As far as programming languages go now, C++ and C have become highly prominent languages that have been around for a long time and are widely used in the field. In fact, C and C++ are two of the most widely used programming languages that can be used for many things, from software development, game development, and database design, to operating systems development, just to name a few.
The two of them have so much to offer the programmers, so how can we pick one over the other?
The main difference between C and C++ is that C++ was developed as an extension of C. C++ was designed to be easier to use and to allow programmers to make efficient use of computer resources. C++ also has some similarities with C, but there are some important differences. C++ is a good choice for experienced programmers who want to learn a new programming language. Well, we will be first looking at the core of what is C and C++ followed by a tabular representation of detailed head-to-head comparison.
What is C?
C is a general-purpose, structured programming language that was introduced for system development work i.e., programs that make up the operating systems. It soon gained popularity for several application developments because of its flexibility, faster execution, and simplicity.
It was developed in the year 1972 by computer scientist Dennis Ritchie at the Bell Laboratories. C is known by the name of God’s programming language, as it forms the base of many of the modern-day languages you might have been studying today like Python, Java, C++, and many more.
The prevalence and versatility of C can be highlighted through the most popular applications and software built with this language. From working on different operating systems like Windows, Apple OS X, and Symbian to mobile and desktop operating systems; From Language compilers, Network Drivers to one of the most known applications like MYSQL, Adobe, etc.
Key Features of C
C and C++, as we have read above, have their complexities, purposes, goals, and advantages. And before jumping on the comparison of C vs C++, we should read about the features for both of them as well.
- Simple: C programming language is one of the oldest programming languages and is known for its simplicity and easy-to-understand format.
- It forms the base for many programming languages and therefore, many programmers prefer C as a good starting point for beginners.
- Portable: The C programming language is adaptable to different platforms and systems. This means that if you have written your code on one platform, you can port or run it on different platforms as well for modifications or updates. This is why C is called the machine-independent language.
- Procedural Language: The C programming language uses a particular flow of the program to run the code. It breaks the code into the small blocks for differential functioning and minimizes the complexities.
- Case Sensitive: The C programming language is case sensitive and will treat ‘C’ and ‘c’ as different variables.
- Dynamic Memory Allocation: C supports dynamic memory allocation. It means C allows memory space during the run time as well. It plays to the advantage of the programmer because they cannot know beforehand the space or memory required while running the code.
- Rich Library: To provide programmers with a better and simple coding experience, C gives them a library with built-in functions or user-defined functions. C has a rich library that caters to varied needs and requirements.
- Speed: C programming is not only simple and efficient. It is also faster. In comparison to programming languages like Java and Python, C provides a rapid performance as it is a compiler-based language.
Read More – C Language Features
What is C++?
C++ or C with Classes is a general-purpose object-oriented programming language that is used to create high-performing applications.
C++ was earlier known by the name of C with classes as it was an amalgamation of C and Simula67 (first object-oriented language). It means that with the properties of the C programming language, C++ also introduced the concepts of classes and objects for user-defined data types.
The origin of C++ goes back to 1979, developed by Bjarne Stroustrup. The idea behind C++ was, as the name suggests, to bring about a general-purpose language that should not be limited to a specific use. It is used with Operating systems, high-end libraries, cloud distributed systems, compilers, game development, smartwatches, graphic applications and so much more.
Today, C++ isn’t just an extension of C programming language, but, with three modern updates and high-end performance, it is changing its position from merely a language extension into one of the most popular and in-demand programming languages on the market.
C++ forms the base for programmers to learn about object-oriented programming in a simpler and thorough manner.
Key Features Of C++
Here are some of the key features of the C++ programming language:
- Static Type System: A C++ is a compiler-based language. It means that before executing or running the code, we need to use a compiler that makes it understandable to the computer.
- Fast and Powerful: As C++ is a compiler-based language, it enhances and makes the execution of the code faster. Plus, with an extensive assortment of functions and data types, etc, it makes the language powerful and a sure choice for programmers.
- Pointers: A point in the C++ language holds the address of a particular object. It is a feature that allows programmers to use pointers for interacting with the functions, arrays, memory and structures with less code and rapidly.
- Object-Oriented Language: The language C++ was an extension to the procedural programming language C, and as such included the OOP (object-oriented programming) concepts.
C++ based on OOP concepts means that it organizes development design around data and objects rather than the functions or logic that acts upon them. Objects have attributes and methods associated with them.
For example, “type of programming languages” is a type of class (blueprint for an object), Python, C++, and C are different objects and features, advantages, etc are the properties (data) of the object. So, the OOP concepts bind the data and functions together.
The concepts which OOP includes are Polymorphism, Encapsulation, Abstraction, Inheritance, etc that helps with code maintenance, prevent data redundancy, ensure flexibility and effective problem solving and so much more.
- Extensible: C++ programming language is known for its extensibility because it is flexible in adapting to new features and any modifications in design.
- Additional Features: It is to be noted that since C++ is a superset of the programming language C, it includes all the features of C as well, like dynamic memory allocation, rich library, structured programming, portability, etc.
