The C programming language can easily be viewed as an anomaly. Unlike some languages, it has really stood the test of time, remaining relevant after more than 45 years. Plus, C is consistently popular, with many developers still enjoying the language to this day.
However, even with its longevity, that does not mean C does not experience change. With that in mind, here is what you need to know about the C programming language this year.
C18: The New Standard
In late 2018, a new C standard was ratified. Labeled C18, the updated standard is not necessarily something that is dramatically different from prior versions. Instead, it includes more fixes, essentially functioning as more of a continuation of C17 than anything else. In fact, there hasn’t been a significant change to C since C11, where multi-threading support, variable length arrays, anonymous structures and unions, along with a few other differences became official.
By and large, only compiler writers who have a desire to be 100 percent conformant will need to take a deep dive into C18. Nearly everyone else will be able to continue per the usual.
C Remains the Common Language
C is still considered the lowest-level portable language. As a result, many compilers still output C source code, and will likely continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
Since C is considered a common language, its long-term use is still supported by the community. While C++ has made some headway in recent years, including for open-source compilers, C++ code is usually a bit larger than if C is used. Code size can be important, particularly when it comes to IoT and the use of microcontrollers, allowing C to actually gain market share between 2005 and 2018.
Programmers Support C
While most programmers do not learn C as their first language, C is incredibly popular as a second or third language to pick up. Additionally, it is a functional stepping stone for learning C++, which is technically a superset of C, thanks to how easy C is to pick up by comparison.
As a result, most programmers support using C professionally. This increases the likelihood that they will consider it as a viable option for a variety of projects, as enjoyment and prevalence can play a role. Additionally, it is still encountered by programmers on a regular basis, keeping it highly relevant for them and increasing the odds that they will add it to their repertoire if they do not know C already.
Ultimately, while options like Go and Rust are increasing in popularity and, at times, are considered more modern and better alternatives, C is so integrated into the world of technology that the likelihood it will fade into obscurity remains very slim. C is as much a part of the past as it is the future, and programmers from around the world are not inclined to see that change.
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