C# is one of the most widely used programming languages in the world. It is easy to learn and is used to develop a wide array of software, including web applications, Windows apps, and video games for consoles and PCs. Highly versatile, easy to learn, and known for its efficiency, C# is a great language to have in your developer toolkit. We take a look at some of the features of the code and why it is a solid choice for developers of any level.
As of this writing, C# is ranked as the top 5th most popular programming language on the planet, according to the TIOBE Index. It falls just short of its cousin C++, from which C# is partially derived. Java, which shares many similarities to C#, takes up the third spot, right behind powerhouses Python and C. Part of C #'s popularity stems from support from the .NET Framework and the fact that the language has been so embraced by the gaming community.
Programming Languages: What is C#
C# - pronounced C-Sharp - is a general-purpose, mid-level, object-oriented programming language created in the year 2000 by Microsoft. Designed by Anders Hejilsberg, C# was created to be part of the .Net initiative. Its current version is 9.0, which was released as part of .NET 5.0 in 2020. The language was originally slated to be named Cool, which stood for C-like Object-Oriented Language. It shares similarities with other languages, including C, C++, and, perhaps most controversially, Java.
C# relies on a similar syntax as other C-type languages, using familiar syntactical rules such as using semicolons to end statements, curly braces to group statements, square brackets to declare (and receive data from) arrays, and using equals sign (=) to assign values to variables.
What is C# Used For and What Software Can You Create with It?
C# is a flexible programming language that developers can use for virtually every type of software or application you can imagine. It has its advantages and disadvantages, like all coding languages, and as such, there are certain areas where C# thrives and areas where it shows its weaknesses.
One very popular use for C# is in the development of video games for both PCs and video game consoles alike. It is the de facto language of choice for game devs, in fact. Part of the attraction in this arena has to do with the fact that the Unity game engine was built on both C++ and C#. Because of this, C# integrates perfectly with the game engine, which is used to build many of the top video games in the world today.
Since C# is so similar to C++, it also makes it easier for game programmers to learn C++, another language that is big in the gamer community. Games you can create in C# range from platforms, side-scrollers, RPGs, Altered Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and mobile games as well.
Of course, thanks in large part to the .NET framework, web applications are another area where C# excels. You can use the .NET framework for these endeavors or use an Open Source platform if you prefer.
Desktop applications are another strong point for C#. Especially, as you might imagine, software built for Windows. Thanks to its efficient code, scalability, and the fact that it is so easy to maintain, C# is a great choice to create applications in. In fact, some of the biggest names in tech have been created using the language, including Adobe Photoshop, Mozilla Firefox, MySQL Server, and Thunderbird.
Advantages of Programming in C#
There are quite a few advantages of programming in C#. After all, the language would not be as popular as it is without reason. For starters, the language is relatively easy to learn when compared to other languages in the same class. While not as simple as Python or Perl, it does have a very low learning curve, making it ideal for beginners or seasoned programmers looking to add another language to their developer toolkit.
Another advantage of learning to code in C# is how efficient the language is. As a statically typed language, C# is easy to read and understand, making it easier to find errors in code (yours or another developer's) and also understand the code you are reading. It also makes it easy to write code in general, with reusable code being a primary feature of C#.
Part of that ease of reading and coding comes from the fact that C# is an Object-Oriented Programming (OOP) language. This makes it highly efficient, flexible, scalable, and easy to maintain.
Another great feature of C# is its community. There are a lot of developers that use C# and so finding support or answers for questions is not as hard as it might be with a lesser language. This large community also helps ensure the continued existence - and use - of the language, so you don't have to worry about it disappearing anytime soon. This is evidenced by its perpetual ranking in the top ten of indices such as TIOBE, linked above.
This same great community also means that there are plenty of C# developer jobs to be had. That trend does not seem to be slowing much, though there is stiff competition from the lives of Java, Python, and C.
Disadvantages of Programming in C#
Like any programming language, C# is not without its faults. A lot of the issues software engineers have with C# are a matter of personal preference, such as issues with it being so heavily Object-oriented. Others view C# as a little heavy and strict in terms of coding standards and best practices, often complaining of not being able to "flow" or be as flexible in their coding styles as they might like.
C# was also reliant on the .NET framework to a large degree in the past, and apps built with the programming language were really intended for that platform or to run in a Windows environment. This made you a little limited in your market reach in some ways and also can turn off some corporations that want a more cost-effective solution, such as having apps that are not OS-dependent. C# now runs on Mac and Linux as well, so this is no longer such an issue.
Another complaint about C# is that it can be slow to load - any changes to your C# code will require you to recompile, which can be a bit of a drain.
The Future of the C# Programming Language
While C# is not the most widely used language on the planet, it still enjoys a huge fan base that has grown consistently over the past 20 years. There are signs that the growth of the language has stalled somewhat, but it has not shown a real decline and is arguably the strongest language in the .NET framework arsenal.
Thanks to that, its popularity in gaming circles, and its venture into mobile development and web apps, C# isn't likely to go anywhere anytime soon. Whether you learn C# as your primary language or as a second (or third) developer language, you can't really go wrong.