Read more: Top C++ Features
Difference Between C and C++
|Programming Style||The C programming language is a procedural language type. The language is function-driven.||C++ is an object-oriented programming language type. The language is object-driven.|
|Approach||C programming follows a top to down programming approach that focuses on the steps rather than the data.||C++ follows a bottom-to-top approach that focuses on data rather than the overall procedure.|
|Program Division||As C is a structured programming language, the program is divided into blocks known as functions which can be viewed as individual components of the program.||As C++ is an object-oriented programming language, the code consists of Objects and Classes.|
|Data Types||C supports built-in data types. C is a basic version of a programming language and supports only primitive, fixed data types.||Besides built-in data types, C++ also supports user-defined data types. C++ is an enhanced version of C and supports generic data types.|
|Exception Handling||C does not support exception handling, i.e., support in times of ‘hard’ errors causing code problems.||C++ supports exception handling and provides efficient support during errors and incorrect codes.|
|Application Development||This programming language is more suitable for assemblers, text editors, network drivers, and low-level implementations.||C++ programming language is suitable and extensible for high-end programming including game development, embedded systems like smartwatches, medical machines, etc.|
|Compatibility||C is the foundational language and, hence, the code written with C can be run with the C++ compiler.||C++ is the superset of the C language including OOP concepts and hence, cannot run the code in the C compiler.|
|File Extension||.c is the file extension for the C programming language.||.cpp is the file extension for C++.|
|Ease Of Coding||Also known as Hands-on language which means C allows the programmer to tell everything. Therefore, one can program it the way we want. It is easy.||C++ is a more object-oriented high-level programming language which requires fixed construction and principles. However, it is easier to code.|
|Data Security||C programming language does not adhere to the encapsulation concept and allows easy data manipulation from outside code.||C++ is a more secure programming language.|
|Inline Function||C does not support inline function.||C++ supports inline functions.|
|Variable||A variable is like a storage location and in C it needs to be defined at the beginning itself.||Variables in C++ can be declared anytime.|
|Namespace||To organize the code for efficiency and prevent collisions, namespace is required. C does not support that.||C++ as a flexible programming language supports namespace.|
|Source code||C was the base of many foundational languages and is itself known for its free format source code.||C++ was developed, and inspired by the C programming language.|
|Used By||Microsoft Windows Kernel, Telegram Messenger, Oracle Database, MySQL, etc.||Google Chrome, Microsoft Office, Torque 3-D game engine, and so many more.|
|Header Files||The C language uses a <studio.h> header file.||The C++ language uses a <iostream.h> header file.|
|Access Modifiers||No access modifiers are present in the C structure.||Access modifiers are used in C++ structures.|
|Memory Allocation/De-allocation||For dynamic memory allocation, C provides the malloc() and calloc() functions, as well as free() function for memory de-allocation.||With C++, memory allocation can be performed by a new operator, and memory de-allocation can be accomplished by a delete operator.|
|Inheritance||Inheritance is not supported by C.||Inheritance is supported in C++.|
|Focus||The C language focuses on methods or processes instead of data.||Rather than focusing on methods or procedures, C++ focuses on data.|
|Virtual and Friend functions||The C language does not support virtual functions or friend functions.||In C++, virtual functions and friend functions are supported.|
C vs C++: Which is better?
After reading about the core features, concepts, and the C and C++ differences, the question “which one is better?”
There is no denying the fact that C being a simple and efficient programming language, also forms the base for many popular languages including C++.
However, C++ is an extension of this language and with all the features of C have the added concepts of Object-oriented programming also like Encapsulation, abstract, inheritance, etc.
So, to get a clear stance on it let’s have a look at the advantages and disadvantages for both of them.
- Structured Programming Language
- Built-in Functions
- Suitable choice for implementing data structures and algorithms.
- Portable Language
- Does not support OOP concepts
- No implementation of namespaces
- Does not exhibit exception handling
- Run-time Check: Errors are detected not during the code but only after executing the code. It makes troubleshooting complex for bigger programs.
- Dynamic Memory Management
- Multi-Dimensional Language that focuses on logic, style, and procedures of the program
- Rich Built-in Libraries
- Object-oriented Programming
- Big Community
- Surging demand amidst top tier companies
- Maintains Scalability for low scale or high scale of data.
- Complex Language
- Unsafe: C++ though have better security measures than C but because of the availability of functions like pointers, global variables, no garbage collection, etc can cause problems like program crashing, irregular code checks,
- No garbage collection and a constant tracking of memory leads to mistakes and can cause memory corruption
The difference between C and C++ wraps up to one conclusion as a programmer, it’s your decision to choose the language for your project.
After a glance at the features, drawbacks, and advantages of both C and C++, you could make out that both languages are suitable for different kinds of projects.
C is more suitable for low programming level applications, but also is one of the foundational languages for a beginner.
C++ as an extension of this language provides the additional OOP concepts that help to build complex applications faster, better, and secure. Plus, the demand for this language proceeds to a bright scope for developers. Therefore, to make your unbiased decision on which one is between C and C++, you need a thorough reading of this article.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is C++ better than C?
C++ is a superset of the language C, with enhanced features including OOP concepts. So, yes in creating some complex projects C++ is better than C.
Q: How are C and C++ different?
C is the foundational, procedural programming language introduced earlier for system applications and low-level programs.
C++ is an Object-oriented programming language with features same as C and additional features like Encapsulation, Inheritance, etc for complex application development. They are the same yet different in so many parameters.
Q: Is C easier than C++?
C is easier to learn because of its hands-on characteristics. But C++ is easier to code with its fixed structures and principles.
Q: Is C still used?
Yes, C is still used in many companies and by many developers till today.
Q: What can C++ do that C Cannot?
The significant difference between C and C++ is an Object-oriented language that gives the advantages of data security, scalability, better performance, rich built-in functions and so much more.