Article

What is C# Programming? A Beginner's Guide

Updated on November 14, 2022

C# is a popular language for a variety of reasons, but mainly because it's multi-paradigm language that is versatile, fairly easy to learn and object-oriented. With so many different programming languages to choose from, we thought we’d give you a proper introduction to C# so you can decide if it’s the right fit for your next project.

What Is C#?

C# is a modern, general-purpose programming language that can be used to perform a wide range of tasks and objectives that span over a variety of professions. C# is primarily used on the Windows .NET framework, although it can be applied to an open source platform. This highly versatile programming language is an object-oriented programming language (OOP) and comparably new to the game, yet a reliable crowd pleaser.

When was C# created?

When compared to long-standing languages like Python and PHP, C# is a young addition to the programming family at nearly twenty years old. The language was developed in the year 2000 by Microsoft’s Anders Hejlsberg, a Danish software engineer with a history for popular creations. Anders has taken part in the creation of a handful of dependable programming tools and languages, including Microsoft’s TypeScript and Delphi, a suitable replacement for Turbo Pascal.

As of November 2022, C# ranked #4 on the PYPL Popularity of Programming Language Index, right behind Java and JavaScript. The data used to compile this index is based on how often people search for a tutorial on different programming languages in Google.

C# has also made a consistent appearance in the top ten programming languages in the TIOBE Index, a report that pulls its data from a compilation of popular search engines including Google, YouTube and Bing.

Where did C# get its name?

In the beginning, C# was originally titled COOL, a clever acronym that stood for “C-like Object Oriented Language.” Unfortunately, Microsoft was unable to hang onto the fun name for reasons having to do with trademark law.

C# was originally designed to rival Java. Judging by the quick rise to popularity and the positive response from both new and seasoned developers, it’s safe to say that goal has been achieved.

What is C# used for?

Like other general-purpose programming languages, C# can be used to create a number of different programs and applications: mobile apps, desktop apps, cloud-based services, websites, enterprise software and games. Lots and lots of games. While C# is remarkably versatile, there are three areas in which it is most commonly used.

Windows applications

C# was created by Microsoft for Microsoft, so it’s easy to see why it’s most popularly used for the development of Windows desktop applications. C# applications require the Windows .NET framework in order to function at their best, so the strongest use case for this language is developing applications and programs that are specific to the architecture of the Microsoft platform.

C# for Games

C# might just be one of the best programming languages for gaming. This language is heavily used to create fan-favorite games like Rimworld on the Unity Game Engine.

Just in case you weren’t already aware, Unity is by far the most popular game engine available, on which more than a third of the industry’s best and most commonly-played games were built. C# integrates seamlessly with the Unity engine and can be used on virtually any modern mobile device or console thanks to cross-platform tech like Xamarin.

C# for website development

C# is often used to develop professional, dynamic websites on the .NET platform, or open-source software. So, even if you’re not a fan of the Microsoft architecture, you can still use C# to create a fully-functional website. Because this language is object-oriented, it is often utilized to develop websites that are incredibly efficient, easily scalable and a breeze to maintain.

What apps are made with C#?

Here are a handful of programs and applications written in C# that demonstrate the language’s diversity and reliability:

Advantages of C# Programming

C# provides both new and seasoned programmers with a wealth of different advantages. We’ve outlined our top five favorite benefits below.

C# programming can save you time

Perhaps the greatest advantage is how much time you can save by using C# instead of a different programming language. Being that C# is statically typed and easy to read, users can expect to spend less time scouring their scripts for tiny errors that disrupt the function of the application.

C# also emphasizes simplicity and efficiency, so programmers can spend less time writing complicated stacks of code that are repeatedly used throughout the project. Top it all off with an extensive memory bank and you’ve got a time-effective language that can easily reduce labor hours and help you meet tight deadlines without tossing back that third cup of coffee at 2:00am.

C# is easy to learn

In addition to the time you can save during project development, you’ll also spend less time learning C# as opposed to the more difficult programming languages out there. Thanks to its simplicity and easy-to-use features, C# offers a fairly low learning curve for beginners.

This language makes for a great first step into the field and provides aspiring developers with a comfortable way to become familiar with programming without becoming discouraged and overwhelmed.

C# is scalable and easy to maintain

C# is a programming language that is remarkably scalable and easy to maintain. Because of the strict nature of how static codes must be written, C# programs are reliably consistent, which makes them much easier to adjust and maintain than programs that are written using other languages.

