One of the biggest mistakes you can do is to choose the wrong programming language for your development project. With an increasing number of ‘popular’ programming languages, this choice is even more difficult. C# and C++ are both popular programming languages. But do you know if one is better than the other?

Of course, you can get help from a technology expert who can assess your project needs and tell you which programming language would work the best for you. However, keeping in mind the basic differences and similarities can help you make an informed decision.

What’s there to C? Introduction to C++ and C#

As you might already be aware, C is regarded as the earliest high-level programming language developed back in 1972. Even though with newer programming languages gaining popularity, C is now classified as a low-level programming language, both C++ and C# have evolved from C. C++ was made public in 1985 whereas C# was brought to programmers’ attention much later in 2000.

What is C++?

C++ was developed by Bjarne Stroustrup at AT&T Bell Labs. Stroustrup believed in the power of C but wanted a programming language that was similar to C, but stronger. He developed C++ to be an object oriented language with class functionality. But C++ can be thought of as an intermediate language that can combine both procedural code and object oriented code.

What is C#?

C# is also an object oriented programming language. It was developed by Anders Hjelsberg and released by Microsoft to compete against Java. It thus has many similarities to Java. But it is also inspired by C++, and by its way C. Thus, there are similarities in the syntax of C# and C.

Similarities between C++ and C#

Since both C++ and C# evolved from C, they do have some similarities. However, it should be noted that all three programming languages – C, C++, and C# are distinct.

  • Syntax – Both languages having evolved from C, share similar syntax.
  • Object oriented – Both C++ and C# are object oriented, even though C++ can also work on procedural code.
  • Compiled languages – Both C++ and C# are compiled languages, meaning that the codes need to be converted to binaries before they can be run on a PC or the server.

Differences between C++ and C#

C++ and C# were developed with different purposes making them inherently different languages in spite of their similarities. 

The below table shows the key differences between C++ and C#.

C++C#
TypeLow-level programming languageHigh-level programming language
CompilationCompiles to machine codeCompiles to CLR (Common language runtime)
Memory managementManual memory managementAutomatic memory management
InheritanceSupports multiple inheritances, a class can extend more than one class at a timeDoes not support multiple inheritances through classes
Difficulty levelConsidered more difficult to learn and code inEasier to learn and code in
Platform dependencyPlatform-independentUsually works only on Windows
ApplicationConsole applications, gaming, applications that work directly with hardware, server-side applications, networking, device driversMobile applications, Windows applications, Web applications, gaming
PerformanceFaster codeComparatively slower
SafetyWill let you code and run anything even if it is potentially damaging to the systemWill give compiler warnings to avoid any serious damages

But what do the above key differences mean when it comes to choosing a programming language among the two? 

To compare C++ and C# objectively would be like comparing the proverbial apples and oranges. One is not necessarily better than the other. But of course, one might be more suited than the other for a particular development project.

Below are some scenarios where both the programming languages can be used. We go over which language is more appropriate for use and when.

Programming language for better performance

If you are looking for better performance, C++ is a good choice. It’s a lightweight code that compiles faster. It compiles directly into machine code as opposed to C# that first converts into Microsoft Intermediate Language and then the machine code. However, the speed of compilation for C++ cannot be a major decisive factor because the overall performance of the final applications depends on several other factors, too.

Programming language for lesser development time

If you are looking for faster development times, C# would be a better choice. Due to the compiler warnings, C# is also less prone to errors. It is also an easier language to code in. This definitely speeds up the development time. 

Programming language for gaming applications

Both C++ and C# are used in gaming applications. But C++ is a better choice when you are looking for better hardware performance. But for modern gaming applications on the .Net ecosystem, C# would be preferred.

Programming language for web development

C# is usually the more apt choice for web development, being a high-level language. Similarly, for Windows applications, it goes without saying that C# is the preferred choice. 

Programming language based on talent availability

Firstly, C++ is a more difficult language to learn and master compared to C#. Secondly, the number of C# developers is higher than C++ developers. So even though the number of C++ developers in the world is easily over 5.5 million, finding highly skilled C++ developers is difficult.

Programming language for cost-effective development

Both programming languages have their pros and cons. Even though C++ is a lower-level language and has its limitations, it can still be used for creating fast server-side applications. However, using C++ might not always give you cost-effective development. 

The Final Verdict

Choosing the right programming language is a subjective choice based on a lot of factors related to your specific project. Hence, you need to consider all factors before choosing the programming language for development. Speaking to technology experts who can weigh the pros and cons of both languages specific to your project can help you make the right choice.

The choice also depends on the proficiency of the available developers. It is well-known that C++ developers can transition to C# easily, but the opposite is not true. The skills of the developers you use not only impact the current development but also future maintenance of the code. If you are planning to use existing developers for the new project, take into consideration their choice and level of comfort in both C++ and C#.

Want expert unbiased advice on the programming language to be used? Get a free Gap Assessment by getting in touch with our technology experts. 

Tarun Mahajan

Tarun Mahajan

Enterprise Sales Engineer and digital transformation advisor.

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