Zig is an up–and–coming oriented language that is believed to replace C. No programming languages are indeed considered full-fledged. Thus, there is always a scope for improvement. Thus, Zig is also a result of curiosity and ambition to attain perfection when it comes to programming languages.
What Is Meet Zig?
Zig is an active project that was started by Andrew Kelley in 2015 and is seen to create mass impact. Both Zig and C are go-to portable and low–level languages when compared to other languages. Meet Zig is a programming language that is also considered a “close to the metal” language. It is a “low-level systems”, and “general purpose programming language” that is considered a right fit for systems programming. Moreover, it is also well-suited for targeting Web Assembly, writing games, embedded devices, and other projects that are normally handled by high-level languages.
What Can Be Expected From Meet Zig ?
Though most of the Zig capabilities are similar to existing low-level languages yet it aims to improve these capabilities in several ways. Therefore, let’s have a look at some of the primary characteristics of Meet Zig.
Design Standards Of Meet Zig
As a “close to the metal” language, Zig allows developers to work directly with the memory of the system and write code that can be maximally optimized as per the project. Its direct memory allocation feature is in common to C family, Rust, and other low-level systems programming language. Undoubtedly, it is a simpler systems-oriented language and makes it easier to write and correct code. As a result, it enhances the developer's experience by reducing the complexities associated with writing in C- like software.
Facilitates Interoperability With C/C++
Zig provides a high degree of interoperability with popular programming languages and C++. Besides compiling with C and C++, it ships with "libc" libraries for several platforms and builds links without linking them to external libc libraries. It not just attempts to supersede C with its syntax but also absorbs C into itself to the possible extent. Moreover, it also supports cross-compilation and trivially interoperates with C. Zig also has a "struct" for object–like semantics instead of classes and objects. Furthermore, it supports generics like C++ or Java while C has "anytype" keywords to facilitate generic parameters.
Zig Handling System Memory
The distinct feature of Zig is that it does not require developers to deal with memory allocation directly. As a result, it does not have any malloc keyword as that of C/C++ instead it is handled explicitly in the standard library with access to the heap. Making the memory access is the obvious characteristic of Zig and helps to avoid hidden allocations as these hidden allocations are considered a boon to real-time and resource-limited environments. It also allows client codes to specify the nature of the allocator its passes to API. Thus, the library code becomes more reusable and obvious. Moreover, an application can determine when what library is it using to access memory. Furthermore, its safety features also help to avoid buffer overflows and ship with a debug allocator which focuses on detecting memory leaks.
Facilitates Conditional Compilation
Zig uses conditional compilation and eliminates the need for a pre-processor which is crucial for C. As a result, it does not contain any macros like C/C++, instead, Zig’s compiler determines what can be evaluated at the time of compilation. Moreover, it makes compile-time computing a central feature and allows developers to write generic code for meta programming without seeking any explicit support. Its “comp time” keyword allows the execution of code at the compile time.
Error Handling In Zig
The unique error-handling system of Zig does not use “throw” to raise exceptions as a part of avoiding hidden control flow design. Its” throw” function branch execution in ways that are hard to follow. The Zig code can use error objects to respond to the code or can use “try” keywords for passing up the error and the error union has the syntax too.
Testing In Zig
Zig has a “build tool” that works in a cross-platform manner. As a result, it replaces the tools like “make” and “cmake”. Moreover, the packaging manner and testing support are built directly into the runner and language. Guess what, Zig was originally built on the top of the LLVM toolset and was later moved to make LLVM an optional component. Thus, it helps to make Zig language more amenable and portable.
Is Meet Zig A Replacement To C?
Zig also holds direct memory allocation characteristics like the C family, Rust, and other low-level systems. As a result, Zig provides developers an opportunity to work directly with the system memory. Moreover, writing code that can be maximally optimized also become convenient with Zig. Furthermore, it is also shipped with a build system and package manager that proves useful even for traditional C/C++ projects. Thus, it is considered a replacement for scons, ninjas, cmake, autotools, etc. Moreover, Zig is easier to understand than C.
Today most of the programming infrastructure indeed relies on C in different ways. As a result, this dependency would have a ripple effect of evolving into a language. If the Zig is brought to use it may be seen as a replacement for C and could have significant systematic benefits too.
Zig is not yet in the 1.0 release but has an active Discord community and GitHub ecosystem. Reportedly, Zig is expected to take its time for the 1.0 release and this launch may happen in 2025 or later. The Zig’s potential, activity, uptake by the developer community, and goals make Meet Zig an interesting project to watch for.