Is C Programming close to being obsolete or are these sensationalist claims that will never come true? Read on to find out more about it
C is among the world’s most popular programming languages. It is a general-purpose, middle-level language that finds varied applications in numerous sectors of IT development. However, today, we face a very real prospect of the language’s diminishing relevance.
In the world of computer science, C programming is something of a family patriarch; a grandfather perceived to be a little out of touch with the times. There are hardly any doubts about its impact on modern computing. But are its days now numbered? Let’s take a closer look.
A gentleman by the name of Dennis Ritchie developed C programming as a language between 1969 and 1973 at Bell Labs. Initially created with the sole purpose of designing the UNIX operating system, C quickly spread beyond Bell Labs.
Programmers were impressed to find a language that was not only powerful but flexible.
‘Middle-level language’ is a common introductory description people began to associate with C. What this means is that it can bind the gap between a high-level language and a low-level language (machine language). So a user can use C to do system-level programming (to write an operating system) as well as application programming (to create software such as a word processor or a web browser) to run on the system.
Understanding the full potential of the language sent shockwaves through the computer industry. C became the go-to language for most coders.
With increasing popularity, different versions of C found implementation during the 1980s and 1990s. Mainframe computers and microcomputers were some of the systems that used C.
In more recent years, C Programming has found a more general-purpose use because of its diverse functionality and growing popularity. C offers a level of portability that cannot be matched by most other languages. The syntax of C has influenced several other languages like C++, C#, and Java.
Today, the C language is widely used to implement end-user applications. No one can deny it has a faithful pool of coders who design exclusively on C, but a number of people are beginning to move onto other, trendier platforms.
The TIOBE index (an indicator of the popularity of programming languages) has, over the last few years, marked a steady decline in the popularity for C. Its ratings are at less than 6.5%, which is the lowest they have ever been. Java has replaced C as the most loved language among programmers.
Why, you may ask? Well, there are several reasons for it.
There are no big companies or firms at the moment who actively promote C.
It isn’t a language you think when you write programs for the most in-demand fields, such as mobile applications or websites.
It is not evolving in quite the same way as other, newer languages.
Many have called for a merger between C and C++ to create one language. This makes sense as C++ is an offshoot of C and has several benefits over its older sibling. For instance, if you want a matrix in C, you will need to have a whole bunch of arrays, and this increases the complexity of the program. C++ on the other hand, allows you to define a matrix. This makes creating matrices on C++ much easier to debug and to optimize for performance.
Is C Really in Danger of Becoming Obsolete?
To be honest, C programming becoming completely obsolete is still a distant prospect. The basic reason for this is that you need to have considerable knowledge of C to be able to work with C++ and C#. C is nothing but a portable assembler. So a whole new language has to replace C as a low-level portable assembler for it to completely die out.
Optimists vs. the Naysayers
A lot of passionate coders scoff at the naysayers. The prospect of C programming going entirely out of fashion does seem unlikely at this point.
So, have you picked a side yet on the debate of C vs. a newer, simpler alternative? What does your programming experience tell you about where the future of computer science is headed?
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