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C++ Language Reference

This reference explains the C++ programming language as implemented in Microsoft Visual C++. The organization is based on The Annotated C++ Reference Manual by Margaret Ellis and Bjarne Stroustrup and on the ANSI/ISO C++ International Standard (ISO/IEC FDIS 14882). Microsoft-specific implementations of C++ language features are included.

See the following tables to quickly find a keyword or operator:

In This Section

  • Component Extensions for Runtime Platforms
    Reference section for syntax that lets you target the common language runtime.

  • Compatibility and Compliance Issues in Visual C++
    Information about where Visual C++ does not agree with the C++ standard, and breaking changes in the compiler.

  • Lexical Conventions
    Fundamental lexical elements of a C++ program: tokens, comments, operators, keywords, punctuators, literals. Also, file translation, operator precedence/associativity.

  • Basic Concepts
    Scope, linkage, program startup and termination, storage classes, and types.

  • Standard Conversions
    Type conversions between built-in, or "fundamental," types. Also, arithmetic conversions and conversions among pointer, reference, and pointer-to-member types.

  • Expressions
    Types and semantics of expressions, reference topics on operators, casting and casting operators, run-time type information.

  • Lambda Expressions
    A programming technique that implicitly defines a function object class and constructs a function object of that class type.

  • Statements
    Expression, null, compound, selection, iteration, jump, and declaration statements.

  • Declarations
    Storage-class specifiers, function definitions, initializations, enumerations, class, struct, and union declarations, and typedef declarations. Also, inline functions, const keyword, namespaces.

  • Declarators
    The portion of a declaration statement that names an object, type, or function. Abstract declarators, type names, initializers, function declarations and definitions, arrays, references.

  • Classes, Structures, and Unions
    Introduction to classes, structures, and unions. Also, member functions, data members, bit fields, this pointer, nested classes.

  • Derived Classes
    Single and multiple inheritance, virtual functions, multiple base classes, abstract classes, scope rules. Also, the __super and __interface keywords.

  • Member-Access Control
    Controlling access to class members: public, private, and protected keywords. Friend functions and classes.

  • Special Member Functions
    Special functions unique to class types: constructors, destructors, conversion functions, assignment operator, operator new and operator delete functions.

  • Overloading
    Overloaded functions, declaration matching, argument matching. Also, overloaded operators, rules for operator overloading.

  • Exception Handling
    C++ exception handling, structured exception handling (SEH), keywords used in writing exception handling statements.

  • Assertion and User-Supplied Messages
    #error directive, the static_assert keyword, the assert macro.

  • Templates
    Template specifications, function templates, class templates, typename keyword, templates vs. macros, templates and smart pointers.

  • Event Handling
    Declaring events and event handlers.

  • Microsoft-Specific Modifiers
    Modifiers specific to Microsoft C++. Memory addressing, calling conventions, naked functions, extended storage-class attributes (__declspec), __w64.

  • Inline Assembler
    Using assembly language and C++ in __asm blocks.

  • Compiler COM Support
    A reference to Microsoft-specific classes and global functions used to support COM types.

  • Grammar Summary
    The grammar for Microsoft extensions to C++.