Should i learn C before C++

While trying to answer a friend’s question who just messaged me on facebook today about this very matter, i wanted to see if anyone has any idea i missed on this matter, visiting this thread on stack overflow i found the classic debate, here is my take on that classic debate that i stood by for many years (and I’m usually not a stubborn person)

So here is the state of affairs.

1- Camp 1: learn C first, it will help you when you learn C++ and you will be a better C++ programmer

2- Camp 2: You carry too many methods that are bad practices in C++

Well, here is the thing, the course of action i recommend is the following, I also explain exactly why so that if it does not apply to you, you can infer your own judgment

The way I think of it is in terms of how much time learning will take and what you end up with

Even though C is certainly not a prerequisite to C++, and with practice, Someone who started with C++ can be as efficient a C++ programmer as one who started with C, the truth of the matter is that C is ALMOST a subset of C++, there are few minor differences that make some C code not valid for a C++ compiler, but they can be summed up in a page or so.

So let’s get started composing the logic on whether you should learn C before C++ or not.

Objective 1: C will never be of any use to me, i have an assignment in C++ and that is all i care about, getting that assignment over and done with, in this case i recommend starting with C++.
Objective 2: I want to learn C++ so that i can make software.

Assuming you have objective #2

So, C is a small language, learning it from a good book can be around a 230 page read (I recommend Kernighan- Ritchie. The C programming language), once you finish with C, you can train on the basic concepts that you will need plenty in C++, the building blocks inside objects/classes of C++ are technically written in C.

At this stage (stage 1 of 2) Once you know C, C is under your belt, this is a great language for embedded devices, for example a router has a few kilobytes left for you after linux is installed on it’s 4MB of memory, you can’t fit the C++ library in there, C is the tool you need here (with much smaller libraries), a C++ developer will not wrap his head easily around what subset of C++ he/she is allowed to use, but if you know C, you are already productive after the first 230 pages, you can start doing serious things at this stage.

Then, the upgrade to C++, from a time perspective is a simple one, one thing to take care about is to always remember that you need to focus on Object oriented, when i made the switch to C++ many years ago, i paid plenty of attention to the concept of OO, and in no time, i found myself using it professionally when writing in C++, and not using it at all when writing in C, so the case of sloppy programming in C++ for those coming from C is not a big deal, nor has to apply to you, with very little effort you can get over your C habits, you just need to stay aware that you want to use OO.

From my deep understanding of both languages, 90% of what you learn in C is also part of what you will have to learn in C++, so you will not be wasting any time, reading a C++ book when you come from C is much much faster, so my recommendation is that you learn C first. this route will give you the most bang for your time.

I even recommend living in C for a year or so before you make that magical jump to C++. most of Linux’s important software packages are for example written in C not C++, so having good command of C first can be very beneficial.

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