Library and IDE in C Language

Library and IDE in C Programming Language

In this article, I am going to give a brief introduction to Library and IDE in C Programming Language. Please read our previous article discussing the History of the C Programming Language. Before going to write the first program, we need to understand two things. They are as follows.

  1. Library of C Language
  2. IDE (Integrated Development Environment)

After understanding the above two things, we can start the first application development.

What is the C Library, and What it Contains?

To understand it, we can say that to write a program, variables, constants, and methods are very important. Methods are also called functions. So many predefined constants and functions are already available that we can use directly in our program? Here, in C Language, a library is a collection of header files where each header file contains some predefined constants and methods or functions.

The C Standard Library provides built-in functions that are part of the ANSI C standard. It offers functions and constants for I/O operations, string handling, mathematical computations, memory allocation, and other utility functions.

What is a header file, and why did they divide the C library into header files?

Consider in our computer why we are dividing the hard disk into many drives and why we are creating different folders in each drive. Why not place the complete information in a single place or drive?

We are creating many folders for easy access that we can understand. Folder creation means the related information we place into a particular folder. So, whenever a requirement comes, we can only access that particular folder. That is an easy-access policy.

In the same way, in a library, so many predefined things are available, and so many predefined functions and constants are available in the C language. All these are divided into related groups called header files in C Language.

Examples of C header files:

Some of the header files available in C Language are as follows:

  1. Stdio.h: standard input/output header file contains some standard functions. We can use the predefined printf() function to print a message on the console. No need to write the code once again. The printf function is already ready. I want to print a message on the output screen from my program. So, directly, we can use the printf function. If you want to read something from the end-user for scanning purposes, the scanf() function they have given.
  2. Conio.h:  Console input/output header file. This contains console-related functions. For example, if you want to clear the console, clearing the console means clearing the output window; clrscr() predefined function is available. If you want to read a character from the console, then have provided getch() predefined function.
  3. String.h: This header file contains methods to manipulate the string. For example, if you want to find the length of a string, you can use the predefined strlen() function, and if you want to reverse the character of a string, then you can use the strren() function.
  4. Graphics.h: C language allows writing graphical programming also. Some 2D games we can develop using c programming also. For example, if you want to set the color, you can use setcolor() function and if you want to set the background color, then you can use setbkcolor predefined functions. There are so many functions available in the Graphics header file.
  5. Math.h: This header file provides functions and variables to perform math operations. For example, if you want to generate a random number, you can use the predefined rand() function, and if you want to calculate the power of a number, then you can use pow() function.
  6. Dos.h: This header file contains functions that you can use to access operating system information. Dos stands for disk operating system. Operating system-related information: if you want to access from your c program, then you can go for dos.h header file. For example, to get the date, you can use the getdate function; to get the time, you can use the gettime predefined function.

Library and IDE in C Programming Language

So, a header file is a collection of related predefined functions, and a c library is a collection of predefined header files.

What is a Library in C Language?

A library in C is a collection of pre-compiled code, usually functions and constants, that can be reused in programs. Libraries provide commonly used functionalities, saving programmers from writing code for these from scratch. Libraries in C contain functions and macros that are used for performing various tasks, like mathematical calculations, I/O operations, handling strings, and more.

Types of Libraries in C Language:
  • Standard Libraries: These are part of the C standard (like the Standard C Library) and provide basic functions for tasks like I/O operations, string handling, mathematical computations, and memory management. Examples include stdio.h, stdlib.h, math.h, etc.
  • Third-Party Libraries: These are developed by external parties and offer extended functionalities, such as graphics rendering, networking, or complex math operations. Examples include the GTK (for GUI applications), OpenSSL (for secure communication), and more.

Libraries are included in C programs using the #include directive. Once included, the functions and constants defined in the library can be used in the program.

IDE (Integrated Development Environment)

IDE stands for Integrated Development Environment. Generally, if you want to execute any program, one environment setup is required. For example, here I am taking a class which is nothing but one program. To execute this program, one environment setup is required. So, many things are required to execute this program. For example, whiteboard, Marker, one room, etc. In the same way, if you want to execute any program, for example, C, C++, or Java programs, one environment set is also required.

In general, the C and C++ Programs execute in the original environment of operating systems like Windows, Mac, or Linux. Every operating system has its own environment to execute the program. Whenever we click on a program, it executes in the background with the operating system’s help. To run that application, the operating system will set one environment, and only we can execute the program from that environment.

But if you want to execute the C or C++ programs from the original environment, it is a very complex thing. So, as a basic programmer or learner, it is impossible to work with the operating system environments. So, that is why they introduced the IDE (Integrated Development Environment) concept.

What is an IDE?

An Integrated Development Environment (IDE) is a software application that provides comprehensive facilities to computer programmers for software development. An IDE typically includes a code editor, a compiler or interpreter, and a debugger, all integrated into a single interface.

Popular IDEs for C Programming:
  • Eclipse with CDT (C/C++ Development Tooling): A popular open-source IDE that supports C/C++ and other languages.
  • Code::Blocks: An open-source, cross-platform IDE specifically designed for C and C++.
  • Visual Studio: Provided by Microsoft, it’s a powerful IDE supporting C, C++, and many other languages. The Community version is free for individual developers, open-source projects, and academic research.
  • Dev-C++: A free, lightweight, and easy-to-use IDE specifically for C and C++.
  • CLion: Developed by JetBrains, CLion is a cross-platform IDE for C and C++, focusing on modern C++ standards and practices.
Features of IDEs:
  • Syntax Highlighting and Code Completion: For easier reading and writing of code.
  • Debugging Tools: To help identify and fix errors in the code.
  • Build Automation and Compiler Integration: To compile and run the code within the IDE environment.
  • Version Control Integration: For managing changes and collaboration in software development projects.
Benefits of Using an IDE:
  • Efficiency: Streamlines the coding process with various tools and features.
  • Error Detection: Helps in quickly finding and resolving errors.
  • Project Management: Simplifies managing large codebases and complex projects.

Libraries in C provide pre-written code to extend the functionality of programs, while IDEs offer an integrated environment to write, compile, debug, and manage C projects efficiently. The combination of libraries and an efficient IDE greatly enhances the productivity and efficiency of a C programmer, streamlining the process of writing, testing, and debugging code.

In the next article, I will discuss the Structure of a C Program. Here, in this article, I try to explain Library and IDE in C Programming Language, and I hope you enjoy this Library and IDE in C Programming Language article.

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