Introduction to C# programming language: why learn by comparing with C, C++, Java

C# is designed for the Common Language Infrastructure (CLI), which describes executable code and runtime environment. This allows usage of multiple high-level languages on various computer platforms and architectures.

Common Language Runtime (CLR) is defined in the Common Language Infrastructure (CLI).

CLR is the Virtual Machine component managing the execution of programs written in languages using .NET Framework. Some of its examples include C#, F#, etc.

The .NET source code is compiled to Common Language Infrastructure (CLI). The code is executed at runtime after the CIL is converted to native code. This is done using JIT (Just-In-Compiler) compiler.

C# Definition?

C# is a general purpose object oriented programming language with multiple paradigms. It was designed for Common Language Infrastructure (CLI) in 2000 by Microsoft for its NET framework and also approved by ECMA and ISO.

C# was originally developed as C-Like Object Oriented Language (COOL) but this name was later changed to avoid any trademark issues. This language has been influenced by various languages such as Java, Pascal, C++, Eiffel etc.

C# has multiple points that make web development solutions faster as well as easier. Some of these are garbage collection, scalability support, type safety, easier type declarations etc.

History of C#

When .NET Framework was in its cradle the class libraries were created with the Simple Managed C (SMC) managed code compiler. In 1999 a group, led by Anders Hejlsberg, was formed to create a C-like Object Oriented Language that was dubbed COOL. The name was changed to C# for trademark reasons in 2000, by then the class libraries and the ASP.NET run-time had been rewritten with the new C# language.

It didn’t come as a shock to anyone when the creator of the Java language, James Gosling, insisted that C# was a copy of Java with security, reliability and productivity removed. Anders Hejlsberg retorted with that the C# design resembles C++ more than Java.

When C# 2.0 was released in 2005 the two languages went down two very different paths when implementing generics; in C# generics are implemented as first-class generic objects where as in Java generics are more like a language syntax feature.

In 2008 when C# 3.0 was released LINQ extensions was added to make it possible to code in a functional-style way using Lambda expressions, extension methods and anonymous types. LINQ with its standardized, declarative query syntax has made it much easier to query a variety of data sources such as databases, collections and xml; any source that is enumerable.

In this release it was also made possible to declare implicit variables using the var keyword which uses the assigned value to determine the data type. Once a value has been assigned the data type cannot change.

In the 2010 release of C# 4.0 dynamic late binding was introduced; dynamic objects are mainly used to call dynamic languages and unmanaged code. In cases when you want or need to use dynamic variables that are not bound to the static variable declaration of C# you can use dynamic objects that are not checked until run-time.

Optional parameters and named arguments were also introduced. When named arguments are used in conjunction with optional parameters named arguments makes it easy to omit method parameters, omited optional parameters will receive their default values.

In the C# 5.0 release in 2011 a much easier and less code heavy way of implementing asynchronous calls was introduced where you use the async and await keywords. Calling methods asynchronously means that you for instance can free up the UI when a long running task is executing, or execute methods or run loops in parallel.

A set of special parameter attributes that can aid in debug and trace scenarios were also added. The attributes CallerNameCallerFilePath and CallerLineNumber will be replaced by debug information by the C# compiler at run-time.

The unit testing framework and engine was completely rewritten to make it faster and more in sync with what was needed for Test Driven Development (TDD).

Some of the major features of C# are as follows:

1. Object Oriented Language: C# is an object oriented language. This means that development is easier if there are long codes in large projects as compared to procedure oriented programming languages.

2. Structured programming language: The programs in C# can be structured by breaking them into smaller parts using functions. This makes the program easier to understand.

3. Simple to use: It is quite simple to use C# as it has various features and functionalities. Moreover, it provides a structured approach that makes the program easier to understand.

4. Scalable language: C# is an automatically scalable as well as updatable language. The old files are regularly updated and replaced with new ones.

