The Whys, Wheres, and Hows to Learning the C and C++ Languages
The C programming language was originally developed for and
implemented on the UNIX operating system by Dennis Ritchie. The C
language, which is quite simple, is not tied to any particular hardware
or system. This makes it easier for a user to write programs that will
run without many (or any) changes on practically all machines.
The C language is often called a middle-level computer language as it
combines the elements of high-level languages with the functionalism of
assembly language. C programming allows the manipulation of bits,
bytes, and addresses—giving the programmer more control over exactly how
the program will behave and more direct access to the mechanics of the
C was created, influenced, and field-tested by working programmers.
The end result is that C gives the programmer what the programmer wants.
C++ is an enhanced version of the C language. C++ includes everything
that’s part of C and adds support for object-oriented programming
(OOP). In addition, C++ also contains many improvements and features
that make it a “better C,” independent of object oriented programming.
The C++ language is actually extensible since we can define new types
in such a way that they act just like the predefined types which are
part of the standard language.
If you just use C++ as a better C, you will not be using all of its
power. Like any quality tool, C++ must be used the way it was designed
to be used to exploit its richness. Some of the new features include
encapsulation, inline function calls, overloading operators,
inheritance, and polymorphism.
Why would I want to learn C or C++?
C and C++ are still two of the most popular programming languages out
there. The syntax and concepts of C, especially, has stood the test of
time, and you can see them being carried on to other popular programming
languages, even the modern ones, such as Go
Even if you are going to build web applications or fancy web
front-end components for the rest of your life, learning C will help you
understand how software and hardware actually interact.
Besides, C and C++ are everywhere.
C in particular powers a lot more technology than we give it credit for.
On the other hand, some of your favorite software – possibly even the
web browser you are reading this article on—is built on C++. Knowing C
is a good base, but in many cases, software development will require you
to learn C++ and its paradigms.
If you want to develop software that needs to make the most out of a
computer’s performance and capabilities—high-end desktop games,
sophisticated productivity tools, or complex computationally intensive
programs, for instance—or if you just want a programming language that
lets you interact with a computer’s hardware directly, C and C++ are the
languages for you.
So, why would you not want to learn C++ or C? It’s not like
25 years ago, when you might have had to invest in a proprietary
compiler to get started—today you can certainly learn C++ free.
How can I get started with C and C++?
To get started with C or C++, what you’ll want in most cases, at the
very least, is a compiler—although nowadays you can also learn C online
by experimenting a bit with “hello world” C projects in-browser.
Compilers are programs that can be run through command-line
interfaces (CLIs). They read the entire program and convert it into
object code, which is a translation of the program source code into a
form that the computer can execute directly.
To make life easier, you can go for full-fledged IDEs that can make your experience with C or C++ even more pleasant.
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