C++11 and STAR coding standard commitee charges

    Greetings everyone,

    With the onset of the C++11 standard now available in
recent version of the gcc compiler, STAR needs to be serious
about approaching and integrating modern language features
into its framework.

    Historically, the STAR coding and naming convention
& standard available at
were an initial attempt made in the early 2000 to provide both
guidance to our programmers as well as helped set boundaries
and limitations in terms of the features to be used in the STAR
environment. While STAR has been rather opened in its approach
(the rule are not strict, unlike other experiment that have
for example banned the use of templates), our guidance are
rather obsolete and from an era where C++ was seen as an
extension of C. We had only a few coding style, naming and
guidance and prevented some features from being used and
reviewed those during the software peer-review process and
upon the inclusion of new code in the framework.

C++11 and its slew of new language features raise the need to
revisit our coding standard and the question of whether the
whole slew of language features are desirable or some should
be discouraged or prevented arise. Now one could raise the
question of why would a language construct would be forbidden:
a simple example would be the use of digraphs and trigraphs which
were not welcomed on STAR/C++ (but not officially  forbidden) -
it makes the code less readable and less portable. With C++11,
there may be more fundamental problems than that ... and code
clarity and readability and clarity MUST remain a core focus
during your evaluation.

In order to make a move forward, I have asked you all to serve
on committee which charges would be to

- make explicit and detailed recommendations and advices on
  what language feature and construct should be used or
  forbidden while moving to C++11 - we crucially need this
  guidance before we have C++11 fully allowed in STAR ...

- revise our coding standard and recommendations i.e. refresh
  our document to reflect modern computing practices as well as
  reflect the C++11 recommendations (banned features, context
  and validity of use of some constructs, ...).

  NB: Though, I would also request to avoid making drastic
      changes related to our naming conventions (and/or justify
      it thoroughly) as modifying our accumulation of 15 years
      of coding would be quite some work

- Make any other recommendation that would help the integration
  of new packages (do we reshape the peer review process?),
  enhance code portability and long term maintainability of our
  code as well as achieve knowledge preservation (is more
  documentation realistic? should a STAR note be required for
  simulation packages? ...)

+ Possibly but not mandatory, your work will require you
  to inform yourself of the C++11 standards - you may come
  across a "language difference primer" that would be most
  helpful as a STAR tutorial (or design one). If so, please
  do not hesitate as such document would be of great help
  to our future programmers.

    I would further like to ask Thomas to serve as the chair
of this mini-commitee and would wish to have a draft report by
December 15th if possible (opened for discussion and your time

    If any questions, please ask otherwise, I will leave
the organization of the discussion in the careful hands of
    Many thanks to have agreed to help with this topic,

--                   Dr. Jerome LAURET
                 RHIC/STAR Software and Computing project Leader
      ,,,,,      Physics Department, Brookhaven National Laboratory
     ( o o )     Bldg 510a, Upton, NY 11973

 E-mail: jlauret@bnl.gov