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Choosing which programming language to learn can be tough. Different languages are good at different things, and having a set goal can make it easier. What if you want to learn to program, but aren’t sure what career path to follow?
There are several languages which are broad enough to learn regardless of what you want to do in the future. You will likely learn more than one in your programming career, but starting with C# is a good idea. Why should you choose C# over other languages?
Where Did C# Come From?
C# is a mid to high-level programming language developed by Microsoft, which appeared in the year 2000. Microsoft invested heavily in its development in the following years. Built on top of the C and C++ languages, but designed to be easier to use, it has a vast set of libraries for performing different tasks.
Microsoft designed it as the official language of its .NET framework. Anything written in the .NET framework runs in Windows, which makes C# one of the official languages of Windows development. With the introduction of .NET Core, C# can now be used to create apps on macOS, Linux, and even Raspberry Pi.
1. C# Is Easy to Learn
Despite having a similar name to notoriously hard-to-learn languages like C and C++, C# is much friendlier to novices. C# programming is object-orientated which some people believe to be easier to understand for beginners.
While readable enough to be clear to beginners, the layout and functionality of C# make it a perfect language to get a wider understanding on programming as a whole. Our guide to object orientated programming will help explain this programming concept.
C# is also a safe language to learn. Low-level languages like C and C++ will carry out almost any instruction so long as it compiles—even if those instructions cause serious damage to your operating system. C# checks code at compilation and throws errors and warnings to stop this happening.
C# also manages memory automatically, rather than having to allocate and then de-allocate memory for your data. Not having to worry about low-level computing makes learning less complicated for novice coders.
2. C# Has a Large Online Community
Learning C# has never been easier. Alongside Microsoft’s extensive and well-maintained documentation, there is a large community of online teachers. YouTube videos and blogs cover every aspect of C# programming from beginner to expert.
The Microsoft Virtual Academy also provide official tutorials for the C# language and development for Windows and mobile devices. Stack Overflow—arguably the most important website for coders—was written in C#, so it’s no surprise it has a huge community on the site.
3. It’s Backed by Microsoft
At the time of writing, C# is the fourth most popular language according to the PYPL (PopularitY of Programming Language Index). It was the sixth most in-demand language of 2018 on Indeed.com, and with Microsoft’s backing, it isn’t likely to stop being in demand any time soon.
The language has been in active development for nearly 20 years, and new features are being added to it all the time. C# can use the powerful LINQ library, designed for high-level control of data structures and objects in your code. In short, the language is intended to help with the things programmers do every day.
Visual Studio, Microsoft’s integrated development environment (IDE), was written in C#. While you can program using any language in Visual Studio, it’s optimal use is C# development.
4. Unity Game Development
For many, the real draw of C# is its place as the language of the Unity game engine. Unity’s popularity continues to rise, and it consistently butts shoulders with the industry standard Unreal Engine. It’s easy to see why, as it is free to use for small developers.
The use of C# as a language is also a big draw, compared to the faster but much harder to learn C++ employed by Unreal.
Unity is also easy to learn, with a vast online community of YouTube tutorials, forum posts, and blogs. Many people learn C# through Unity while in the pursuit of making their first game. The project-based nature of game development, along with its goal-driven nature make it the perfect way to get hands-on experience with the C# language for beginners.
5. Create Cross-Platform Software
Windows still dominate the market share for operating systems. C# has been in use for almost 20 years to create Windows applications on the .NET framework. Microsoft’s language and development tools like Visual Studio are, perhaps unsurprisingly, the best way to design applications for Windows.
Microsoft recently introduced .NET Core as an open source simplified version of the .NET framework. Free, and easy to install, it allows cross-platform development. This means any developer can create console and web apps on any operating system.
6. ASP.NET and ASP.NET Core
ASP.NET is the second largest back-end framework on the internet, only beaten by PHP. ASP.NET is Microsoft’s application service for dynamic web pages, and C# is the primary language used to program with the ASP.NET framework.
As a C# programmer, you’d be working with the ASP.NET framework to create Web APIs (Application Program Interfaces) to serve data to your website’s users dynamically.
The release of .NET Core also extended to ASP.NET. The Core version of ASP.NET allows for even more flexibility for web development, as it will run on any platform. Instead of creating your back-end on Windows for a Windows server, you can now develop ASP.NET Core MVC (Model View Controller) websites on macOS or Linux, for any server.
7. Make Apps for Android and iOS
Android development usually takes place in Java. For iOS development, you would use Swift or Objective C. This means if you wanted to create an app for both types of phone you would need to learn two separate languages. Xamarin is designed to counter this problem.
The framework allows you to code in C#, and compile to both iOS and Android. This means you can use the same code for both platforms, and update both apps from a single codebase. On top of the underlying code for your app being in a single language, Xamarin allows for GUI design on each platform too.
This means that once your app is functioning, you can design a UI which makes sense for users of both Android and iOS phones.
Is C# the Programming Language for You?
C# is a powerful and extensible programming language that is in demand. Whether you take an online course in the language or follow a beginner’s guide to the Unity game engine, you’ll learn essential skills that have many different uses.