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Table of contents
1.
Introduction
2.
Carbon Programming Language
3.
Need for Carbon Programming Language
4.
Carbon vs C++
5.
Features of Carbon programming Language
6.
Language Goals
7.
Language Basics
7.1.
Hello Ninja Code
7.1.1.
Output 
7.2.
Explanation
8.
Primitive Data Types
9.
Functions and Return Types
9.1.
Implementation in Carbon
9.1.1.
Output
10.
Conditional Statements
10.1.
Implementation in Carbon
10.1.1.
Output
11.
Match
11.1.
Implementation in Carbon
11.1.1.
Output
12.
For Loop
12.1.
Implementation in Carbon
12.1.1.
Output
13.
While Loop
13.1.
Implementation in Carbon
13.1.1.
Output
14.
Generics
15.
Frequently Asked Questions
15.1.
Who made the Carbon programming language?
15.2.
What is Carbon?
15.3.
What is the status of the Carbon programming language?
15.4.
What extent of C++ interoperability can be expected from Carbon?
15.5.
Carbon employs which compiler infrastructure?
16.
Conclusion
Last Updated: Mar 27, 2024
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Introduction To Carbon Language

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Ashwin Goyal
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Introduction

Hey Ninja! Are you looking for a new programming language to learn? Why don’t you check out this new programming language introduced by Google recently? We’re talking about the Carbon programming language. Developers from many organizations believe it is time for a successor to C++. Hence, the Carbon language was created as its successor.

Introduction to carbon language

In this article, we will cover the Introduction to Carbon language details.  We’ll discuss how it started, its features, basic implementations, and much more. Follow along to find out.

Let’s get started with an introduction to Carbon language.

Carbon Programming Language

carbon logo

Carbon, or Carbon-lang, was introduced as an open-source, experimental heir to C++C++ is the most popular programming language among developers, even though there are many others. It is used by more than 4.4 million developers all over the world. To resolve some of the flaws of C++, Carbon was launched in July 2022 as its successor. Carbon was launched by Google engineer Chandler Carruth on July 19, 2022, at the CPP North C++ conference in Toronto. Google initiated this project. It is currently accepting contributions by developers on GitHub. You must wonder why Google introduced a new language instead of improving C++.

The reason is that making changes to C++ is quite hard, even for a big firm like Google. This is due to the focus on backward compatibility, the tight governance behind the language, and a long approval process that might take years. 

Now let us see the reason for Carbon’s creation.

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Need for Carbon Programming Language

C++ is undoubtedly a dominant language in building software in which performance is an important aspect. However, it struggles to meet and improve the needs of the developers. It is tough to improve C++ incrementally. The best way to solve these problems is to start with firm language foundations like a modern generics system, modular code organization, and easy syntax.

Existing modern languages like kotlin, go, swift, and rust, are good options for developers, but these languages' designs provide enormous challenges to adoption and migration from C++.

Carbon is mainly a successor language approach rather than an evolution of C++. It is centered on C++ interoperability. It allows broad adoption and migration for current C++ developers and codebases.

Many languages, including Kotlin and Typescript, have used a similar approach.

example of other languages that used similar approaches to carbon

Till now, we've known that Carbon is a potential successor to C++, but why would someone learn Carbon if they already know how to work with C++? Let’s look at a comparison between C++ and Carbon to find out.

Carbon vs C++

C++ has been around for years. It is trusted by millions of developers worldwide, but there are some areas where C++ falls short that Carbon intends to address. Carbon and C++ share some similarities; both are object-oriented and statically typed languages. However, there are several differences between them. The significant differences between the Carbon language and C++ are listed below:

  • Carbon is easier to learn than C++, one of the most challenging programming languages.
     
  • The Carbon language is more expressive than C++. By "expressive," we mean that it is simple to write code understandable by both the compiler and a human reader.
     
  • Carbon aims to fix memory safety, a significant problem in C++.
     
