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What Kind Of Programming Language Is C?

what is c

The C programming language is one of the most popular programming languages in use today. Over the years C has been joined by many new programming languages that introduced lots of new features such as object orientated programming yet it still is consistently placed in the top 3 programming in languages in use today. Did you know that every time you code C++, C# and even PHP, Python or Java apps you’re using programming language ideas which stand on the shoulders of the great C programming language. So, with that in mind, what kind of programming language is C and why is it sill so popular despite so many other choices?

What kind of programming language is C?

The C programming language is high-level, non-interpreted (compiled) programming language.

What is a low-level programming language?

There are two types of programming languages: Interpreted and Non-Interpreted (Compiled). All computers, specifically the CPU/GPU, work with machine code, code that can be directly used by them. This is the most native and fastest code, but it requires writing many lines for simple things and is hard to generalize for all kinds of machines. The code is also quite difficult to understand since it uses instructions which are not really like a human language. This kind of program is sometimes referred to as a “low level” programming language because it is very close to the computer’s raw hardware instructions.

What Kind Of Programming Language Is C? Machine language instructions in a window
Low-level computer language is a little hard to understand

What is a high-level programming language?

Programming languages such as C, C++, Delphi and so on, look more like a human’s natural language, specifically, English. We call these kind of programming languages “high level” programming languages because they are further away from the computer hardware’s native instructions.

These high-level languages have to be converted from the nice high-level human-friendly program into the low-level machine instructions. The program we use to do that is called a compiler.

What Kind Of Programming Language Is C? C++ code in an editor window
High-level languages like C and C++ are easier for humans to understand

What is a compiler?

A compiler, C or C++ compiler, etc., is a computer program that converts one programming language i.e., C/C++ code written with text into executable machine code with a linker. It converts the high-level instructions into the low-level instructions the computer can understand. There is another special program involved in the process too, it’s called a linker. A linker takes several different packages of low-level code and combines them together to form a final package. Compilers and linkers are quite complicated and they involve processes such as optimization which is where sections of code which are not used by the final app (because it is unusable) are removed. This makes the final app smaller. The compiler and linker also may encode some of the high-level routines in different ways to find the most efficient way for the high-level code to be converted into the low-level code. There is quite a lot going on when a program is compiled!

What is an interpreted computer language?

An interpreted language is a computer language which needs a program called a “runtime environment” in order for the programs written in it to run. Unlike compiled programs such a C, C++, and Delphi, an interpreted language gets compiled into an intermediate set of instructions sometimes referred to as P-Code. P-Code packages contain symbols known as tokens each of which represent sections of functionality and keywords of the interpreted language. Unlike fully compiled programs like C this P-code cannot be directly run by the operating system and computer hardware; it is instead read in by the language’s runtime, converted into executable code in memory and then run. This extra runtime step slows down the program somewhat compared to fully compiled programs, sometimes by a significant amount. Languages such as Java, Python and some versions of Basic are all interpreted programming languages.

High-level, low-level, or interpreted – which type of programming language is C?

The C programming language is a high-level fully compiled programming language. C++ is also a high-level fully compiled programming language.

Such code may not be as fast as very low-level assembler code, but the difference in speed for well-written C and C++ code is often very small. Using an interpreted programming language is like being carried by a runner, while a compiled (non-interpreted) programming language such as C or C++ is like running itself. This subtle difference turns into a huge gap when you run the same routine for example in face recognition, millions of times a millisecond.

What Kind Of Programming Language Is C? C Programming language cover
The C Programming Language 1st edition cover Source: Wikimedia

What kind of programming language is C – the history of the C language

The C Programming Language was developed in the 1970s by Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie. and originally developed at Bell Labs where it was used to construct utilities running on the Unix operating system. It was applied to re-implementing the kernel of the Unix operating system so it needed to be as fast and as efficient as possible.

C is a procedural computer programming language supporting structured programming, lexical variable scope, and recursion, with a static type system. The C programming keywords and structures map code very efficiently to typical low-level machine instructions. It was easy to create more generalized code than it was in assembly language, and this encouraged the adoption and spread of the C programming language as a viable alternative to the more cumbersome and onerous assembly instructions with minimal compromises. In the years following the introduction of the C++ programming language, it became widely used for a broad range of general and specialized purposes including operating systems and various application software that targeted computer architectures ranging from supercomputers to PLCs and embedded systems. For more details of programming history of C and C++ you can read this long article about the story of C++ programming history,

What kind of programming language is C in 2022?

Since 1983, because of C++, generally C can be compiled with C++ compilers and IDEs. C++ programs often use C code for some parts of their functionality. Sometimes we combine and use C functions in the methods of C++ classes. Generally, a C++ compiler also compiles C language-specific commands, most of the standard C++ commands like for()while()printf() come from the C language. One of the biggest differences between C and C++ programming languages is, C++ is an Object Oriented Programming (OOP) language that supports using Classes, Objects, Methods etc.

