C

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The C Programming Language.png

A weakly typed imperative language in the CPL branch of the Algol family of programming languages, the predecessor to C++ and a direct descendant of BCPL although it uses a very different syntax. Currently the world's second most popular programming language after Java and that alongside its widespread use as a systems language has meant that most C developments systems available have seen a lot of maintenance and are therefore in a relatively good standing when it comes to support for modern CPU architectures and systems vis a vis some other languages.

C is often erroneously described as being "closer to the hardware" than other languages, and this is used to explain why it is faster and less portable than "language x". In fact C is no closer or further from the metal than any other similar language in the Algol branch, no more or less portable and no faster or slower either. What C is however is a systems language much like PL/I, i.e. it is designed from the outset to be able to program any function that a computer system requires and therefore provides a number of low level functions that are designed to aid in systems programming but are not necessarily useful in day to day programming.

This is in contrast to a number of other languages like Pascal that are domain specific or in other words are designed to perform well inside a specific functionality domain. This includes application, simulation, scripting or teaching languages et cetera, and these are not or were not originally meant to be used to write systems software with although you can coax them to do so in many cases or extend them to encapsulate functions needed for systems software.

But even though C was designed from the outset as a systems language it does have some peculiar deficiencies that have never been fixed altogether, it is much slower than most other Algol family languages in doing I/O, to a point where even interpreted versions of Pascal and Basic can be considerably faster performing I/O than compiled C code. For this reason C has never really caught on as a programming language on mainframes and most minicomputer systems to the degree it has on PC's and UNIX systems, especially if they have registered I/O and file systems. Those systems rely to a much higher degree on throughput than processing power vis-a-vis PC's and workstations, so languages like FORTRAN and PL/I have tended to survive in those environments.

OS/2 implementations of C

There was also a port of Comeau C++ 3.x that was functional but never released as a product, although a few examples got released into the wild.

Interpreter

C libraries

If the compiler you use supports both C and C++, you can use C libraries with your C++ programs and vise versa, however using C++ libraries from C can be a bit kludgey and can require you to write bindings, while using C libraries with C++ is less problematic it can also require you to write some interfaces, take a look at the C++ page for available C++ libraries.

Graphics and UI libraries

  • Cairo - 2D graphics library - Open source - Current
  • C-scape Interface Management System - Screen painter and UI library - Commercial - Discontinued
  • Greenleaf Data Windows - Text mode windows & UI - Commercial - Discontinued
  • IBM SAA Common User Access Controls Library/2 - Commercial - Discontinued
  • Jpeglib - Read/write JPEG graphic files - Open source - Current
  • Libpng - Read/write PNG files - Open source - Current
  • nCurses - Text UI library - Open Source - Current
  • Neuron Data Open Interface - Screen painter/UI toolkit - Commercial - Discontinued
  • Panel Plus II - Screen painter and UI library - Commercial - Current
  • Pixman - Low level graphics library - Open source - Current
  • Public Domain Curses - Text UI library - Open Source - Current
  • SVGA-Kit and VESA-EMX - Graphic libraries - Open source - Discontinued
  • Simple Directmedia Layer - Multimedia - Open Source - Current
  • WebM libvpx - VP8/VP9 streaming video - Open Source - Current
  • XVT - Screen painter and UI library - Commercial - Discontinued

Database libraries

  • C/Database Toolchest - Database creation and maintenance - Commercial - Current
  • dbfLIB - xBase database lib. - Commercial - Discontinued
  • e_Db - Database engine - Commercial - Discontinued
  • Lattice dBC III - xBase database lib. - Commercial - Discontinued.
  • libdbf - reads dbf files - Open source - Discontinued.

Other libraries

  • Andy's Dynamic Link Library - Cross platform DLL's - Open source - Current
  • cstring - String manipulation - Open source - Current
  • CUtil - Common OS/2 functions - Open source - Current
  • Eco Common Lisp - Embedded scripting language - Open source - Discontinued
  • e_Comm - Communications and networking - Commercial - Discontinued
  • e_Fs - Virtual file system - Commercial - Discontinued
  • FFTW - Fast Fourier Transforms - Open Source - Current
  • Lattice Comm Library - ANSI C communication library - Commercial - Discontinued
  • LC-Port - Lattice C porting lib. - Commercial - Discontinued
  • libcURL Internet comms lib. - Open Source - Current
  • Libxml2 - XML parser - Open source - Current
  • Libxslt - XSLT parser - Open source - Current
  • LZO - Compression lib. - Open Source - Current
  • LZ4 - Compression lib. - Open Source - Current
  • OpenSSL - SSL & encryption - Open Source - Current
  • POSIX Pthreads - BSD Pthreads library - Open Source - Discontinued
  • Public Domain Project C Library - Alternative CLIB - Open Source - Current
  • shwild - Wildcard pattern matching - Open Source - Current
  • S-Lang - Embeddable macro/script lang. - Open Source - Current
  • Snappy - Compression lib. - Open Source - Current
  • The Standard Function Library - Generic library - Open Source - Discontinued

