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There is a huge ongoing debate among people about which programming language should be learned first – C or C++? There is no doubt that both of these are among the most popular programming languages ever and learning either of them is important. They are extremely valuable in the arena of software development. Everyone seems to hold an opinion of their own about which language should be learned before the other. People base their claims on different scenarios, and it cannot be said that there is one right answer to this question.
C had been developed by Dennis Ritchie at Bell Labs between 1969 and 1973 and was mainly designed to reimplement the Unix operating system and was designed to be platform-independent unlike the assembly language or other lower level languages. The C++, on the other hand, was designed by Bjarne Stroustrup and appeared for the first time in 1985. It was heavily based on C, and the name suggests that it is more of an up-gradation. However, it needs to be understood that both the languages are quite different from each other and even support different programming paradigms. While C supports a procedural or structured programming approach, C++ is an object-oriented programming language.
What are the core differences between C and C++?
Before deciding which language should be learned first, it would be a good idea to find out what the factors that differentiate one from the other are? C was designed to re-implement the UNIX operating system and as such, is a classic low-level language. C++ is more of a superset of C and supports both procedural and object-oriented approach. It is true that C++ has heavily derived its features from C, but both of them needs to be approached differently. Even considering this fact, the use of C has not depreciated. It is still considered a portable and efficient language and is universal. C also offers a great entrance to procedural programming.
However, this does not mean that a knowledge of C is essential to learn C++. This means that a programmer could learn to write code in C without knowing anything about C. A programmer should ideally know both C and C++ thoroughly.
Now, both the languages aren’t used in the same scenario. While C mostly finds use in programming at the systems level, C++ is mainly used for higher level development. If someone is trying to develop a driver or compiler or trying to build an operating system from scratch, he would undoubtedly prefer writing in C. A video game developer, on the other hand, would most certainly like to stick to C++. Depending on which industry a programmer is related to, he or she would take decisions accordingly.
Learning C before C++
Many programmers who are absolute beginners would undoubtedly prefer C. Even though C has a very low-level approach; it is very easy to learn as a beginner. Beginners can easily grasp the language without putting in much effort as C offers a straightforward learning curve. The procedural language makes it easy for the beginners to get into the programming world.
C offers fewer options to programmers and as such is very well suited for the beginners. If you are interested in C then you can find best C tutorials on Hackr.io. Many programmers move to other languages like Java or C++, which offer an object-oriented approach. Learning C first provides programmers with a way to get accustomed to the procedural way of programming. Learning object-oriented programming becomes much easier when people switch to C++ after having some exposure in C. C++ is more complicated than C and it could be overwhelming for someone just starting out.
There could be lots of other reasons for choosing C to begin with, but many more prefer to start with C++. Let us find out what could be the reasons, to start with, coding in C++.
Learning C++ before C
There are programmers out there who are much more seasoned and acclimated to object-oriented programming paradigms. For these people learning C++ first is a viable option and it can be understood if such people start with C++ without going for C. C++ is much more used in the programming world today. The language is considered to be much more robust with the fantastic features that it offers. It offers a lot of library functions that includes container classes and is suited to lots of different applications in different fields.
Some programmers would need to work in a specific field, for instance, the video game industry. These programmers might not need to use C at all since they are working for a specialized application. Sometimes people get confused with using both C and C++ as they are very similar and can easily confuse a developer.
Now with all these said, what could be the answer?
Which language needs to be learned first? All of it depends on the goals of the programmer. If you are starting out in the programming world, C could be your choice as C++ might turn out to be a little overwhelming. So coding in C would allow you some room to learn and grow. But if you would not need all that and you have some expertise, and you are looking to grow some serious development skills, you might skip to C++ directly. These skills could be used in a work environment as C++ would act like a more versatile language. But if you would like to do some programming down in the systems level, learning C would prove to be invaluable. Thus it can be seen that there is a fragile line between the two and it might seem to be invisible at times. The perspective of the programmer is all that matters here.
Considering all of this, it must be mentioned that there are other languages to consider as well. The transition from C++ to C# is easier than that of C to C++. Not only that, programmers could even opt to cleaner languages like Java, which offers automatic garbage collection, or try out a scripting language like Python.