There are many applications that can be created using C#. Some of these are given as follows:

  1. Web applications
  2. Window applications
  3. Database applications
  4. Distributed applications
  5. Web service applications

Advantages of C#

C# is a general purpose object oriented programming language with multiple paradigms. This language has many advantages. Some of these are given as follows:

  1. One of the advantages of C# is that it provides automatic garbage collection.
  2. Pointers are not really required in C# but are optional and can still be used.
  3. Classes can be defined inside classes in C#.
  4. There is no need to use “.h” in header files.
  5. The programs are less error prone as non boolean variables cannot be used as conditions.
  6. C# has reflection capabilities i.e. it can examine as well as modify its structure at runtime.
  7. There is no need to declare functions and classes in C#.
  8. Classes and functions can be defined in any order in C#.
  9. The apps can be executed in a restricted sandbox in C#.
  10. All the variables in C# are automatically initialized to their default values before they are used.
  11. No global variables or functions exist in C# as all of them belong to the class.

Advantages of C# compared to Java

There are some advantages of C# over Java. Some of these are given as follows:

  1. C# is more efficient than Java in some cases and also runs faster.
  2. Operator overloading in C# is very useful sometimes.
  3. The Common Intermediate Language in C# is is a standard language whereas the bytecodes in Java are not.
  4. The multithreading in C# is quite simplified.
  5. Indexers in C# can be used to access objects as arrays which simplifies some problems immensely.

Advantages of C# compared to C++

C# also has some advantages over C++. Some of these are given as follows:

  1. C++ is a mixture of object oriented language and procedure oriented language while C# is a pure object oriented language.
  2. C# provides excellent support for distributed systems as compared to C++.
  3. Many functions in C# are quite easy to implement because of the diverse class library.
  4. C# is more type safe than C++.
  5. Memory leaks are not that big a problem in C# are pointers are rarely used and strictly regulated. This is quite different compared to C++.

Disadvantages of C#

C# is a general purpose object oriented programming language with multiple paradigms. It has multiple points that make web development solutions faster as well as easier. Some of these are garbage collection, scalability support, type safety, easier type declarations etc.

Some of the disadvantages of C# are given as follows:

  1. The code in C# needs to be compiled every time a change is made. This can lead to many errors or bugs if the code is not tested thoroughly each time.
  2. A .NET application needs a Windows platform to execute and this is also true for C# as it is a part of the .NET application. However, most of the companies Prefer a Linux server as it is cheaper.
  3. The older .NET frameworks are not supported by Microsoft after few upgrades to the operating system. Also, there are major costs associated with upgrades as they must be tested and approved before they can be deployed.

There are many more advantages as compared to disadvantages in C#. This is because C# can be used for web applications, windows services etc. and is also useful for scalability.

Disadvantages of C# compared to C++

Some of the disadvantages of C# as compared to C++ are given as follows:

  1. There is less flexibility in C# as compared to C++. Also, anything that is not available in the .NET framework is difficult to implement in C# as it is dependent on the .NET framework.
  2. The Windows Presentation Foundation is slow in starting. This is because the C# is slower to run. But after the program is launched, the animation is very smooth.

How is C# different from C?

C# and C are both programming languages. C is a general purpose programming language and it supports recursion, structured programming, lexical variable scope etc. C# is a general purpose object oriented programming language with features such as garbage collection, scalability support, type safety, easier type declarations etc. In general, C and C# are quite different and have more differences than similarities.

Some of the differences between C and C# are given as follows:

C C#
C is a procedural language. C# is a object oriented language.
C is a very light language and can be easily compiled. C# is interpreted into bytecode and then the Common Language Runtime manages the execution.
Manual memory management is used in C Automatic garbage collection is provided in C#.
Almost anything can be coded in C if the syntax is correct. Anything that is not available in the .NET framework is difficult to implement in C# as it is dependent on the .NET framework.
C provides a low level of abstraction. C# provides a high level of abstraction.
C provides quite a fast performance. Performance in C# is slower as compared to C.
Code in C can be created for any platform. Code in C# is only targeted towards the Windows operating system.
C is good for using in system level code as well as embedded devices. C# is good for creating mobile, desktop, web applications.

Is C# better than Java?

C# and Java are both general purpose programming languages. There are a lot of similarities as well as differences between these two languages and so choosing the correct language depends on individual discretion.

However, details about the similarities and differences of C# and Java are provided to give a better picture of these languages.

Similarities between C# and Java

Some of the similarities between C# are Java are given as follows:

  1. Multiple inheritance is not supported by C# or Java. So there is only one path from the base class to the inherited class. So no complications arise such as the diamond pattern problem.
  2. C# and Java are both type safe. This means that illegal type casting is not allowed and is caught at compile time.
  3. Automatic garbage collection is provided in both C# and Java. Because of this, there are less chances of memory leaks occurring.
  4. Interfaces are provided in both C# and Java. These are abstract classes and all methods contained in them are abstract as well.

Differences between C# and Java

Some of the differences between C# are Java are given as follows:

  1. C# is a part of the Microsoft .NET framework and is used to develop for Microsoft platforms. Java is designed by Sun Microsystems and is widely used in open-source projects.
  2. Polymorphism is implemented in C# by using the virtual and override keywords in base class and derived class. Java implements polymorphism by default.
  3. Generics are implemented in the CLI in C# and the type information is available at runtime. Java implements generics using erasures.
  4. The enum is a list of named constants in C#. In Java, enum is the named instance of a type

Is C# harder to learn than C++?

C# and C++ are both object oriented programming languages. C# is a general purpose object oriented programming language with features such as garbage collection, scalability support, type safety, easier type declarations etc. C++ is a general purpose object oriented programming language with generic programming features and low-level memory manipulation.

Since C# and C++ are two different languages, it cannot be easily said which is harder or easier to learn. Some of the differences between C++ and C# which help to make this judgement are given as follows:

C++ C#
C++ is an object oriented language. C# is an object oriented language.
C++ provides quite a fast performance. Performance in C# is slower as compared to C++.
Code in C++ can be created for any platform Code in C# is only targeted towards the Windows operating system.
C++ provides a low level of abstraction. C# provides a high level of abstraction.
Almost anything can be coded in C++ if the syntax is correct. Anything that is not available in the .NET framework is difficult to implement in C# as it is dependent on the .NET framework.
Manual memory management is used in C++. Automatic garbage collection is provided in C#.
C++ is good for using in networking, server-side applications, gaming etc. C# is good for creating mobile, desktop, web applications
C++ is a light language and can be easily compiled. C# is interpreted into bytecode and then the Common Language Runtime manages the execution.

What is the scope of C#

C# is a general purpose object oriented programming language with multiple paradigms. It was designed for Common Language Infrastructure (CLI) in 2000 by Microsoft.for its .NET framework and also approved by ECMA and ISO.

C# has immense scope especially since its .NET version was made open source recently. Moreover, C# is quite easy to learn which contributes immensely to its popularity. Moreover, it has multiple features that allow the creation of durable system components. Some of these features are:

1. Object Oriented Language: C# is an object oriented language. This means that development is easier if there are long codes in large projects as compared to procedure oriented programming languages.

2. Structured programming language: The programs in C# can be structured by breaking them into smaller parts using functions. This makes the program easier to understand.

3. Scalable language: C# is an automatically scalable as well as updatable language. The old files are regularly updated and replaced with new ones.

C# is quite a popular language as it is used for web development, mobile development etc. Also WPF, UWP, WinForms etc. can be used to create various Windows applications. Android, iOS apps can be built using the C# mobile development. In short, C# can be used to create any type of software. Some of the streams in which C# can be utilized are artificial intelligence, cloud applications, machine learning, data science etc.

Why C#?

C# is a general purpose object oriented programming language with multiple paradigms. It has multiple points that make web development solutions faster as well as easier. Some of these are garbage collection, scalability support, type safety, easier type declarations etc.

There are various reasons to utilize C#. Some of these are given as follows:

1. Popularity: C# is arguably one of the most popular languages in modern times. It is used for web development, mobile development etc. Also WPF, UWP, WinForms etc. can be used to create various Windows applications. Android, iOS apps can be built using the C# mobile development.