Foreign libraries with C bindings

Libraries written in other programming languages that have bindings that allow them to be called as a library from a C program. This does not include DLLs or WPS code.

  • Snappy - Compression lib. - Open Source - Current.

C source code snippets, archives and collections

Small programs or routines that you can integrate into your own programs or study to learn from, but are not delivered in library form.

GUI and application generators with C output

  • General Application Workbench - GUI, animation, help and SQL - Commercial - Discontinued
  • Hockware VisPro/C - GUI Creator - Commercial - Discontinued
  • Intersolv GA Workbench
  • Panel Plus II - Screen painter and UI library - Commercial - Current
  • PCYACC/2 - CASE too with C output, targeted towards generating parsers etc. - Commercial - Discontinued
  • Vestronix Pro C - Database and spreadsheet application generator - Commercial - Discontinued

Translators that generate C output

Code verifiers, beautifiers, visualisers and other C source code utilities

  • CC-Rider C++ - Commercial - Discontinued - Static analyser, beautifier and visualiser.
  • DOC++ - Automatic document generator - Open source - Discontinued
  • Ephedra - C/C++ to Java - Open source - Discontinued
  • Exuberant ctags - Creates index files out of C source files - Open source - Current
  • SourceLink - Commercial - Discontinued - Browser/Editor/Visualiser.
  • Source Mapper - Open source - Discontinued - Visualiser.
Static analyser
  • PC-Lint - Commercial - Discontinued
  • Splint - Open source - Current

OS/2 text & programmers editors with C support

  • Boxer - C support included by default - Commercial - Discontinued
  • BRIEF - C support included by default - Commercial - Discontinued
  • Elvis - C syntax support included by default - Open source - Current
  • Enhanced Editor - Has syntax highlighting, auto-formatting and automatic code summary for C.
  • FTE - Has support for syntax highlighting, code folding and syntax-aware autoindent.
  • jEdit - Java based - Open source - Current
  • Lugaru Epsilon - C syntax highlighting, code folding and syntax-aware autoindent. - Commercial
  • NEdit - XFree86 - Autoindent, autocomplete and syntax highlighting.
  • Preditor/2 - C template with syntax highlighting - Commercial - Discontinued.
  • SourceLink - Commercial - Discontinued - Browser/Editor/Visualiser.

Applications with a C programming interface

C like scripting languages

Note that this does not include full interpreters like Cint, but either languages squarely intended to be scripted and/or embeddable interpreters.

DOS implementations of C

Compilers

  • Aztec C86 by Manx Software Systems - Commercial - Discontinued
  • Borland Turbo C - Commercial, some versions now freeware
  • C386 - Open source - Current
  • Computer Innovations C86 - Commercial - Discontinued
  • C/86 - Simple single pass C compiler from Norell Data Systems - Discontinued
  • Desmet C - Was commercial - now open source
  • Dev86dos - Open source - Current - Kludgy
  • ECO-C88 - Commercial - Discontinued
  • EMX Compiler - Open Source - Discontinued
  • IBM PC C Compiler - Commercial - Discontinued
  • Intel 386/486 C Code Builder Kit - Commercial - Discontinued
  • LADSoft CC386 - Open source - Discontinued
  • Lattice C - Commercial - Discontinued
  • Let's C - Commercial - Discontinued - Primarily intended for educational purposes
  • LSI-C86 - Commercial - Current
  • Mark Williams C - Commercial - Discontinued
  • Metaware High C/C++ - Commercial - Discontinued
  • Microsoft C - Commercial - Discontinued
  • Microsoft QuickC - Commercial - Discontinued
  • MIX C - Commercial - Discontinued
  • NDP C - Commercial - Discontinued
  • OpenWatcom C/C++ - Open Source - Current
  • Pacific C - Commercial - Discontinued - Was shareware is now freeware
  • Portable C - Open source - DOS and cross compilation for 68000 and AMD RISC processors
  • Power C - Commercial - Current
  • Sphinx C-- - Minimalistic C - Open source - Discontinued
  • SuperC - Commercial - Discontinued
  • TCC - Open source - Discontinued - Cross compilation from Windows or Linux only.
  • TopSpeed C - Commercial - Discontinued
  • Wizard C - Commercial - Discontinued
  • Zortech C++ - Commercial - Discontinued

