To this very day, even though there are a lot of easier-to-learn programming languages around, most formal education institutions still teach languages like C or C++ as mandatory first programming languages to learn. While this does get a fair share of critique (even despite the actual C VS C++ debates), many senior developers believe that it’s actually the optimal way to go about it. The argument is that even though these programming languages are significantly more difficult than, let’s say, Python or Java, they will provide newbies with a solid backbone and a thorough understanding of the world of programming.
Since the popularity of the two above-mentioned programming languages is still very much evident, people are constantly wondering what is the difference between C and C++. Well, today, in this C VS C++ comparison article, we’ll try to answer just that. We’ll start off by talking about programming in general, after which we’ll move on to briefly describing each of the two languages. After establishing some criteria of analysis, we will be able to compare C VS C++ at the very end.
Table of Contents
To some, it might seem self-explanatory, but not everyone is convinced that programming is truly the way to go. Why should you bother learning programming when there are much simpler, more approachable and less time-consuming specialties around? Thoughts like this can really plant a lot of doubt in your mind, especially if you’re still a complete newcomer to the field. Before we begin the C VS C++ comparison, let’s talk about some of the most common reasons why people choose to learn programming.
First of all, job security. It is probably no secret that the field of Computer Science, in general, provides some of the best job security there is. The reason for this phenomenon is also really simple. With the technology industry constantly evolving and bringing us something new every single day, such topics as AI development, data science, and programming are becoming more and more frequent. Since these topics are seeing growth in popularity, there is a subsequent increase in the need for reliable and professional specialists. And all it takes is a single look at the job market trends to see that it’s very unlikely that the need for professional programmers will go away any time soon.
Another great thing about programming is the salary. Sure, different programming languages bring in a different paycheck at the end of the month, but programming, in general, is considered to be one of the most profitable professions out there. While it is true that one has to spend a lot of time learning and researching the topic, the programmer’s salary makes it all worth it, in the very end.
If you’re not specifically looking to learn programming for traditional career-building reasons per se, the specialty can still be a great addition to your skill set. First of all, the flexibility that it offers is almost unmatchable – knowing the intricacies of coding will open up many various doors for you – everything from freelance work all the way up to personal projects. If nothing else, programming can be a great tool to develop discipline and patience!
Now that you’re quite familiar with the various benefits that the field of programming provides, we can start moving towards the actual C VS C++ comparison. Before that, however, we need to talk about both of the programming languages individually. Let’s start with C.
C is a general-purpose system programming language. Already from the first sentence, the language is somewhat unique and stands out of most mainstream programming languages out there. How? By being a system programming language. What this means is that C is mostly used to program system software, instead of, for example, computer apps. In other words, C is used to create programs that are then used to actually run computers. This can somewhat explain the reason why C is also considered to be one of the most difficult programming languages out there.
C was created and developed in 1972, by a computer scientist named Dennis Ritchie. Since then, it has become the most iconic programming language in the world. As I’ve mentioned at the beginning of this C++ VS C comparison article, many people still believe that no matter the context, C should still be the very first programming language that you learn, whether in college or on your own. This thought is mostly upheld by industry veterans – even though the general trend is to save time and jump to the easiest-to-learn programming languages out there, these people claim that with doing so, you lose any and all opportunity to develop your logical thinking skills and miss the point of programming completely.
When people talk about what is the difference between C and C++, the very first thing that should be mentioned is that C++ is actually a deviation of C. This means that C is like the mother-language of C++, and the latter possesses most of the main features of C.
With that being said, let’s move on with this C VS C++ article and talk about C++.
Same as C, C++ is a general-purpose programming language. It was created back in 1979 (7 years after the establishment of C) by Bjarne Stroustrup and is mostly used for networking, gaming, and other computer app creation.
A very important feature that C++ from C in the C++ VS C debate is that this programming language is (for the most part) object-oriented, while C is procedural. Since C is mostly used for computer system development, this difference isn’t at all detrimental, but if we were talking about two programming languages that would be concerned with the same type of development (i.e. computer software programming), this would make C++ a lot more adaptable than C. Let me explain.
Whenever a programming language is object-oriented (be it fully or partially), it is considered to be adaptable. This means that the language is fast and efficient, thus being able to compete for the “best programming language” spot (as arbitrary as it may be). In the case of C VS C++, C++ focuses on objects and data, instead of actions and logic (which is often historically the case). Object-oriented programming allows the language to focus on the objects themselves, ignoring some of the less-important details along the way.
