Consider the task of designing a library of reusable components — such as the Java Collection Framework or the C++ Standard Template Library (STL) — that are designed for use by programs that represent and manipulate complex data. Although (obviously!) you could use either Java or C++ to build such components, aspects of the language design would influence many detailed decisions that you would need to make in the design of the components, which in turn would affect users of the components. Often-cited differences relate to memory management, run-time checking, and language complexity, although there are many more.

  • Memory management: Java has a built-in memory manager; programmers need never worry about when to free objects that are no longer needed, which means that memory leaks and illegal pointers don't occur. On the other hand, C++ provides the programmer with fine-grained control over memory allocation and de-allocation, which means that memory can be used more efficiently and that performance of programs can be optimised.
  • Run-time checking: Java's run-time checking for common errors such as out-of-bounds array indexes and null pointers means it can report information that helps programmers locate and fix problems, but the extra checks slow the program. Equivalent C++ code will run faster, but bugs will often be harder to find.
  • Complexity: C++ provides full support for both object-oriented and procedural programming paradigms, including multiple inheritance and operator overloading, which means that it can be used to build components that are fully compliant with built-in types. On the other hand, these features can be approximated using Java's simpler object model; often, the simpler approach is more than sufficient and results in code that is easier to write and debug.

Which language do you think is more appropriate for building a reusable component library? If you were charged with making a recommendation, which way would you lean? Write an essay presenting your opinion and arguing the case. Your essay should clearly present and defend your position; the reader should be in no doubt what you believe and why you believe it. To be convincing, you’ll need to back up your opinions with examples and citations. Of course, you must make sure that you acknowledge any material that you use or reference in your report. Use an established convention, such as the Author-Date ("Harvard") system, for citations and bibliography.

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