  • Carbon has a modern generics system which is not present in C++. However, opt-in templates are still supported for easy C++ interoperability.
carbon vs c++

Now, let us look at the features of this young programming language.

Features of Carbon programming Language

Some of the features of the Carbon language are as follows:

  • Like its predecessor (C++), Carbon is intended to provide performance advantages through a Low-level virtual machine ( LLVM ).
     
  • Carbon can invoke C++ language code and vice versa.
     
  • It supports the migration of code from C++ to Carbon.
     
  • Carbon allows developers to create fast and scalable builds.
     
  • The entire language is publicly accessible via GitHub, where anyone may contribute to the program focused on their aim and priorities.
     
  • Carbon language is easy to learn, Especially, If you have worked with C++ before, you will find learning Carbon very easy.
     
  • Some of Carbon's significant features are modern generics, C++ interoperability, and memory safety.
     

The Carbon language's features make it an appealing language to learn. Let us now look at the goals of the Carbon language.

Language Goals

The following are the goals of the Carbon language:

  • Carbon is being designed to support performance-critical software.
     
  • It will support the evolution of software and language.
     
  • The code written in Carbon will be easy to write, read, and understand.
     
  • It will support interoperability with C++.
     
  • It will facilitate an easier migration from C++.
     
  • Development using the Carbon language will be scalable and fast.
     
  • It is being developed to support modern OS platforms, environments, and hardware architectures.
     
  • Testing mechanisms and practical safety will also be supported by Carbon language.
     

Now let us cover some language basics in Carbon. If you are familiar with C/C++, you will also find the Carbon language’s syntax friendly.

Language Basics

The Carbon language is still experimental, as stated in its documentation. On the other hand, some of its design principles are less likely to change.

The extension for Carbon codes is ".Carbon."  Let’s start learning to code in it by looking at a basic “helloninja.carbon” code. 

Hello Ninja Code

// Basic helloninja.Carbon code

package Sample api;

fn Main() -> i32 {

    // Declaring and initializing a variable named “a.”
    var a: auto = "Hello Ninja!";
 
    // Printing the value of “a” on console
    Print(a);

    // Main function returns 0
    return 0;
}

Output 

output of hello ninja

Explanation

In the above-given example: 

  • The “package” keyword is used to declare packages. 
     
  • The “fn” keyword is used to declare functions.
     
  • fn Main() -> i32 {......}” is used to declare a function named main, whose return type is i32 (i.e. an integer).
     
  • The “var” keyword is used to declare a variable.
     
  • a” is the variable’s name, and “auto” is used for automatically identifying the variable's data type.
     
  • Constants can be declared by the use of the keyword “let”.
     
  • //” can are used for adding comments.
     

Through this code, we’ve got an overview of the syntax of the Carbon language. Let us discuss other basics, starting with the primitive data types.

Primitive Data Types

Carbon has the following primitive data types:

  • Boolean: True and False are booleans in the Carbon language.
     
  • Integers: We can use signed integers (i8, i16, i32, i64, i128, or i256) as well as unsigned integers (u8, u16, u32, u64, u128, and u256) in Carbon.
     
  • Float: Floating point values can be used by f16, f32, f64, and f128.
     
  • String: String literals can be written using double quotation marks ("") for single-line literals and three quotation marks (""") for multi-line literals.
     

Let us move further to see functions and return types in Carbon.

Functions and Return Types

The syntax of Carbon functions is:

fn FunctionName(var param: type, ...) -> return type { ... }


We can omit the return type if the return type of our function is empty or void.

Let us see an example of a function, “printnumber”, which accepts an integer as an argument and prints it on the console. 

Implementation in Carbon

// Example of function in Carbon language
package Sample api;

// Function whose return type is void
fn Printnumber(var num: i32) {
    Print("The number is: {0} ", num);
}

// Main function whose return type is an integer
fn Main() -> i32 {
 
    // Function call
    Printnumber(0);
    return 0;
}

Output

output of function in carbon

Now, let us learn about conditional statements in the Carbon language.

