As a programmer, you’re motivated to master the most popular languages that will give you an edge in your career. There’s a vast number of programming languages that you can learn, but how do you know which is the most useful? If you know C and C++, do you need to learn C# as well? How similar is C# to Java? Does it become more comfortable for you to learn C# if you already know Java?
Every developer and wannabe programmer asks these types of questions.
So let us explore C# programming: how it evolved as an extension of C and why you need to learn it as a part of the Master’s Program in integrated DevOps for server-side execution.
What is C#?
C# is a modern object-oriented programming language developed in 2000 by Anders Hejlsberg, the principal designer and lead architect at Microsoft. It is pronounced as "C-Sharp," inspired by the musical notation “♯” which stands for a note with a slightly higher pitch. As it’s considered an incremental compilation of the C++ language, the name C “sharp” seemed most appropriate. The sharp symbol, however, has been replaced by the keyboard friendly “#” as a suffix to “C” for purposes of programming.
Although the code is very similar to C++, C# is newer and has grown fast with extensive support from Microsoft. The fact that it’s so similar to Java syntactically helps explain why it has emerged as one of the most popular programming languages today.
An Introduction to C# Programming
C# is a general-purpose, object-oriented programming language that is structured and easy to learn. It runs on Microsoft’s .Net Framework and can be compiled on a variety of computer platforms. As the syntax is simple and easy to learn, developers familiar with C, C++, or Java have found a comfort zone within C#.
C# is a boon for developers who want to build a wide range of applications on the .NET Framework—Windows applications, Web applications, and Web services—in addition to building mobile apps, Windows Store apps, and enterprise software. It is thus considered a powerful programming language and features in every developer’s cache of tools.
Although first released in 2002, when it was introduced with .NET Framework 1.0, the C# language has evolved a great deal since then. The most recent version is C# 8.0, available in preview as part of Visual Studio. To get access to all of the new language features, you would need to install the latest preview version of .NET Core 3.0.
The C# Environment
You need the .NET Framework and an IDE (integrated development environment) to work with the C# language.
The .NET Framework
The .NET Framework platform of the Windows OS is required to write web and desktop-based applications using not only C# but also Visual Basic and Jscript, as the platform provides language interoperability. Besides, the .Net Framework allows C# to communicate with any of the other common languages, such as C++, Jscript, COBOL, and so on.
Microsoft provides various IDEs for C# programming:
The C# source code files can be written using a basic text editor, like Notepad, and compiled using the command-line compiler of the .NET Framework.
Alternative open-source versions of the .Net Framework can work on other operating systems as well. For instance, the Mono has a C# compiler and runs on several operating systems, including Linux, Mac, Android, BSD, iOS, Windows, Solaris, and UNIX. This brings enhanced development tools to the developer.
As C# is part of the .Net Framework platform, it has access to its enormous library of codes and components, such as Common Language Runtime (CLR), the .Net Framework Class Library, Common Language Specification, Common Type System, Metadata and Assemblies, Windows Forms, ASP.Net and ASP.Net AJAX, Windows Workflow Foundation (WF), Windows Communication Foundation (WCF), and LINQ.
C# and Java
C# and Java are high-level programming languages that share several similarities (as well as many differences). They are both object-oriented languages much influenced by C++. But while C# is suitable for application development in the Microsoft ecosystem from the front, Java is considered best for client-side web applications. Also, while C# has many tools for programming, Java has a larger arsenal of tools to choose from in IDEs and Text Editors.
C# is used for virtual reality projects like games, mobile, and web applications. It is built specifically for Microsoft platforms and several non-Microsoft-based operating systems, like the Mono Project that works with Linux and OS X. Java is used for creating messaging applications and developing web-based and enterprise-based applications in open-source ecosystems.
Both C# and Java support arrays. However, each language uses them differently. In C#, arrays are a specialization of the system; in Java, they are a direct specialization of the object.
The C# programming language executes on the CLR. The source code is interpreted into bytecode, which is further compiled by the CLR. Java runs on any platform with the assistance of JRE (Java Runtime Environment). The written source code is first compiled into bytecode and then converted into machine code to be executed on a JRE.
C# and C++
Although C# and C++ are both C-based languages with similar code, there are some differences. For one, C# is considered a component-oriented programming language, while C++ is a partial object-oriented language. Also, while both languages are compiled languages, C# compiles to CLR and is interpreted by.NET, but C++ compiles to machine code. The size of binaries in C# is much larger than in C++.
