For beginners, all languages starting with C look the same. In reality, C, C#, and C++ are distinct programming languages targeting different fields. This tutorial compares C# vs. C++ in terms of syntax (which is more beginner-friendly), purposes (which is suited for web development, which is for machine learning), game development (Unity vs. Unreal engine), and overall performance (which is more performance-oriented).
Table of Contents
- 1 Main principles of C++
- 2 How C# is defined and used
- 3 Biggest differences: C# vs. C++
- 4 Syntax rules: C# vs. C++
- 5 Choosing between C# and C++ for web development
- 6 Deep learning: which language is better for AI
- 7 C++ vs. C#: game development with Unity and Unreal Engine
- 8 C++ vs. C# performance: which works faster
- 9 Conclusions
Main principles of C++
C++ (or C with classes) is a general-purpose language and an extension to the C programming language.
According to its creator, C++ improved C in terms of objects and their behavior. Additionally, the founder Bjarne Stroustrup included these changes into the new language without decreasing the speed and overall efficiency of code.
C++ might be challenging to learn for a beginner due to its complex syntax rules, lots of conventions, error-prone memory management, and non-intuitive features of the language. However, if you start your programming career by learning C++, all other languages will be much easier to master.
How C# is defined and used
C# (pronounced as see-sharp) is a general-purpose programming language, mainly designed for creating programs that execute on the .NET framework. Developers frequently apply it for the development of Windows desktop programs, web applications, and games.
Is C# easier than C++? Well, C# is a high-level language, meaning that its code is easy-to-read even for beginners.
Another great feature is that C# is a statically-typed language, meaning that the code is checked for errors before made into a program. However, there are some non-statically typed features in C# (for instance, the dynamic keywords).
The origin story of C# is interesting. Basically, Microsoft decided to create C# after they were prevented from making modifications to Java. Specifically, they wanted Java not to be portable to Windows. They wanted to create their implementation in Windows instead.
Therefore, Microsoft thought that creating a new language to serve their needs is an easier option. As a result, C# is not only similar to C-like languages, but to Java as well.
Biggest differences: C# vs. C++
Uses for C++ and C# are comparable. Both of them are for creating desktop and web applications (to a certain extent). Since C# is easier to master and to use than C++, C# is becoming a more popular choice around the globe. However, when developers need to have more control over their projects, they turn to C++.
Here are the main points that answer the question of how different is C# from C++:
- C++ is compiled with special compiling programs to machine code, while C# is turned into native code using CLR (common language runtime).
- Memory management is much easier in C# than in C++. C# offers automatic garbage collection, which manages memory allocation. For example, when you define objects, CLR allocates memory for the object from the heap. Garbage collection in C# means that C# automatically makes extra space from unused objects. C++ does not offer such a feature, and you need to perform all memory allocation management manually.
- C++ allows multiple inheritance, while C# does not. The concept of multiple inheritance means that a class is capable of inheriting from several classes. In some cases, multiple inheritance can be confusing and too complicated. Additionally, the number of use-cases is also limited (when the multiple inheritance is actually beneficial). Therefore, to avoid ambiguity, C# creators decided to prevent it. When comparing the speed of C# vs. C++, the winner is C++. Consequently, it is better to choose C++ for programs that rely on quick performance. However, there are ways of optimizing C# code as well to make its speed similar to C++.
- Even though C# works on all popular operating systems, it is the most popular in the Windows environment. C++ does not have a preferred or more popular operating system.
Syntax rules: C# vs. C++
The question of C++ vs. C# syntax is not difficult to answer. For beginners, the structure and conventions of C++ might be difficult to understand. Let’s review the main difference in the syntax rules of C# vs. C++:
- C# does not have global functions. The solution for this is creating static classes.
- C++ has header files, while C# does not have them.
- Instead of #include headline at the beginning of the C++ code, C# applies using statements (for instance, using System;).
- C# supports single inheritance, while C++ supports multiple.
- Pointers are not applicable in C#. Instead, C# uses references in the unsafe code.
- C++ does not support for each loop; C# does.
Choosing between C# and C++ for web development
Comparing C++ and C# web development is a tricky question. Developers turn to C++ when their priority is the speed of applications. People also associate this language with more elaborate and powerful projects such as games, browsers, or operating systems.
On the other end, we have C#, which is better for creating Windows software and web development (usually backend). Additionally, C# is more popular than C++ in web development.
C# is a .NET language, meaning that it targets web development as one of its main purposes. It is a beginner-friendly language, but you also need to learn about ASP.NET. It is an open-source framework for backend web applications.
C# works with ASP.NET to create web applications. One thing to note is that code created in C# will need to be converted to HTML by using the .NET framework. Otherwise, your code won’t work on browsers. Remember that C# is for server-side programming. The appearance of web applications can be enhanced with the Bootstrap framework (or other).
