C — programming languages in a nutshell

11 October 2021

The C language is the oldest and most popular language used by programmers. It is also a structured language that does not need object-oriented programming, although object-oriented coding is possible in it. However, it is far from how it is used in object-oriented languages. Lots of languages ​​like C ++, Java, JavaScript, Go, Rust, Python, Swift borrow a lot of features from him.


The use of the C language

C is most often used primarily for low-level tasks, such as creating programs for systems or microcontrollers. The reason is that among the high-level languages, ​​it is closest to the computer. One might be tempted to say that the C language is somewhere in the middle, because its hardware abstraction level is much lower than in popular languages ​​such as Python or Java. In turn, assembly language is closer to hardware, and machine languages ​​are closest.

C is used in library code as a common language whose function can be called by other languages, and it is for this reason that libraries created in C can be used in another language. It can practically function on any hardware architecture, as long as an appropriate compiler is properly developed. C was used to do i.a. kernels (or parts of them) of operating systems such as Windows, Mac, Android Windows Phone, Linux, database systems, programming library for creating OpenGl graphics or the popular graphics program Gimp.

C is light and efficient, which means that it can function in any built-in system, from household appliances to radio, it can also be found on the dashboard of your own car, automatic transmission, air conditioning and traction control.


What does learning this language look like?

C is not an easy language to learn. Special care should be taken to properly manage memory, as this can lead to a lot of errors, and you need to understand what data and pointers are, because not much can be done without them. A lot of attention should also be paid to debugging the code, as certain bugs cause incorrect overwriting of memory blocks and create problems that will be virtually unidentifiable. In the rest of the available languages, detecting such an error is quite easy by handling exceptions, which is not found in C, so it is important to prevent errors and verify the values ​​that the functions return.

C as a typed language must have the type of stored data entered for each variable, thanks to which the code is easier to operate, understand and maintain, and any errors will be caught during compilation. You might get the impression that C requires the user to do certain things that other languages ​​do on their own, but that’s because C is all about efficiency. So if you want to program in C, a good understanding of computer architecture and operating systems will be essential.

C is the oldest and most common programming language

The language we are dealing with today was created about 40 years ago and is still at the peak of popularity, and there is no indication that this will change. Its last version of C17 appeared about 3 years ago, and while many new languages ​​are better than C in some areas, it probably won’t make C go away in disgrace and oblivion, as it is still the most common low-level language.

Nowadays, programmers focus on languages ​​that support object-oriented programming and those that make coding faster, so C is not a very good choice for general use, but it is worth getting acquainted with, because it is still in specific areas, and the secrets the studies you explore will not go to waste, especially if you are considering learning C ++. The C language is faster than the interpreted languages, such as Perl or Python, which gives the possibility of performing complex operations regardless of the time limit needed to perform a given operation, but each programmer and other user requires their tools to work quickly and efficiently.


The advantages of the C language can be summarized in several points:

  1. Speed ​​— Complex operations can be performed with large timeouts.
  2. Libraries and built-in functions — the programmer can supplement libraries with their own functions, the language has a simple syntax, and its strength lies in the built-in and library functions.
  3. Portability — C programs can be opened on a variety of hardware architectures using only the appropriate compiler.
  4. Versatility of application — it has been used to create embedded systems, supercomputers, microcontrollers and operating systems.
  5. Popularity — Used for over 30 years and has many uses through libraries, providing ready-made solutions to many problems.

In summary, C is by far the most common programming language, mainly because it can be found in most devices we use every day.

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