The introduction to On To C++ follows. Additional information about this book, along with access to software, is available via

How On To C++ Teaches You C++

The purpose of this book is to help you learn the essentials of C++ programming. In this section, you learn why you should know C++ and how this book is organized.
The C++ programming language is related to C. Because ++ is C's increment operator, and because the developers of C++ viewed C++ as an incremental augmentation of C, rather than as a completely different language, they decided to use C and ++ in C++'s name.
In the vernacular of programming, an object is a packet of information stored in a chunk of computer memory. Every object is associated with a data type, and the data type determines what can be done to an object. All programming languages have built-in data types, such as the integer data type and the character data type.
An object-oriented programming language encourages you to design programs around data types and data-type hierarchies that you define yourself. Typically, you define data types and data-type hierarchies so that you can describe individual nails, horseshoes, horses, kingdoms, or whatever else happens to come up naturally in your application. In contrast, procedure-oriented programming languages encourage you to think in terms of procedures, instead of in terms of data types and data-type hierarchies. In this book, you learn more about what object-oriented means and why many programmers prefer object-oriented languages. For now, it suffices to know that C++ is an object-oriented programming language, whereas most other programming languages are procedure-oriented programming languages.
C++ became a popular object-oriented programming language because its parent language, C, was already popular. C, in turn, became popular by virtue of attractive characteristics, such as the following:
There are two principal reasons to learn C++: Also, because C++ is the most widely used object-oriented programming language, you often hear programmers debate the merits of other object-oriented languages in terms of advantages and disadvantages relative to C++.
Four principles determined this introductory book's organization and style:
To get you up and running in C++ quickly, the sections in this book generally supply you with the most useful approach to each programming need, be it to display characters on your screen, to define a new function, or to read information from a file.
To answer your basic questions explicitly, this book is divided into parts that generally focus on one issue, which is plainly announced in the title of the section. Accordingly, you see titles such as the following:
To encourage you to develop a personal library of solutions to standard programming problems, this book introduces many useful, productivity-increasing, general-purpose, templatelike patterns---sometimes called cliches by experienced programmers---that you can fill in to achieve particular-purpose goals. Cliches are introduced because learning to program involves more than learning to use programming-language primitives, just as learning to speak a human language involves more than learning to use vocabulary words.
To deepen your understanding of the art of good programming practice, this book emphasizes the value of such ideas as data abstraction and procedure abstraction, along with principles such as the explicit-representation principle, the no-duplication principle, the local-view principle, the look-up principle, the need-to-know principle, and the keep-it-simple principle.
In this book, single-idea segments, analogous to slides, are arranged in sections that are analogous to slide shows. The segments come in several varieties: basic segments explain essential ideas; sidetrip segments introduce interesting, but skippable, ideas; practice segments provide opportunities to experiment with new ideas; and highlights segments summarize important points.
Finally, the book develops a simple, yet realistic C++ program, which you see in many versions as your understanding of the language increases. In its ultimate version, the program reads information from a file describing a railroad train, computes the load-bearing volume of each box car and tank car using formulas drawn from descriptions of boxes and cylinders, and displays a car-by-car report. Programs similar to the one developed can help you to manage a railroad, either model or real.