So, I've been reading through and it appears that the Boost libraries get used a lot in practice (not at my shop, though). Why is this? and what makes it so wonderful?
Boost is used so extensively because:
From the home page:
"...one of the most highly regarded and expertly designed C++ library projects in the world." — Herb Sutter and Andrei Alexandrescu, C++ Coding Standards
"Item 55: Familiarize yourself with Boost." — Scott Meyers, Effective C++, 3rd Ed.
"The obvious solution for most programmers is to use a library that provides an elegant and efficient platform independent to needed services. Examples are BOOST..." — Bjarne Stroustrup, Abstraction, libraries, and efficiency in C++
So, it's a range of widely used and accepted libraries, but why would you need it?
If you need: