In today’s programming tutorial, we will look at the advantages of choosing C# and the .NET framework as your coding language of choice. We will follow up with another tutorial on the disadvantages of C# as well.
What is C#?
C# – you can pronounce it as “See Sharp” – is an object-oriented, type-safe programming language that runs on the .NET Framework. The phrase “type-safe” means that the data types in C# are only able to interact through the use of protocols defined by the type itself. In simpler terms, in C#, developers cannot treat a string type as though it were an integer type, and vice versa. This is a pivotal feature of certain programming languages that helps prevent errors that occur when one data type is (wrongly) used as though it were another.
Object-oriented programming (OOP) is a programming paradigm that use the concept of objects and classes to structure programs for better readability, maintainability, and to reduce errors. The subject of OOP is too complicated to be explained here, but we do have a great guide on C# Object Oriented Programming for Beginners that defines the principles of object oriented programming in great detail.
What is .NET?
.NET (pronounced “Dot Net”) is often confused as a programming language, when, in reality, it is a framework or (more aptly put) virtual execution system that consists of the common language runtime (CLR) and a group of class libraries that support functions within the framework. The common language infrastructure (CLI) is a standard used by the CLR to ensure that programming languages and libraries are compatible.
Other languages that run in the .NET environment include ASP (ASP.NET), Visual Basic (Visual Basic.NET), and F# (F#.NET). You will commonly see ASP.NET and C# used side-by-side in software development.
What are the Advantages of Programming in C#?
C# has a number of benefits for developers, regardless of their skill-level or experience as a programmer. We highlight several of these in the following section.
C# is Object-Oriented
As stated, C#, since its inception, was intended to be a object oriented programming language. In OOP, programmers can easily define the structure (and type) of data and group them into objects, which are created from classes (think of classes as a blueprint and objects as the things you make from those blueprints). This grouping of data makes it easier to develop applications, maintain applications, and reuse code. It also makes code easier to fix and less prone to errors.
C# is Part of the C-Family of Languages
C# has a long history, having been in use for over two decades. Add to that the programming languages lineage, and you can start to see that C# is a very reliable – and well-maintained – language that developers and software development organizations can depend on.
One key feature of C# is known as interoperability, meaning it supports other features of C-family languages (ie; you can use them in conjunction with one another). The C-family of programming languages include such heavyweights as C, C++, and Java.
You can learn more about C++ by reading the tutorials in our C++ programming section.
You can learn more Java by visiting the Java programming section on our sister site.
In languages like C, managing memory falls into the hands of the developer, which can be a bit of a burden, as the coder needs to remember to account for memory cleanup and account for the management of memory resources – a process known as garbage collection. Without the proper allocation of memory resources, an application’s performance can be affected, leading to slow software, errors, and software crashes.
C# removes this burden from the developer in the form of a built-in garbage collector – also known as GC. The garbage collector manages memory by keeping tabs on unused objects and works to free memory when it is no longer needed automatically, so the coder does not need to worry about it. In general, the purpose of the garbage collector is to manage unused objects, clean memory, and allocate the memory to new objects once the old objects no longer require it.
One note: even with a garbage collector, C# developers still need to account for the possibility of memory leaks. You can learn more about memory leaks by reading our tutorial: Best Practices for Memory Leaks in C#.
Support and Documentation
A huge perk of learning how to program in C# revolves around its documentation and support. C# is maintained and developed by Microsoft, who regularly put out new releases that update features to the language. This support and continued development of the language means that the language is not going anywhere anytime soon and corporations will continue to use C# for the foreseeable future. This means job security and an audience for the programs and applications you create in C#.
The longevity of C# also means that the language has been thoroughly tested and patched, making it very secure. That same longevity means it is also well-documented, with volumes of books, tutorials, and how-to guides existing in the world – not to mention Microsoft’s own knowledgebase, which contributes tutorials in written and video form.
Finally, the longevity has bred a large user base, meaning their are plenty of C# programmers in the world who can help you learn the language or troubleshoot your code if you run into a problem. Forums, like our own forums.codeguru.com, also exist where developers can interact with one another to learn code or discuss the nuances of the popular programming language.
C# is Cross-Platform
Another advantage of C# is the fact that the programming language is cross-platform. This is a fancy way of saying that, if you create an application in C#, it can run on any operating system or platform, including Apple, iOS, Windows, Android, or in the cloud.
C# is a Structured Programming Language
In addition to being an object-oriented and type-safe programming language, C# is also a structured programming language. As the name might imply, this means that programs written in C# are written in a logical, structured manner – broken into small modules that are known as procedures and functions. This structuring of code makes the code easier to read, understand, maintain, debug, and run more efficiently.
Final Thoughts on the Advantages of C#
In the next part of this tutorial series, we will look at some of the disadvantages of C# and some of the areas the language excels at and does not excel in.