In the discussion of C# vs. C++, the latter is a candidate for web development, as well. Nevertheless, C++ is rarely applied in this field. It is more common to see C++ in such parts of web applications that are speed-critical. For instance, you can find traces of C++ on Amazon.com, eBay, Google, or Facebook to guarantee a pleasant performance for users.
Furthermore, C++ is more prone to error and too low-level to be a language for web development. Another glaring downside to using C++ in this field is that there are better, more beginner-friendly options. Therefore, analyzing C# vs. C++ in terms of web development results in the fact that C# is a more suitable choice.
Deep learning: which language is better for AI
You might think that Python is the leading language in terms of machine learning. However, C++ is the base for most of the frameworks for deep learning; developers add other languages later. One of the advantages of using C++ is the faster runtime code. Additionally, there are C++ frameworks specifically for deep learning purposes.
- Eblearn is an open-source framework for performing machine learning models.
- Google’s TensorFlow framework is for implementing numerical calculations with data flow graphs. It also works with C++, not only Python.
- Microsoft CNTK is a deep learning framework written in C++.
- Caffe lets you create convolutional neural networks.
C# deep learning became an option with ML.NET. It is for creating and adding original machine learning models into programs. However, C# is not a very suitable choice for machine learning (unless we are talking about building AI in games).
Overall, the best languages for machine learning are those that are performance-oriented (such as C++) or have many resources and frameworks (such as Python).
C++ vs. C#: game development with Unity and Unreal Engine
Both C# and C++ can be used to create games. However, C++ has better control hardware on the PC or server. Therefore, it is usually a more suitable language for game development.
However, both languages are for game development, especially knowing that you won’t be creating games from scratch (usually). Game engines help you produce games without having to figure out the physics and animations on your own.
Therefore, even people with average programming skills can start producing entertaining gaming applications. Additionally, the scripting performed in game engines differs from regular programming.
C# and Unity are the tools that most beginners will start to use. Unity is a game engine that lets you produce scripts for interactive content of games.
Even the smallest piece of content in Unity starts from a GameObject, which gets components (or properties) to perform certain actions. For instance, a source of light in the game would receive the light component. You can assign these properties through the script or the Inspector window.
While using the combination of C# and Unity, you will quickly notice that you can add more properties and make them unique by writing script instead of using built-in features. However, many beginners take advantage of the existing components. As a result, games based on Unity tend to look similar.
When comparing C# vs# stands out because you will be able to produce the game more quickly than using C++. For instance, take a look at this course for beginners about creating games with unity. It teaches you the basics of downloading and installing Unity, using interface windows and tabs, etc.
Want to try and create an actual game by using C# and Unity? This course provides a step-by-step guide for creating your first game in Unity. One interesting fact is that the Unity engine was created with C++, but users apply C# for game development.
The ability to distribute across various platforms might play a big role when choosing C++ or C# for games. C++ is easier to distribute, but beginners should not choose this language for their first game-development attempts. You may spend more time trying to get your code to work. However, games developed in C++ tend to work faster and are more polished.
People who want to create games with C++ often choose Unreal Engine, which presents a set of tools for developing and designing games. Unreal Engine is not very beginner-friendly, meaning that people need more advanced programming skills to use it. By using C++ in the Unreal Engine, developers add the main structure of the gameplay system, and designers enhance it.
The verdict in the decision of C# vs. C++ for games depends on your level of programming and determination. For beginners, playing around in the Unity environment is enough, but if you want a more powerful engine, choose C++ with Unreal engine.
C++ vs. C# performance: which works faster
In the previous sections of C++ vs. C#, we briefly compared these languages in terms of speed and overall performance. However, it is a more complicated issue than you would expect. In theory, there is no reason why C# loses the battle to C++ in terms of optimized performance (however, it is losing).
Let’s briefly compare C++ vs. C# performance and try to answer the question of why one language can be slower than another. Furthermore, let’s investigate why the speed downside should not discourage you from using C#.
- C# has an additional execution step called JIT compilation. This stage is the optimization step but is not as advanced as the optimization available in C++.
- High-level programming languages are usually slower than others.
- C# features a lot of overheads and adds libraries before compilation.
- However, specialists believe that the differences in the C# vs. C++ performance are minimal and exaggerated.
- The speed of programming languages is not always the priority. If you can reach your goals much faster in C#, you do not need to spend more time trying to figure out the principles of C++.
The final note we want to leave you with is that it is important to learn a programming language that fits your experience level and interests. For instance, if you are not interested in web development, you won’t spend time mastering CSS or the Bootstrap framework.
When it comes to comparing C# vs. C++, we recommend you to base your decision on these pointers:
- Evaluate your determination and skills. Are you ready to spend more time on the low-level language like C++? Great! It is a powerful language that will help you create powerful programs and potentially successful games.
- If you are looking for an easier programming language to start learning, C# might be the one. After all, it is one of the most popular programming languages around.
- If you already have knowledge about C#, adding C++ to your resume is not as difficult because you will be able to master C++ quicker.