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C Best Practices, Guidelines, and Resources for Your Tech Career

Daisy Waithereo Wambua - October 01, 2022

The tech industry is getting more competitive, as increasingly more people are learning how to code. If you want to be a web or app developer, you should learn C best practices to improve your chances of employment and increase your salary potential.

To ensure you are on top of your game, we compiled a list of C best practices, guidelines, and resources for your tech career. Focusing on adopting these practices will help you avoid common challenges like creating an error during code generation or writing inflexible code.

What Is C?

C is a system programming language often used for low-level programming. C is popular among developers due to its low-level memory access and simplicity. It’s reliable for control and noted for its efficiency. Its simple syntax is the inspiration behind JavaScript, C++, C#, Java, and PHP. For that reason, C is considered the mother language.

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Learning C is not challenging, even for beginners, since it’s a relatively basic coding language. Its simplicity is rooted in its structured approach and the fact that it is machine-specific. This means the programming language can run on any machine with only a few structural changes.

C is used to build low-level applications but supports high-level programming languages and systems applications. With dynamic memory management, speed, and multiple inbuilt libraries, C remains one of the top programming languages.

5 Concepts You Need to Understand for C Best Practices

It’s important to get familiar with certain concepts before you learn C best practices. To build a solid foundation in programming, start with the concepts below so you’ll be ready to master C.

  1. Syntax error. This is an error made by a developer when they’re coding. Syntax errors occur when a line of code is misspelled or punctuated incorrectly. There are different ways that a syntax error during code generation can occur. For example, a developer might forget to add a semicolon, return statement, quotes or variables. These seemingly minor errors can significantly impact your code.
  2. Function. A function refers to a group of statements that issue a task to be performed. Each program on C features one function, primary () . Each function tells the computer which tasks to complete. The function illustrates to the compiler the name and parameters.
  3. Compiler. A compiler is also referred to as an interpreter. It’s mainly used to translate a high-level programming language into a readable machine language. Developers write code in programming languages such as C,  C++, Java, and Python, but the computer code needs to be written in 1s and 0s. Since the source code cannot be interpreted by the computers, it must be converted into machine language. Therefore, a developer will run the code through a language processor.
  4. High-Level Programming. A high-level programming language like C allows developers to build a program for a specific computer. The language is considered high-level programming because it is more easily read by humans than machines. Types of programming languages that are incapable of this are called assembly languages.
  5. API. An API, or Application Programming Interface, is a set of rules and protocols used to build software applications. Through them, communication is achievable between applications and services or other programs. Top companies like Facebook and Twitter rely on APIs to make it easier for users to log in.

5 Common Challenges That C Guidelines Can Address

C is a common programming language among both expert and beginner developers for several reasons. Below are some common web development challenges that C guidelines can address.


C is known for its use in low-level programming but the language can run through different compilers to make it a top assembly language. Its efficiency becomes obvious when you’re writing code that is meant to improve runtime performance. Its versatile nature means it can be used across different libraries, such as OpenCV, SQlite, and GTK+.

Poor Extensibility

The C programming language features multiple built-in functions, which makes it easier for developers to use it to add new capabilities to already written code. Some functions are already present within a compiler, which means developers do not need to declare them first. This allows you to maximize functions already existing in the various C libraries.

Poor Website or App Quality

C forms the basis of multiple programming languages, so it is easy to use if you want to update an app or website. You will find some of its common aspects in Objective-C and Java libraries, or you can rely on preprocessors to generate code from files.

Difficult to Modify

Since C is an open-source language, developers can easily make changes to existing code without any obstructions. This means programmers can create a library to address a particular problem with a program. If you use C for programming, you will have plenty of room for optimization.

Top 10 C Best Practices and Guidelines

A woman sits at a desk and types code into software on her desktop computer
Programming using C is not as challenging as you might expect. C is an easy language to write and read procedural programming language.

Coding in C is common among expert developers, so if you’re new to programming, you should start by learning C best practices and guidelines. Below is a list of best practices that will help you improve your skills when coding in C.

Write Portable Code

It’s very important in programming to write code that is portable. If you do this, the developer will only have to change the header and the compiler flash in the source code before running it on a different machine.

It is important to write portable code first before trying to optimize it. And it’s worth remembering that some aspects of the code simply won’t be portable. It’s also important to organize your source code into machine-dependent code and machine-independent code.

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Organize Operators Properly

Operators and operands should not be separated in your code. If you’re finding an expression difficult to read, you should write it in separate lines. Make the split near the end of the lowest precedence operator. If you are using different operators, you should use parentheses.