Interpreters

  • Cint - Open source - Current - Interpreter from CERN, intended for educational use
  • Gimpel Software C-pret
  • Rational Instant-C
  • Lifeboat Associates RUN/C

DOS libraries

  • C/Database Toolchest - Library for database creation and maintenance - Commercial - Current
  • e_Db - Database engine - Commercial - Discontinued
  • Greenleaf Data Communications - Commercial - Discontinued
  • Greenleaf Data Windows - Text mode windows & UI - Commercial - Discontinued
  • The Greenleaf functions - Commercial - Discontinued
  • libdbf - reads dbf files - Open source - Discontinued
  • Public Domain Curses - Text UI library - Open Source - Current
  • Public Domain Project C Library - Alternative CLIB - Open Source - Current
  • The Standard Function Library - Generic library - Open Source - Discontinued
  • Vitamin C - Multi-platform UI library - Commercial - Discontinued

DOS C database bindings

  • Empress - Commercial - Discontinued

DOS text & programmers editors with C support

  • Boxer - C support included by default - Commercial - Discontinued
  • BRIEF - Commercial - Discontinued
  • Elvis - C syntax support included by default - Open source - Current
  • FTE - Has support for syntax highlighting, code folding and syntax-aware autoindent.

Implementations that run under WinOS/2

  • Microsoft C - Commercial - Discontinued - Cross compilation from DOS or OS/2 only.
  • OpenWatcom C/C++ - Open Source - Current
  • TopSpeed C - Commercial - Discontinued - Cross compilation from DOS or OS/2 only.

WinOS/2 compatible libraries

  • C/Database Toolchest - Library for database creation and maintenance - Commercial - Current - Note that the correct library for Win16b development is called the DOS library (but contains Win 16b libs as well) and not the Windows one.
  • e_Db - Database engine - Commercial - Discontinued
  • libdbf - reads dbf files - Open source - Discontinued
  • Public Domain Curses - Text UI library - Open Source - Current

Publications

Not as you might think a discussion of the Microsoft C library, but rather a collection of C routines and utilities written in C, most of them UNIX derived or inspired and a couple of them uncommon.

Local articles

  • Finn Overgaard Hansen: 12 Common C Errors - Outdated but still somewhat useful especially for beginners and intermediate users.

Tutorials and other learning material

  • EDM/2 has its own C tutorial, it's called simply Introduction to C Programming, and was written by Carsten Whimster:
    Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
  • Aalto University and the University of Helsinki have a free course in C called Aalto-C
  • MIX Software has a number of video courses available that focus on teaching C, these are focused primarily towards the beginner, note that these are delivered in VHS cassette format.

Links

USENET

Frequently Asked Question lists (FAQ's)

Standards

  • Early versions do not follow any standard apart from the C Reference Manual that was included with the UNIX system release and there were lots of early C versions out there that were incompatible with each other, with every American university appearing to have its own minor variant for a while.
  • In 1978 Brian Kernighan and Dennis Ritchie published "The C Programming Language" book which became an informal standard, referred to as "K&R C", the only problem being that it is not 100% internally coherent.
  • ANSI committee X3J11 was formed in 1983 to standardise the language, compiler manufacturers started to talk about "ANSI C" almost immediately based upon drafts, but actually the ANSI X3.159-1989 standard was not ratified until 1989. This means that when working with old "ANSI C" compatible tools and code they may differ somewhat from the standard as they have been designed from working drafts rather than the finished standard.
  • The ANSI X3.159-1989 was ratified by ISO in 1990 with only minor changes and that is the reason that the basic C standard is sometimes known as either C89 or C90
  • The ISO/IEC JTC1/SC22/WG14 working group produced the ISO/IEC 9899:1999 which is known informally as "C99", note that there are three later additions/amendments to the standard and therefore not all C99 code is 100% compatible.
  • In 2011 the ISO/IEC 9899:2011 or "C11" standard was introduced, while there is some language changes, the main changes are in the standard libraries.