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How to Learn Programming in C for Newbies

Paul Larkin - December 29, 2020

When you begin to learn to program as a code newbie , the profusion of language names can be intimidating and confusing. You’ll have to weather a blizzard of language names, including Python, C++, and JavaScript, and you’ll have to decide where to start. Many people choose to begin their programming studies with C, an established and widely used coding language. Beginning with C can have some disadvantages, though. C is an older language and can be a bit opaque to beginners, for one thing. You get lots of benefits from learning to program in C, however, as many other languages use C as a foundation. So, all that remains is to figure out how to learn programming in C. Simple, right?

This guide will get you learning C in no time. We look at C and the best learning methods for beginners, and we go over the best sites and online tools to help you get started. We’ll walk you through the C programming process, and we’ll finish up by helping you write your first program in C. With as much use as C gets in the business world, you’ll be glad you took the time to get this building block of modern computing under your belt. Before you know it, you’ll be adding to your C skills and will be on your way to career success!

Find the Compiler for Your Needs

To get started with C, you’ll want to find yourself a nice compiler you can take home and introduce to your family. Compilers are fundamental to programming; you input your code into a compiler and it converts that coding language into machine-level instructions that can then be read by the targeted device. You’ll need to pick out a compiler designed for your specific language.

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There are lots of good compilers available like Ideone’s top-notch offering . Online compilers are excellent tools for beginners or for when you’re in a rush, but they have more limited capabilities than locally installed compilers. PC users can download and install a compiler such as Code::Blocks, Mac OS X users can download compilers like Xcode , and Linux aficionados can get GNU GCC or a similar compiler.

You’re sure to find the right compiler for the job.

“Hello, World!”

Now that you’ve installed your compiler, it’s time to write a simple program. We’ll go with one of the oldies but goodies and have you create a text message. While the program is a basic one, the concepts behind it are sound and will carry over into any future coding you take on. While writing this program, you’ll also start to get a feel for C’s syntax and structure. Let’s get ready to do some serious coding!

Because C has a small footprint, it requires you to assign libraries to perform actions. In this case, you’ll start your program with stdio.h , which defines the printf function. You’ll then start code execution with the command main() . All code within curly braces ( {} ) becomes the main body. So, here’s the program:

#include <stdio.h>
int main()
  printf("Hello, World!\n");
  return 0;

It might not seem like much, but you’ve just written your first C code. You’re on your way!

[Image of a person looking at code on a computer screen.]
Ride em, code cowboy!

And that’s the deal, folks. The thought of programming in C might make you turn pale and cold, but once you get started, you’ll pick it up like riding a bike. C is a fantastic jumping-off point for any prospective coder, and our guide will help you get started. Learning C can only make you a better employee and a more attractive job prospect, so let us get you learning and growing!

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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Paul Larkin

About the author: Paul Larkin has years of experience in the tech industry and writes about cybersecurity and future of work.

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