The C++ Compiler and C++ IDE features really evolved from the early and auspicious beginnings of Turbo C, C++ and Borland C++. Today we have a wide array of features supporting a rich and diverse amount of OS platforms running on thousands of types of devices encompassing everything from cell phones, watches, cars to a broad collection of IoT (internet of things) specialized hardware. If we look at the C and C++ programming languages it has more than a %33+ share in programming overall and is still the most popular programming language worldwide. It is really amazing to see the ways in which humanity is benefitting from the advances in technology that have accompanied the evolution of our beloved programming language.

What kind of programming language is C and C++ in the world compared to others?

C and C++ Compilers are great tools to develop when they are paired with a professional C++ IDE for Windows app development. According to the TIOBE Index and parallel to these results in many true statistic web sites, C and C++ programming language have more than 23+% share in total, C language has more than 13.13% share and if you add Objective-C, Swift, and other C and C++ related programming languages it has about more than 33% share in worldwide and note that these are recorded from online data only.

What Kind Of Programming Language Is C? An image showing language rankings for computers
Resource: TIOBE https://www.tiobe.com/tiobe-index/ (Captured on 17th July 2022)

There might be more C and C++ developers if we include those kinds of other operating systems which are offline or embedded systems and not included in these records.

What kind of programming language is C++ Builder ?

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Strictly speaking C++ Builder is not a programming language although, curiously, we do see people searching for an answer to this question! C++ Builder is a C and C++ IDE including a range of C++ compilers for the different operating systems like Windows 11, iOS, and Android. It is the easiest and fastest C and C++ IDE for building everything from simple to professional applications on the Windows, iOS & Android operating systems. It is also easy for beginners to learn with its wide range of samples, tutorials, help files and LSP support for code. C++ Builder comes with Rapid Application Development Studio, also known as RAD Studio. RAD Studio’s C++ Builder version comes with the award-winning VCL framework for high-performance native Windows apps and the powerful FireMonkey (FMX) framework for cross-platform UIs. There is a free C++ Builder Community Edition for students, beginners, and startups.

What Kind Of Programming Language Is C? The Best C++ IDE is RAD Studio C++ Builder

In 2022 the most recent version of C++ Builder contains a number of improvements and quality fixes for C++ developers using C++Builder and RAD Studio 11.1, including performance improvements, display of code completion results, improved navigation, as well as a variety of quality fixes including resolving an issue for users of the classic compiler, issues saving all files in a project, and more. There are also several new features, including handling multiple navigation destinations when Control-clicking on an identifier, delayed indexing to reduce CPU usage, and a third option for LSP Code Insight behavior which indexes all files in all projects. We recommend reading the documentation on configuring C++ Code Insight in order to tune its behavior for your projects and needs. RAD Studio 11 versions are introduced several new features, enhancements, and quality updates in key areas including:   

  • Provision apps for Windows 11
  • Compile for Android API 30
  • Compile for macOS M-series (Apple Silicon) processors
  • Design on high-DPI 4k+ screens
  • View VCL Styles in design time
  • New & modernized VCL components  
  • Use enhanced remote desktop support to collaborate remotely 

Is there a Free C and C++ IDE to develop apps ?

The C++Builder Community Edition is free C++ Builder IDE (limited commercial use license) with a full featured IDE for building iOS and Windows apps from a single modern C++ codebase. You can use it free of charge with Embarcadero’s community of freelance for the developers, startups, students and non-profits. C++Builder Community Edition includes a code editor, powerful debugging tools, built-in access to popular local databases with live data at design time, Bluetooth and IoT capabilities and a visual UI designer with support for pixel perfect, platform specific styling.

You can download the free C++ Builder Community Edition from here.

Professional developers can use the Professional, Architect or Enterprise versions of C++ Builder. Please visit https://www.embarcadero.com/products/cbuilder.


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About author

Dr. Yilmaz Yoru has 33+ years of coding with more than 30+ programming languages, mostly C++ on Windows, Android, Mac-OS, iOS, Linux, and other operating systems. He was born in 1974, Eskisehir-Turkey. He graduated from the Department of Mechanical Engineering of Eskisehir Osmangazi University in 1997. One year later, he started to work in the same university as an assistant. He received his MSc and Ph.D. degrees from the same department of the same university. Since 2012, he is the founder and CEO of Esenja LLC Company. Some of his interests are Programming, Thermodynamics, Fluid Mechanics, and Artificial Intelligence. He also likes the graphical 2D & 3D design and high-end innovations. He has married, and he is a father of a son.

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