Conditional Statements

Like C/C++, we can provide conditional execution to our program using if and else. Blocks of statements are performed conditionally by incorporating a simple control flow. Otherwise, blocks of statements are performed one after the other. 

Let us consider an example to understand it.

Implementation in Carbon

// Example program to find if a number is odd or even
package Sample api;

fn Main() -> i32 {
  var num: i32 = 56;

  // If the condition is satisfied
  if(num%2==0){
    Print("number is even");
  }

  // If the condition is not satisfied
  else{
      Print("number is odd");
  }
  return 0;
}

Output

output for conditional statements in carbon

Match

The match is quite similar to switch cases in C/C++. It is used to check the value of an expression against various cases. 

See the example that follows to understand it better.

Implementation in Carbon


// Example program to understand match
package Sample api;

fn Main() -> i32 {
  var a: i32 = 2;

  // Match will check the value of “a” against the following cases
  match (a) {
      case (0) => {
      Print( "a is 0");
    }
    case (1) => {
      Print( "a is 1");
    }
    case (2) => {
      Print( "a is 2");
    }
    default => {
      Print( "a is a number other than 0, 1 and 2");
    }
  }
  return 0;
}

Output

output for match in carbon

For Loop

Loops are used to execute a repeated series of statements. The “For” loop is used in Carbon for iterating within a given range.

To understand how to use for loop, look at the following example.

Implementation in Carbon

// Example program to understand for loop
package Sample api;

fn Main() -> i32 {

  var fruits: [String;3] = ("Apple", "Mango", "Banana");
  var i: i32 = 0;

  // Using for loop to print each value of the given range
  for (i: String in fruits) {
    Print(i);
  }
  return 0;
}

Output

output of for loop in carbon

While Loop

The while loop in the Carbon language is used to iterate while the given condition is true.

Let us look at the following example to understand it:

Implementation in Carbon

// Example program to understand while loop
package Sample api;

fn Main() -> i32 {
    var a: i32 = 0;

    // Loop continues while the condition is true
    while (a <= 3) {
        Print("condition is true, a is {0}", a);
        a = a + 1;
    }

    // Print statement is executed when the condition becomes false
    Print("condition is false, a > 3");
    return 0;
}

Output

output of while loop in carbon

Generics

Generics, like other languages, "enable Carbon constructs like functions and classes to be constructed with compile-time parameters."

“T” is used to define generics. They can be of any data type.

We have learned a lot about the introduction to Carbon programming language in detail. Let us now look at some frequently asked questions about the Carbon language.

Check this out:  R Programming language

Frequently Asked Questions

Who made the Carbon programming language?

Carbon was initially announced by Google developer “Chandler Carruth” in July 2022 at the CppNorth conference in Toronto.

What is Carbon?

Carbon is an experimental heir to C++. Given the difficulty of improving C++, this is an attempt to explore a possible future for the language. 

What is the status of the Carbon programming language?

Carbon is a free and open-source language. It is still in the experimental stage. It is currently accepting contributions from developers on GitHub.

What extent of C++ interoperability can be expected from Carbon?

Carbon is intended to be compatible with C++ programs and to facilitate migration. The Carbon toolchain will be able to compile C++ code. It is anticipated that the majority of the code will interoperate quite well.

Carbon employs which compiler infrastructure?

Carbon is built with LLVM. It will include Clang dependencies to enable interoperability with other languages.

Conclusion

This article covered an introduction to Carbon language. In this article, we have discussed a potential successor to C++, i.e., the Carbon language. We have learned about its features, goals, and basic implementation.

We hope this article helps you on your journey. You can try solving some Carbon problems, such as finding Fibonacci numbers in Carbon or determining whether a number is Armstrong in Carbon. You can refer to these articles related to Carbon by Coding Ninjas.

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Happy coding, Ninja!

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