Getting Started with C, C++

C, C++

C# (pronounced as C Sharp) is a new object oriented programming language, very similar to Java, with the power of C++ and smoothness of Visual Basic. This language was developed by Microsoft as a part of their .NET initiative, for building a wide range of enterprise applications that run on the .NET framework. C# cleans up many of the syntactic peculiarities of C++ without diluting much of its flavor. You can say that C# is the combination of 70% Java, 10% C++, 5% Visual Basic and 15% new.

In today's web economy, businesses are always forced to respond to competitive pressure faster than ever before. Developers are asked to reduce cycle time and enhance the program with incremental revisions rather than a single huge version. C# has been designed keeping these in mind. The language is designed to help developers do more with fewer lines of code and lesser error opportunities.


In June 2000, Microsoft announced this new programming language called C# along with .NET. This strongly typed object oriented language was designed to give the optimum blend of simplicity, expressiveness and performance.

The C# language was built with the perception of many languages, most notably Java and C++. It was co-authored by Anders Hejlsberg and Scott Wiltamuth. Hejlsberg's previous experience in programming language and framework design can be readily seen in the syntax of the C# language.

The name

According to the ECMA-334 C# language specification, the name of this language is written in Latin Capital Letter C followed by the Number Sign # and pronounced as C Sharp. It is said that Microsoft perhaps named this language C# may be to mean evolution from the C++ language, with the # symbol resembling two ++ symbols merged together or four + symbols arranged together.

C# and .NET platform

The .NET platform is centered on a Common Language Runtime or CLR and a set of libraries, which can be exploited by a wide variety of languages, which are able together by all compiling to an intermediate language (IL). C# and .NET are quite symbiotic: some features of C# are there to work well with .NET while some features of .NET work well with C# (though .NET aims to work well with many languages).

C# and .NET are closely coupled. In fact, every application you create will begin with the connection to the .NET framework. Though developers can write unmanaged code under certain circumstances, but most people use c# for its intended purpose of writing distributed applications. It is the Common Language Runtime or CLR that allows such interoperability in .NET. Within this runtime C# shares the following set of resources:

  • Object oriented programming features like inheritance, polymorphism, exception handling, garbage collection etc.
  • Security model
  • Type system
  • All .NET base classes and many .NET framework classes
  • Development, debugging and profiling tools
  • Execution and code management

C# and Java

C# has inherited a lot of Java benefits such as Garbage Collection, restricting pointer usage etc. However, it has also kept a lot of the C++ elegancy that Java threw away as well as some powerful VB features.

Below is a list of some of the features that C# share with Java:

  • Compiles code into machine independent language independent code to run the application in a managed execution environment.
  • Garbage collection coupled with the elimination of pointers
  • Powerful reflection capabilities
  • No header files, you can declare one class before another with circular dependencies
  • Classes descend from object and must be allocated on the heap with new keyword
  • Thread support by putting a lock on objects at the time of entering code marked as locked/synchronized
  • Interfaces, with multiple inheritance or single inheritance implementations

C# Features

C# is the programming language that depends strongly on Common Language Infrastructure (CLI), as it was designed to take advantage of the features that CLI provides. Applications written in C# require an implementation of the Common Language Runtime (CLR) to execute.

Type Safety

C# is type safe language. This means, for instance, you cannot use any uninitialized variables in C#. The compiler will notify you if you try to use a variable before you have initialized it to some valid value.

With C# you can no longer just walk past the end of an array, as you have been able to do in C and C++. Syntax for array declaration is different. For example, instead of int a[5]; C# declares array as int() a = new int[5];

Object Oriented

In C#, even a simple data type can be treated as objects. This means an int can have methods associated with it. Look at the code below, where ToString method has been used to get a string value for an int.

int Counter=10;
Console.Write (Counter.ToString());

Simplified Syntax

C# attempts to simplify the syntax to be more consistent and more logical while also removing some of the more complex features of C++. E.g. pointers are not required in C#. As a type safe language, C# does not allow direct memory manipulation, so pointers are not needed.

Header files have also been removed from C#. The namespace operator :: and the reference operator -> have been replaced with a single operator, the period (.).

C# also removes memory management issues by using .NET's garbage collection scheme. Items that are no longer referenced are marked for garbage collection, and the framework can regain this memory as needed.

XML Comments

C# supports adding XML comments to code. These comments are placed in XML format and can then be used as needed to document your code. This documentation can include example code, parameters, reference to other topics etc.


Namespaces in C# replace a lot of the headaches from the COM world. Using C#, you simply import a namespace and then begin using the classes in that component -- no registry lookups or COM plumbing required.

Cross language capabilities

C# has the ability to allow you to interoperate with any other language on the .NET platform. It also supports the concept of error handling across different languages; you can access any .NET exceptions, which are consistent across any .NET language.

Getting Started

To start working with C# you need the following:

  • A .NET compatible operating system like Windows 2000/2003/XP
  • The .NET framework (runtime platform that sits on the operating system) and SDK (development kit in which you actually develop .NET applications)
  • C# compiler and an editor.

There are several options for obtaining a compiler for writing C# programs. A free option is to download .NET Framework SDK and use Notepad. Of course there are many editors and IDE options available like Microsoft Visual Studio .NET and Borland C#Builder for you to choose for your development environment. After installing the framework and SDK, it is important to know the path of the directories where they have been installed.

This is how a program is developed using C#:

  1. The actual code is written in an editor such as Notepad or an IDE such as VS .Net.
  2. Once the file or project is saved, the CLR engine of the .NET framework compiles it.
  3. In the first step of compilation, C# source code gets converted into Intermediate Language (IL). This is then converted into CPU specific native language.

We will start off with a real simple C# application. This will explain some of the basic concepts like how to start a program, how to structure the code and gain some familiarity with the syntax of a C# program.

In C# language, everything is built as a class. Therefore a program starts with the class keyword followed by a name.

class MyShop

The actual building of a class starts with an opening curly bracket { and a closing curly bracket }™

The assignments of a program written in C# are carried in entities called methods. A method is simply a section of code that takes care of a particular detail for the functionality of a program. To create a method, you must specify a name, which is followed by an opening and closing parenthesis.

class MyShop


Here the method is Sell. A method's job is to carry a specific assignment within a program and it could provide a value once the assignment has been carried. If the method doesn't give back a value, then it is considered void. The type of value that a method can provide or return is written on the left side of the method name.

class MyShop
void Sell()

The assignment that a method carries is included between an opening { and a closing }.

The most regularly used method of a C# program is called Main. Therefore, the minimum you can write a program with, is as follows:

using System

public class MyShop
public static void Main()
  Console.WriteLine("Welcome to My Shop!");

The using keyword is very useful when you use a number of classes defined in the system; instead of writing System.Console at line 6 you can write only Console.

Now save the file as Welcome.cs.

A file for a C# program has the extension .cs

The effect is to write the text Welcome to My Shop! to the output console. Now at DOS prompt, go to the directory where you saved the file Welcome.cs and type the following in command line:

csc.exe Welcome.cs

This compiles your source code and produces a file named Welcome.exe, which can then be executed. As you run this file you will see

Welcome to My Shop!

Other programs can be compiled similarly by substituting their file name instead of Welcome.cs.

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