However, do not use too many parentheses because it will decrease the readability of your code. The comma operator is essential in providing initialization and operations.

Keep Statements Simple

It’s important to write only one statement per line. If you are using a null body while using ‘for’ or ‘while’ you must include a comment. The comment should indicate that it’s not a missing code.

When writing compound statements, enclose them in braces. You can format your braces in different ways, but it’s important to use only one format consistently throughout one code syntax.

Check for Leakages

You should also safeguard your code. C features several libraries, so you should check if the library you’re using has any leakages by testing your program. This will help you detect leaks promptly.

Avoid Using Global Variables

Global variables affect how the function of your code works. Variables are hidden arguments to functions that are affiliated with them. These mutable global variables shouldn’t be used, so make sure the functions you’re using are independent of the arguments set.

In the event that you’re using a variable constantly, you can substitute it with a functions argument or member of an argument.

Avoid Unified Headers

Unified headers prevent the developer from providing modules differentiated by their roles and abstraction.

Use Logical Variable Names

There are basic identifiers used by developers to implement common functions in C. The most common identifier is “i,” which is used to loop in C.

Include Comments

Using comments while coding in C will help you better understand the code when reviewing it. This is common when writing complex lines of code as you can rely on the comments to remember the intended function.

Maintain Strong Readability with Escape Sequences

Using escape sequences in your code will help improve its readability. Proper indentation is necessary for programming. Escape sequences are essential for displaying output.

Use Functions

You should consider using functions in your code to increase readability. Functions can significantly reduce the need for redundant lines of code. If you use them, you won’t need to write all of your lines of code inside the main function.

How to Learn C Best Practices

There are many platforms that can help you learn C best practices. With traditional in-class education reduced during pandemic times, students are often taking advantage of alternatives. The most common options are online classes, vocational training, trade schools, books, and tech bootcamps.

Can a Bootcamp Help You Learn C Best Practices?

Yes, a bootcamp can help you learn C best practices. The best C coding bootcamps employ tech experts as instructors, so you’ll be able to learn directly from professionals who have real-world experience using C. In addition, you will also benefit from mentorship and career coaching sessions.

Most coding bootcamps feature project-based curriculums. This means that you will actively participate in building applications using C and other common programming languages.

To ensure bootcamp students learn up-to-date skills, bootcamps revise their curricula often. They continuously research C programming best practices to include in their curriculum. This helps students keep up-to-date on new, trending practices that will allow them to write code suitable for a career in programming.

Best Courses and Training Programs to Learn C Best Practices

Provider Course Price
eDX Using Linux Tools and Libraries Free
Udemy Practical C Programming Practices $84.99
Pluralsight The C Programming Language in Action $29 per month,
$299 annually
Coursera Introductory C Programming Specialization Free
LinkedIn Learning C Code Challenges $28.16

Should You Learn C Best Practices?

Yes, you should learn C best practices if you’re interested in programming. If you want to have an added advantage over other candidates in your job search, you could even take a more in-depth C course. Employers always go for developers who have varied knowledge in coding, so it’s a good idea to add C best practices to your list.

C Best Practices and Guidelines FAQ

Are there any C bad practices?

Yes, there are C bad practices that developers should avoid while building an app. Failing to write a unit test is a bad practice. Inconsistency in styling, avoiding source control, and failure to mobilize code are other C bad practices that you should avoid.

Aside from C bootcamps, where else can I learn C best practices?

Aside from C bootcamps, you can learn C best practices through coding books, online courses, vocational training, community colleges, or four-year higher education campuses. However you prefer to learn, there will be a C program available in that mode.

Some developers even seek apprenticeship programs, which are excellent for developing hands-on experience in using C. If you’re learning through self-teaching, completing C projects will help you build a portfolio and hone your skills.

Why are C coding rules so important?

C coding rules are important because they standardize the quality of code used by developers. By adhering to these rules and guidelines, developers can write code suitable for understanding by any other developer. The rules also ensure that the apps they build are secure.

Is coding using C in demand?

Yes, coding using C is in demand. Although there are multiple programming languages, C is still widely used. Its versatility for building operating systems and network drivers adds to its popularity. It is a base programming language that will help you get your coding career started.

About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.

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Daisy Waithereo Wambua

About the author: Daisy, a certified Career Coach by the International Association of Professions Career College, is a seasoned writer with a decade of experience in writing, proofreading, and editing. She has spoken at Maseno University to help young women explore new careers and learn more about technology. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Communications and Public Relations, a Certificate in Web Development, and a Master's Degree in International Studies.

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