Other differences between the two include the following:
- C# gives compiler errors and warnings, but C++ doesn’t support warnings, which may cause damage to the OS.
- C# runs in a virtual machine for automatic memory management. C++ requires you to manage memory manually.
- C# can create Windows, .NET, web, desktop, and mobile applications, but not stand-alone apps. C++ can create server-side, stand-alone, and console applications as it can work directly with the hardware.
- C++ can be used on any platform, while C# is targeted toward Windows OS.
- Generally, C++ being faster than C#, the former is preferred for applications where performance is essential.
Features of C#
The C# programming language has many features that make it more useful and unique when compared to other languages, including:
Being object-oriented, C# allows the creation of modular applications and reusable codes, an advantage over C++. As an object-oriented language, C# makes development and maintenance easier when project size grows. It supports all three object-oriented features: data encapsulation, inheritance, interfaces, and polymorphism.
C# is a simple language with a structured approach to problem-solving. Unsafe operations, like direct memory manipulation, are not allowed.
The compilation and execution time in C# is very powerful and fast.
A Modern programming language
C# programming is used for building scalable and interoperable applications with support for modern features like automatic garbage collection, error handling, debugging, and robust security. It has built-in support for a web service to be invoked from any app running on any platform.
Arrays and objects are zero base indexed and bound checked. There is an automatic checking of the overflow of types. The C# type safety instances support robust programming.
Language interoperability of C# maximizes code reuse for the efficiency of the development process. C# programs can work upon almost anything as a program can call out any native API.
Its unified type system enables developers to extend the type system simply and easily for consistent behavior.
C# is automatically updateable. Its versioning support enables complex frameworks to be developed and evolved.
C# supports component-oriented programming through the concepts of properties, methods, events, and attributes for self-contained and self-describing components of functionality for robust and scalable applications.
Structured Programming Language
The structured design and modularization in C# break a problem into parts, using functions for easy implementation to solve significant problems.
C# has a standard library with many inbuilt functions for easy and fast development.
Prerequisites for Learning C#
- Basic knowledge of C or C++ or any programming language or programming fundamentals.
- Additionally, the OOP concept makes for a short learning curve of C#.
Advantages of C#
There are many advantages to the C# language that makes it a useful programming language compared to other languages like Java, C, or C++. These include:
- Being an object-oriented language, C# allows you to create modular, maintainable applications and reusable codes
- Familiar syntax
- Easy to develop as it has a rich class of libraries for smooth implementation of functions
- Enhanced integration as an application written in .NET will integrate and interpret better when compared to other NET technologies
- As C# runs on CLR, it makes it easy to integrate with components written in other languages
- It’s safe, with no data loss as there is no type-conversion so that you can write secure codes
- The automatic garbage collection keeps the system clean and doesn’t hang it during execution
- As your machine has to install the .NET Framework to run C#, it supports cross-platform
- Strong memory backup prevents memory leakage
- Programming support of the Microsoft ecosystem makes development easy and seamless
- Low maintenance cost, as C# can develop iOS, Android, and Windows Phone native apps
- The syntax is similar to C, C++, and Java, which makes it easier to learn and work with C#
- Useful as it can develop iOS, Android, and Windows Phone native apps with the Xamarin Framework
- C# is the most powerful programming language for the .NET Framework
- Fast development as C# is open source steered by Microsoft with access to open source projects and tools on Github, and many active communities contributing to the improvement
What Can C Sharp Do for You?
C# can be used to develop a wide range of:
- Windows client applications
- Windows libraries and components
- Windows services
- Web applications
- Native iOS and Android mobile apps
- Azure cloud applications and services
- Gaming consoles and gaming systems
- Video and virtual reality games
- Interoperability software like SharePoint
- Enterprise software
- Backend services and database programs
- AI and ML applications
- Distributed applications
- Hardware-level programming
- Virus and malware software
- GUI-based applications
- IoT devices
- Blockchain and distributed ledger technology
Who Should Learn the C# Programming Language and Why?
C# is one of the most popular programming languages as it can be used for a variety of applications: mobile apps, game development, and enterprise software. What’s more, the C# 8.0 version is packed with several new features and enhancements to the C# language that can change the way developers write their C# code. The most important new features available are ‘null reference types,’ enhanced ‘pattern matching,’ and ‘async streams’ that help you to write more reliable and readable code.
As you’re exposed to the fundamental programming concepts of C# in this course, you can work on projects that open the doors for you as a Full Stack Java Developer. So, upskill and master the C# language for a faster career trajectory and salary scope.