Understanding the Differences Between C++ and C#

Understanding the Differences Between C++ and C#
Understanding the Differences Between C++ and C#

Introduction to C++

Originally developed by Bjarne Stroustrup in the year 1985 (publication) by enhancing C and adding the object-oriented programming concept to the language at cost of some speed. It is an intermediate-level language having strong application building features and most of the GUI and legacy applications are based on C++. It was developed from C to support higher applications of security systems, robust server applications, etc.

Introduction to C#

C# or C sharp is also an object-oriented programming language based on C developed in the year 2000 at the Professional Developers Conference but similar to Java it compiles the code into byte-code instead of machine code. It has much more features similar to Java-like garbage collection, initialising variables, etc. It is mostly used for client and server development in the .NET framework.

Well, though both are based on C there are vast differences between the languages and that’s what we will be discussing in the following section.

Before moving forward with the difference, let me jot down some applications which were built using these languages and you can comprehend the power of these.

Also read about Difference Between C & C++ Programming Languages.

Applications

  • Applications that use C++: Every popular app like Amazon, Spotify, Youtube, which is developed with C++ programming language support. A major part of our daily use, Google Search Engine is built using C++
  • Applications that use C#: Popular applications like Microsoft Office, Skype, paintbrush, etc are developed using C#. The most popular game development engine Unity uses C# support.

But then which one to choose between these for your project or application?

FeatureC++C#
Object Oriented designProvides a low level of abstraction.Higher abstraction.
Binary Memory SizeC++ binary source file is faster to create and less in size.C# involves libraries and overhead costs to interpret the code to bytecode files and hence take more time and space.
Garbage CollectionManual memory management.Automatic memory management and garbage collection.
PerformanceC++ is much faster in terms of performance.C# is slower due to overhead costs.
Platform TargetMost applications are built without any restrictions in windows, mac, Linux, etc.Only windows support applications can be built
Code CompilationIt converts code to machine code directly for execution.C# code is interpreted into ByteCode first.
Projects & standalone applicationC++ is used to create an application that is expected to be efficient and might require hardware access and standalone applications can also be built.Cannot be used to create standalone applications and for now it supports the Windows operating system only.

Object-Oriented difference between C++ and C#

The syntax is a bit different but both programming languages execute on object-oriented principles. Access specifiers are a key difference between these. C++ provides public, protected, private as access specifiers whereas C# includes public, protected, private, internal, protected internal. These extra two specifiers are responsible for owning assembly/packages and derived classes respectively.

C# uses a single-rooted class hierarchy for object inheritance and it derives from Object class if the parent class does not exist.

This is not true for languages like C++, PHP, etc.

In C++ strings are considered as a C-style array of characters and supported by a string class whereas in C# the string type is treated as a reference with an instance of the String class which makes string objects immutable. Although the basic syntax remains the same here:

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String firstname = “Coding Ninjas”;

Another interesting difference to note is how the input and output work in C#. Here, it is more likely similar to JavaScript like we use Console.Write() and Console.Read() to write and read something in the console respectively.

Garbage Collection

The major feature that differs C# from C++ is the garbage collection methodology, like Java, C# also has garbage collection classes unlike manual memory management of C++. These classes automatically allocate and deallocate memory for objects declared in C#. C# use public static class GC for inheriting all properties of the Garbage Collection class. Hence, there are no leaks in memory for programs written in C#.

Binary Memory Size

C# is much heavier than C++ due to its overhead cost and libraries in comparison to lightweight C++. The code in C# is interpreted into bytecode and compiled by CLR. It supports the BinaryWriter class to interpret into Binary files and methods that simplify writing primitive data types to a stream.

BinaryWriter(), BinaryWriter(stream) are some of these packages.

Performance

As discussed in binary memory size, C# has much overhead cost and hence C++ is faster in performance. Hence, C++ is generally used in applications and network analysis where performance is an important quality factor. C# can also be used in applications like word processing. Although the maintenance requirement is minimal in C# as compared to C++.

Platform Type

C++ is widely used for various operating systems whereas C# still has limited use for windows operating systems.  C++ is used in windows, Linux, Mac, etc.

Compilation

C++ is a compiled language that converts source code into binary data files in comparison to C# which converts the file first to bytecode and then executes it. This also takes more time in C# as it consists of libraries and overheads responsible for interpretations.

C++ Code Execution Process

C# code execution process

Projects and standalone applications

C++ is used where direct interaction with hardware is required like server-side development, networking, gaming, etc, and can be used to develop standalone applications. C# is used generally for applications of the web, mobile, desktop applications, etc but cannot be used to develop standalone applications.

If you are building some application that requires more hardware access control then you should always go for C++ as it supports embedded programming too. Although C# has now also been used in Game engine development like Unity, CryEngine (Crysis Game), etc.

Read about Importance of learning Data Structures for C++.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is C# or is C ++ better?

It vastly depends on the use case, if your application does not need much speed then C# else C++ can be used.

Is it better to learn C++ or C#?

C# is not used to create standalone applications and thus reduce the chances of overall learning, although Microsoft is trying to make it cross-platform, so it is better to choose C++ for general applications.

Which is easier C++ or C#?

Both are derivatives and enhancements of C++ and C# but C++ is easier to learn in comparison to C# due to the availability of more resources.

Is C++ necessary to learn before C#?

It is not necessary to learn C++ before C#, anyone can be learned after a brief understanding of the c language.

Is C# easier than Python?

No, by far Python is much easier to learn thanks to its reduced code structures. Python is easier for a beginner to grasp.

Is C# good for beginners?

C# can be good for beginners who are going for a particular application development domain.

Key Takeaways

This is a brief overview of the difference between C++ and C# programming languages. Both the languages have tradeoffs and can be used for a specific purpose, although if you are interested in a wholesome application development project then it will be much better with C++ whereas for the development of desktop application you should prefer C#.

Start learning C++ Foundation for free from Coding Ninjas.

Also note that for developing games, I will always prefer C++ due to its low-level programming and hardware accessing capabilities.

By Aniruddha Guin