Procedural Programming: Everything You Need To Know

Procedural Programming: Everything you need to know
Procedural Programming: Everything you need to know

As a freshman in the coding world, the training starts with procedural programming since these languages are straightforward to grasp and built the foundation of computing.


Procedural programming is simple to use, requires less memory than other programming languages, and works excellent with interpreters and compilers. Sounds good, right?  Let us know more about procedural programming in this article.

Procedural Programming

Procedural programming is derived from imperative programming. Its concept is based on procedure calls. Procedures are nothing but a series of computational steps to be carried out. In Procedural programming, the execution of the instructions takes place step by step. When you use Procedural language, you give instructions directly to your computer and tell it how to reach its goal through processes. Procedural programming focuses on the process rather than data (Object-oriented Programming) and function (Functional Programming). 

The first major procedural programming languages around 1957-1964 were FORTRAN, ALGOL, COBOL, PL/I and BASIC. The procedural Programming paradigm is one of the first paradigms to emerge in the computational world.

Types of Procedural Languages

  1. FORTRAN: It is a Formula Translation. It is a compiled imperative programming language with array-like syntax to help communicate between data and CPU. John Backus and IBM in 1957 originally developed it. It became famous for high-performance computing which later on became part of high-level programming languages. Before Fortran, programming was done in machine language (first-generation) or assembly language (second-generation), in which programmers require to write instructions in binary or hexadecimal arithmetic. 
  1. ALGOL: It stands for Algorithmic Logarithm. It is an imperative programming language. ALGOL was utilized mainly by research computer scientists in the United States and Europe. Its use in commercial applications was restricted by the absence of input/output facilities. The additional reason was the lack of interest of prominent computer vendors in the language.
  1. COBOL: It is an imperative, procedural, and object-oriented programming language. Its primary use is in the business, finance, and administration systems of governments and companies. Due to COBOL’s declining popularity and the retirement of experienced COBOL programmers, programs are migrating to written in modern programming languages. But COBOL is still used in applications deployed on mainframe computers due to its fast processing speed.
  1. BASIC: It is Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code. It is a high-level programming language whose design emphasizes its ease of use. The plan was to enable students other than science and mathematics to use computers. In the mid-1980s, it almost vanished as developers got more options in computer languages such as C and C++.
  1. PASCAL: It is both an imperative and procedural programming language. It is an efficient language that encourages good programming practices using structured programming and data structuring. The origin of the name “Pascal” was in the French mathematician, philosopher, and physicist Blaise Pascal’s honour. Pascal’s design was on the top of the ALGOL 60 language. It became very successful and was taught in university programming languages. Later on. C programming language replaced it during the late 1980s.
  1. C: It is an imperative procedural programming language that supports structure programming, variable scope, recursion, and static type system. It has found lasting use in applications, including operating systems and application software for supercomputers to PLCs and embedded systems. It was designed to compile to provide low-level access to the memory and language to execute machine instructions, everything with minimal support. It was to encourage cross-platform programming. It became the most widely used programming language. As of January 2021, C got the first position in the TIOBE index, which measures the popular programming languages.
  1. ADA: It is an object-oriented high-level programming language that extends from Pascal and other languages. It is statically typed as an imperative procedural programming language. ADA improves code safety and provides maintenance through the compiler to find errors in the runtime. Ada supports runtime checking, parallel processing, exception handling, modular programming mechanisms, and generics. It is meant for embedded and real-time systems. Due to its safety-critical support features, it is not only in use for the military but also in commercial projects where data safety is essential.

Advantages of Procedural programming

  • The programs written are straight forward with precise usage of accumulators and interpreters.
  • The code is compact and reusable.
  • It breaks problems into smaller subproblems, making them accessible and faster to solve.
  • It expands the renewable energy of the program.
  • It utilises CPU storage effectively. 
  • It is more flexible than other alternatives.

Disadvantages of Procedural Programming

  • The procedural program is not recyclable.
  • Information is defenceless.
  • The information is accessible from the whole code resulting in safety issues.
  • It is event-driven programming, not portable to other operating systems. 
  • Programmers need to specialise as each language is suitable for a specific type of application.

Features of Procedural Programming

1. Pre-defined Functions: It is an instruction identified by name. Such as “charAt()” is a pre-defined function that searches for a character in a string at a specific position. There are more pre-defined functions that make competitive programming a little easier. 

2. Local Variables: Local variables are declared in the main structure of a method. You will only be able to access the local variable within the method. In C programming language, this is what local variables are:

void function_1()
    int a, b; // you can use a and b within braces only

void function_2()
    printf("%d\n", a); // ERROR, function_2() doesn't know any variable a

In the above code, two variables, a & b, are declared inside the function_1() that cannot be accessed outside the function, such as function_2(). 

3. Global Variables: They are declared outside all methods to be accessible from anywhere in the code. Let you get familiar with global variables in C:

int a, b = 10;  // declaring and initializing global variables

void func_1()
    printf("From func_1() Global a = %d\n", a);
    printf("From func_1() Global b = %d\n\n", b);

void func_2()
    int a = 5;
    printf("Inside func_2() a = %d\n", a);

In the above code, declaration and initialisation of variables are made in the starting to make it accessible for all the functions in the code.

4. Programming libraries: A programming library is a collection of code written previously to utilise whenever a programmer requires it. 

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5. Modularity: It is a general term that relates to the creation of software in a way that allows individual modules to be developed, often with a standard interface to let modules communicate with each other.

Difference between OOP and procedural programming

Object-Oriented ProgrammingProcedural Programming
It is related to a procedural programming language.It is related to an imperative and structured programming language.
In this paradigm, it is easy to maintain code and modify existing code.In this paradigm, if a sub-procedure has to be modified, it becomes difficult to find and maintain it.
Due to easy maintenance, development time reduces.Due to its complexity, development time increases.
Object-oriented uses objects, classes, messages, correspondingly.Procedural uses procedures, modules, procedure calls.
Object-oriented programming designs can be reused throughout the program.In procedural, designs cannot be reused and recycled throughout the program.
In object-oriented programming, objects and classes can be referenced throughout the program.While solving issues in procedural programming, issues need to be addressed individually.
It is easy to maintain.It is not easy to maintain.
Data hiding is possible, hence more secure than procedural.Data hiding is not possible.
It has four central concepts – Abstraction, Encapsulation, Inheritance and Polymorphism.It has no such concepts as Inheritance.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is procedural programming, for example?

Procedural programming is a part of the programming paradigm that works on a linear or top-down approach. It uses specific procedures to perform computations which its name defines.

Where procedural programming is used?

Some of you might think it is a dinosaur that doesn’t exist anymore. It is not so. Web developers use procedural programming all the time to work on server-side applications and backend platforms.

Is Python a procedural programming language?

Yes, Python is both an object-oriented and procedural programming language. Python is a multi-paradigm; you can write programs that are procedural, object-oriented, or functional.


Procedural programming is from years and will be there for several more years. It is the base of programming languages that are built on top of it. Even the modern programming languages are either completely object-oriented or a combination of object-oriented and procedural programming.

I hope it got you interested to learn more about procedural programming.