What Every Developer Should Know About the Upcoming C23 Standard?

As someone who has been coding in C for over a decade, I’m eagerly anticipating the upcoming C23 standards release. While C may not get as much hype as trendier languages, it remains one of the most widely used languages today. The upcoming C23 update promises to keep C competitive and relevant into the future.

In this article, I’ll walk through what I consider the key features, changes and improvements that C developers should understand about C23 based on the latest drafts. I’ll also share my thoughts on what C23 means for the future of the language.

C23 Will Finally Introduce Proper Modules to C

As a long-time C coder, I’m most excited that C23 will finally add native support for modules. Modules allow code to be organized into self-contained, reusable units instead of just having one monolithic translation unit.

Modules are something I’ve envied from more modern languages. Having clear interfaces and explicit exports helps manage dependencies and complexity in large codebases. Modules will be a huge boon for improving encapsulation in C.

Contract Programming Brings New Safety Checks

Another great addition in C23 is contract programming. This allows functions to specify preconditions and postconditions as a form of lightweight formal verification.

Preconditions let you define valid assumptions at the start of a function. Postconditions then validate the outcome after execution. I appreciate how this makes requirements more explicit. Static checking of contracts will surface bugs and logic errors earlier.

Overall, contract programming really complements C’s focus on writing safety-critical system software. I expect to see contracts used extensively in embedded applications.

An Upgraded Standard Library Is Welcomed

While C has a relatively small standard library compared to languages like C++, the updates planned for C23 are very welcome.

Additions like std::string for native string handling finally give us built-in dynamic arrays. And having native vectors makes C feel much more modern.

The expanded standard library in C23 further closes the gap with C++ while staying true to C’s ethos. This increased functionality while retaining simplicity is great to see.

C23 3d image

C23 Shows C is Still Evolving and Relevant

With Java, C#, Python and JavaScript dominating so much conversation, it’s easy to overlook stalwarts like C. But the upcoming C23 release shows that C is still evolving to meet modern programming needs.

Features like modules, contract programming, and library upgrades bring C up to speed with expectations from software engineers today. C23 proves that C’s areas of strength like systems programming aren’t standing still.

My hope is that C23 helps attract new energies to the language, while retaining the spirit that has made C so foundational. C still forms the backbone of major operating systems, after all!

C23 won’t radically change C overnight. But the standards update keeps C relevant while capitalizing on its legacy strengths. As a long-time C developer, that’s exciting to see.

I’m eager to start working with modules, contracts and the other improvements shipping in C23. While the language may not seem trendy on the surface, I’m certain C still has an indispensable role in programming for decades more.

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