If you ever need to return to an old project written in C#, you’ll be pleased to find that while your processes may have changed over the years, your C# stack has remained the same across the board. There is a place for everything and everything is in its place.

C# has a great community

In the world of coding and programming, the importance of a helpful community on which you can depend simply can’t be overstated. Programming languages aren’t a platform or service with a dedicated help line or convenient IT support. Programmers must rely on the support of others in the same field who have experienced the same roadblocks and frustrations.

One such community of helpful programming experts can be found on StackOverflow. Because this Q&A site was constructed in C#, it’s no surprise that C# developers make up a massive portion of the community where you can go to ask, answer, brainstorm, or vent.

If you prefer to collaborate with like-minded individuals face-to-face, C# also has an extensive community on Meetup.com, where members can join both online and IRL discussions that are scheduled at random or on a consistent basis.

C# is object-oriented

C# is completely object-oriented, which is a rare characteristic for a programming language. Many of the most common languages incorporate object orientation to an extent, but very few have accomplished the magnitude of C# without losing favor from the people.

There are many different advantages to object-oriented programming (or OOP), such as efficiency and flexibility to name a few. Some developers who are unfamiliar with OOP may feel a little reluctant to choose a new language with such a heavy emphasis on it, but don’t worry: understanding object-oriented programming isn’t all that difficult.

C# FAQs

There's a lot to know about C# programming! Here are some of the most commonly asked questions to help you decide whether learning C# is right for you:

Is C# hard to learn?

The learning curve for C# is relatively low when compared to more complex languages like Java, although it’s not quite as simple to learn as Python, the ultimate programming language for those who are brand new to the field. To learn C#, it’s best that you have at least a basic understanding of writing code, even if you have yet to build your first program or application.

C# is a great choice for developers with moderate to advanced experience with writing code. While experts acknowledge the language for being one of moderate complexities, they agree that it’s fairly simple to grasp and excel in. Once you’re introduced to C# and you put in the time to get the hang of it, you can expect to advance quickly from rookie to expert.

This is due to the fact that C# is a high-level language, which means it’s relatively easy to read and write, making it a solid choice for beginners and a convenient option for experts. In addition to readability, C# can also be used to automate complex tasks that require a lot of time to achieve minor results.

This programming language is also statistically-typed, which means that errors are detected before the application goes live. This makes it a lot easier to detect small flaws in your stack that would otherwise be almost imperceptible—not to mention incredibly aggravating.

While C# can be put to good use in the hands of all kinds of programmers, a large chunk of the language’s user base is comprised of those who are partial to the Microsoft platform.

Should I learn C# or Java?

C# code is generally executed more quickly than Java, although you may find the difference in speed insignificant. As we mentioned earlier, C# is great for gaming and is used on the popular Unity platform. Language integrated query from Microsoft may also make C# preferable for data analysts. 

Should I learn C# or Python?

Both C# and Python are object-oriented, easy to learn, and in high demand. They have many similar applications as well, but the advantages of C# are better performance and a consistent syntax that's easy to learn, often making it a better choice for enterprise-level programs. Python's strengths include a diverse library for building a wide range of apps. 

Where can I see an example of C# code?

Pluralsight offers a huge number of courses on C and C# sharp programming that will walk you through many different examples and use cases for C#. If you just want a quick glance at the syntax, check out Wikipedia's C Sharp page or Microsoft's official C# page

Use C# to further your career

No doubt you’ve found programming languages that offer their own set of advantages, maybe even a few of the same advantages of using C#. There are comparable languages out there, like Python, that also provide simplicity and other benefits. What is special about C#?

C# comes with plenty of career opportunities

As indie game development continues to rise and more and more websites are built on the ASP.NET framework, experts predict there will be no shortage of career opportunities for C#-savvy developers. Whether you want to design websites, build desktop applications, or create addicting games, you won’t have a difficult time finding the perfect job that lists C# as a requirement for the position.

The future of C# looks bright

With a growing interest in learning C# and a foundation rooted deep within the Microsoft platform, the future looks bright for this particular programming language. Because of its popularity, versatility and existing creations, it’s safe to assume that Microsoft will give continual attention to keeping the language up to date and relevant.

C# is loved by programmers

According to a Stack Overflow survey from 2017, programmers rated C# is among the most loveable programming languages available today—right behind Python. So, if you’re sick and tired of dealing with more complicated languages, or you’re apprehensive about committing to a job in programming, consider switching paths to focus on C# for a more satisfying process.