In short, C# can be used to create any type of software. Some of the streams in which C# can be utilized are artificial intelligence, cloud applications, machine learning, data science etc.

2. Ease of Learning: C# is quite easy to learn and can be easily understood. It can be mastered in a relatively short time, especially for those who already have some experience with programming languages. Also, C# and Java are quite similar syntactically and those who are well versed in Java can easily understand C#.

3. Pay Scale: C# programmers and developers work with C# in an application and development capacity. They work in a variety of companies with tasks such as coding, designing, testing etc. and earn accordingly

How long does it take to learn C# from scratch?

C# is a general purpose object oriented programming language. The time taken to learn this language is entirely subjective and depends on the individual learner.

If the person wishing to learn C# has no prior experience with object oriented programming concepts, then around 2 to 4 weeks are required to learn OOP concepts and then the C# language in particular.

If the person wishing to learn C# has prior experience in object oriented programming languages or C type syntax programming languages, than C# is quite easy to learn and basics can be picked up within a week.

If the person wishing to learn C# has no prior experience with programming languages at all, then anywhere from 3 months to 1 year is required to learn C#. A beginner will need to understand all the basics before venturing into the complexities of C#.

In general, any programming language cannot be totally learned as it has many nuances. So, learning a language is a lifelong process that continues as the language continues to grow.

A bit about .NET Framework

.NET framework is developed by Microsoft and it is a software framework. It runs mainly on Microsoft Windows. This framework also helped in the creation of various platforms that handled embedded devices, mobile computing, web browser plug-ins etc.

Some of the objectives that are handled by the .NET framework are given as follows:

  1. The .NET framework provides an environment that removes the various problems that arise due to interpreted or scripted environments.
  2. An object oriented programming environment is provided by the .NET framework. In this environment, the object code can be stored and executed locally. Alternatively, the code can be executed remotely.
  3. The .NET framework also provides an environment that leads to a consistent developer experience across various types of apps that may be quite different such as Web-based apps, Windows-based apps etc.
  4. There are minimal software deployment as well as versioning conflicts as a result of the execution environment provided by the .NET framework.
  5. The .NET framework is created totally based on the industry standards so that the .NET framework based code can be integrated with any other code.
  6. The .NET environment ensures the code is safely executed. This includes the code that is created by unknown parties.

Some of the applications and services that can be created using the .NET framework are given as follows:

  1. Windows Presentation Foundation apps (WPF apps)
  2. Console Apps
  3. Service Oriented Apps (using WCF)
  4. Windows GUI Apps
  5. Windows Services
  6. ASP.NET Apps
  7. Workflow-Enabled Apps (using WF)

Is Python better than C#?

Python is a general purpose programming language that is famous for its clean syntax and readable code. C# is a general purpose object oriented programming language that is type safe as well. It is similar to C language family such as C, C++, Java etc.

It is quite difficult to say which language between Python  and C# is better and choosing the correct language depends on individual discretion and current user requirements.

Some of the differences between Python and C# are provided below to help the user choose the language required.

C# Python
Support There is ample help and emergency support available in C# by paying a premium as C# operates in microsoft ecosystem. Python developers can only avail support from the Python community which is quite helpful but not as professionally supportive as in C#.
Tools Specialized tools are required for C# such as Redgate, Visual Studio .NET, Far, .NET Reflector etc. Python developers don’t use many tools apart from Vim/Emacs and standard Unix tools.
Cost C# is handled by Microsoft and provides a premium experience after some payment. Python is open source and so can be used for free.
Easy usage C# is quite complicated and more difficult as a lot of knowledge is required before starting coding in C#. Python can be easier to learn iteratively as more and more features can learned as they go on.
Performance C# is slightly better in performance than Python, however this is balances out as it is not open source. Writing and deploying code is faster in Python and it has a rapid development process.

In essence, Python is the optimal choice if high speed and performance is required in the project. It also provides smooth cross-platform development. C# is the better choice if great Microsoft integration and best performance is required.

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