Beginners in C++ will never know how easy life can get without a bit of knowledge of the Standard Template Library. Many of us who have a bit of grounding in Java realise how the Java API makes lives easier for Java programmers and how just a few lines of code achieves quite complex tasks.
Well, the C++ counterpart can be it's Standard Template Library. It provides C++ programmers with a comprehensive set of efficiently implemented tools and facilities that can be used for most types of applications.
The STL is the nucleus of the C++ standard library, providing the standard containers and algorithms, and the framework for their use and their extension with user-defined containers and algorithms
STL is basically a C++ library of container classes, algorithms, and iterators; it provides many of the basic algorithms and data structures of computer science. The STL is a generic library, meaning that its components are heavily parameterized: almost every component in the STL is a template. You should make sure that you understand how templates work in C++ before you use the STL.
The following is an excellent Documentation of STL :
Books about the STL and generic programming
Effective STL: 50 Specific Ways to Improve Your Use of the Standard Template Library by Scott Meyers, Addison Wesley, 2001 ISBN 0-201-74962-9
STL for C++ Programmers, by Leen Ammeraal. John Wiley, 1996. ISBN 0-471-97181-2.
Generic Programming and the STL, by Matthew Austern. Addison-Wesley, 1998. ISBN 0-201-30956-4.
Designing Components with the C++ STL, by Ulrich Breymann. Addison Wesley Longman, 1998. ISBN 0-201-17816-8.
Data Structures in C++ Using the Standard Template Library, by Timothy Budd. Addison-Wesley, 1997.
The STL Primer, by Graham Glass and Brett Schuchert. Prentice-Hall, 1996. ISBN 0134549767
The C++ Standard Library - A Tutorial and Reference, by Nicolai Josuttis. Addison Wesley Longman, 1999. ISBN 0-201-37926-0. (English translation of Die C++-Standardbibliothek.)
STL Tutorial and Reference Guide, by David Musser and Atul Saini. Addison-Wesley, 1996. ISBN 0-201-63398-1.
C++ Programmer's Guide to the Standard Template Library, by Mark Nelson. IDG Books, 1995. ISBN 1-56884-314-3. (No longer in print.)
The Standard Template Library, by P. J. Plauger, Alexander Stepanov, Meng Lee, and David Musser. Prentice-Hall. ISBN 0-13-437633-1. (forthcoming)
Using the STL, by Robert Robson. Springer-Verlag, 1998.
STL Programming from the Ground Up, by Herbert Schildt. Osborne McGraw-Hill, 1999.
Once you are into STL .... you will never look back ...