In most other cases, C++ is actually really similar to C. They are both lightweight, have manual memory management and can be used to code almost everything.
With that said, you should now have a better understanding of both programming languages in question. Now, let’s talk about some of the main criteria that we’ll be using to compare C VS C++.
When comparing two programming language (whether it be C++ VS C or any other ones), there are multiple different things that you need to take into account. Naturally, it all kind of boils down to your own personal preferences, but you still need to know the essential information to create those preferences, right?
For this C VS C++ comparison, I’ve chosen three key points that are important to every single programming language out there. Surely, there are a lot more things to take into the account when choosing a programming language, but we would probably approach the lengths of Harry Potter if we’d try to cover all of them in this tutorial.
The three points that I’ve chosen are speed, popularity, and salary. Let’s quickly cover them before moving on to the actual C VS C++ comparison.
Speed is undeniably one of the most important features of a programming language. Whether we’d be talking about C++ or Python, speed is always going to be one of the main focus points. And this isn’t without a good reason, either!
In recent times, there has been a lot of discussions concerning the topic of “speed” when it comes to programming languages. It is widely accepted that a good programming language has to be able to work fast – both to save time and to be as efficient as possible. On the other hand, however, many senior programmers state that the speed of a programming language isn’t as important as it used to be, let’s say, 10 years ago. Nowadays, modern processors are able to compensate for a slower coding language. The statistics don’t lie, however – the most commonly used programming languages are known to be (among other things) really fast.
Although this does not directly relate to the functionality of a programming language, it is definitely one of the most important features that a programming language can possess. There are at least two reasons why that’s the case.
First of all, at least when it comes to the field of programming, popularity does actually signify quality. If a programming language is popular, it will most likely be, well… good. Since the field of programming is constantly developing and changing, serious developers and programmers do not have the time or the motivation to go around catching the latest trends. Because of this, only the truly useful and efficient programming languages make it to the top.
Furthermore, if a programming language is popular, you can be sure that it will have a huge community of people behind it. This usually means a lot of interactions, endless amounts of information on how to start learning the programming language online (if you don’t have or do not want to participate in formal education), fun community groups, and so on. There are few things that are more frustrating than trying to learn a new programming language and finding that there is practically no information about it online.
I’ve already mentioned this at the beginning of this C VS C++ comparison article, but different programming languages offer different salaries. The difference itself usually depends on a few key things – the difficulty of the language, its usefulness, and popularity, whether or not the company that you’re trying to work in uses the language frequently or not, etc. And while it is true that programming is a field with great salaries in general, the difference in pay (depending on the programming languages in question) can still be rather big.
C VS C++
By now, you should have a great foundation on which you can start building your opinion on which one of the two programming languages (C VS C++) is better. Up to this point, we’ve already talked about the perks of programming, described both C and C++, figured out what is the difference between C and C++ and established some key points for our comparison. All that’s left to do now is to see how these two programming languages fair against one another on the above-mentioned points.
For the sake of keeping things simple, I’ll go through the each of the points individually, briefly describing just how much they apply to either C and C++.
Which one is Faster?
Even though there are many discussions concerning the speed of C and C++, the general consensus seems to be that C is a little bit faster than C++. The situation was different some time ago, however – if you were to ask this question five or ten years ago, the obvious winner would have been C. With modern technology, though, the difference between the two coding languages is almost insignificant.
Which one is more Popular?
Although this point is arguably very subjective, there isn’t really a clear difference in popularity when it comes to C VS C++. By that, I mean that both languages have huge fanbases worldwide, and there are endless amounts of information available online on either one of them.
Which one offers a better Salary?
According to Payscale.com, the average annual salary of a C developer ranges at around $90,000 USD, which turns out to be $7500 USD per month. As opposed to that, the average yearly salary of a C++ developer is around $95,000 USD, or almost $7920 USD per month (according to Glassdoor.com).
Even though the difference is quite insignificant, it seems that a C++ developer makes a little bit more money than a C developer does. Despite that, both types of developers have a great average salary!
Whichever one of the C VS C++ programming languages you choose depends completely on your own personal preferences. Either one of the two languages is going to serve you well – it all boils down to your reasoning behind learning a programming language, in general.
I hope that this C VS C++ comparison article was useful to you. Best of luck!