beginning of the project), offshoring was quite compelling. As more companies emulate Google and Facebook's process of "release early, update often, and refine from user feedback," an increasing premium has been put on software teams that are small enough to be agile (indeed, the development process is called Agile Development), and centralized enough, in terms of time zones, that collaborators can work together. This has made both Google and Facebook leaders in US-based software development, though they both still maintain teams of developers in other countries tasked with specific projects.

Localization For Americans

The United States is still one of the major markets for software development, and projects aimed at American customers needs to meet cultural norms. This applies to any country, not just the U.S. This puts a premium on software developers who aren't just fluent in English, but native speakers, and who understand American culture. While it's possible (and even likely) to make server-side software, and management utilities that can get by with terse, fractured English, anything that's enterprise-facing or consumer-facing requires more work on polish and presentation than is practical using outsourced developers. There is a reason why the leaders in software User Interface development are all US-based companies, and that's because consumer-focused design is still an overwhelming US advantage.

Ongoing Concerns

The primary concern for American software development is talent production. The US secondary education system produces a much smaller percentage of students with a solid math and engineering background, and while US universities lead the world in their computer science and engineering curricula, slightly under half of all of those graduates are from foreign countries, because American students don't take the course loads needed to succeed in them. Software development companies in the United States are deeply concerned about getting enough engineers and programmers out of the US university system. Some, such as Google, are trying to get programmers hooked on logical problem solving at a young age, with the Summer of Code programs. Others, like Microsoft, offer scholarships for computer science degrees.

Overall, the changes in project management methodologies mean that the US is the current leader in software development, and so long as the primary market for software remains English and American-centric, that's going to remain true. That trend is far from guaranteed, and in the world of software, things can change quickly.

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A successful career as a software developer or other IT professional requires a solid understanding of software development processes, design patterns, enterprise application architectures, web services, security, networking and much more. The progression from novice to expert can be a daunting endeavor; this is especially true when traversing the learning curve without expert guidance. A common experience is that too much time and money is wasted on a career plan or application due to misinformation.

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