When comparing Scheme vs C#, the Slant community recommends Scheme for most people. In the question“What is the best programming language to learn first?” Scheme is ranked 4th while C# is ranked 14th. The most important reason people chose Scheme is:
Scheme syntax is extremely regular and easy to pick up. A *formal* specification of the syntax fits onto just a few pages; it can be introduced informally in a paragraph or two. Students are not distracted by remembering how to write if statements or loops or even operator precedence because every syntactic follows the same pattern. Ultimately, everything looks something like this: (func a b c) This includes not only user-defined functions but even control flow: (if cond then-clause else-clause) or even primitive operations like `define` and `set`: (define foo 10) (set! foo 11) This means that nothing really has special syntactic treatment in the language. There are essentially no weird edge-cases to memorize, and different concepts are given a more equal weight in the language. (Unlike Algol-like languages which tend to given undue weight to loops and assignment statements, for example.)
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Pro Simple syntax
Scheme syntax is extremely regular and easy to pick up. A formal specification of the syntax fits onto just a few pages; it can be introduced informally in a paragraph or two. Students are not distracted by remembering how to write if statements or loops or even operator precedence because every syntactic follows the same pattern.
Ultimately, everything looks something like this:
(func a b c)
This includes not only user-defined functions but even control flow:
(if cond then-clause else-clause)
or even primitive operations like
(define foo 10) (set! foo 11)
This means that nothing really has special syntactic treatment in the language. There are essentially no weird edge-cases to memorize, and different concepts are given a more equal weight in the language. (Unlike Algol-like languages which tend to given undue weight to loops and assignment statements, for example.)
Pro No Magic - it's clear how everything works
Scheme has far less built into the language itself, helping students see that things like OOP are not magical: they are just patterns for organizing code. Everything in Scheme is built up from a very small set of primitives which compose in a natural and intuitive fashion.
Having a language that does not accord many things special status helps keep students open minded. This will help students later go between different languages and paradigms from procedural to object-oriented to functional.
Pro Great at teaching fundamental programming ideas
Scheme teaches the important, fundamental ideas immediately without the distraction of unnecessary syntax or language features.
Pro Great, well known textbooks
There is a set of very strong textbooks introducing CS and programming using Scheme. These books are available for free online.
The most famous example--and one of the most famous CS books full stop--is Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs usually known as SICP. This book introduces fundamental ideas in computer science and covers an incredible amount of material quickly and clearly without requiring any prior knowledge.
However, some people find SICP a bit challenging as a first text. Happily, there are other more introductory texts as well. Simply Scheme is a book designed to be read before SICP, easing beginners into the language as well as CS and programming in general. How to Design Programs is another text used in introductory college courses.
Pro Robust metaprogramming
The quotation functionality of Lisp allow for extremely powerful, yet syntactically straightforward metaprogramming via macros. This is more powerful than the C preprocessor while being less involved than something like Template Haskell or F# quotations.
Using macros to properly decompose a problem domain teaches new developers good habits, improving composibility and reliability when tackling large programs. Scheme metaprogramming also serves as a gentle introduction to domain specific languages.
Unlike most languages, Scheme actually accords both functional programming and imperative programming roughly equal status. Many other languages like Python and Java are staunchly imperative while SML and Haskell are primarily functional; Scheme is a nice middle ground.
Additionally, since Scheme syntax is extremely flexible, it can easily be re-purposed for teaching non-deterministic and logic programming. There is no need to learn a new language like Prolog when the same ideas can easily be expressed with Scheme syntax.
This gives students a good perspective on different ways to think about and organize programs, which makes it much easier to move forward to other languages and technologies.
Pro .NET is a great toolbox
C# runs on top of the .NET framework, which provides many libraries containing classes used for common tasks such as connecting to the Internet, displaying a window or editing files. Unlike many other languages, you don't have to pick between a handful of libraries for every small task you want to do.
Pro Awesome IDE for Windows
On Windows, Visual Studio is the recommended C# IDE. It provides a very flexible GUI that you can rearrange the way you want and many useful features such as refactorings (rename a variable, extract some code into a method, ...) and code formatting (you can pick exactly how you want the code to be formatted).
Visual Studio also highlights your errors when you compile, making your debug sessions more efficient since you don't have to run the code to see the mistakes. There's also a powerful debugger that allows you to execute the code step-by-step and even change what part of the code will be executed next. In addition to giving you all the line-by-line information you'll need in a hassle-free manner, Visual Studio has stuff you can click on in the errors window that will take you to the documentation for that error, saving you several minutes of web searching.
In addition to all of this, Visual Studio has an intuitive, intelligent, and helpful graphical user interface designer that generates code for you (the best of WYSIWYG, in my opinion), which is helpful for new programmers. Being able to create a fantastic-looking UI with one's mouse and then optionally tweak with code helps make programming fun for beginner developers.
Visual Studio also has the best code completion --Intellisense is every bit as intelligent as the name says it is. It, as well as VS's parameter hinting, is context-, type-, user-, and position-sensitive, and displays relevant completions in a perfectly convenient yet understandable order. This feature allows a new programmer to answer the questions "What does this do?" and "How do I use it?" right then and there rather than having to switch to a browser to read through extensive documentation. This allows the programmer to satisfy their curiosity before it is snuffed out by several minutes of struggling through exhaustive documentation.
And for the more adventurous and text-ready developer, Microsoft does the best job of ensuring that everything, from interfaces and wildcard types down to Console.WriteLine("") and the + operator, is well-documented and easy to understand, with relevant and well-explained usage examples that manage to be bite-size yet complete, simple yet truly helpful. The reference site is easy to navigate, well-organized, clean and uncluttered, up-to-date, and fresh and enjoyable to look at, and every page is well-written with consideration for readers who are not C# experts yet want to read about changing the console background color.
The best part? It's free! Visual C# Express contains all of the features described above, at zero cost. If you are a student, you can probably get Visual Studio Professional from your university, which also includes tools for unit testing and supports plugins.
Pro Incredibly Well-Engineered Language
Where other languages invoke the feeling of being a product of organic growth over time, C# just feels like an incredibly well-designed language where everything has its purpose and almost nothing is non-essential.
Pro Great introduction to object-oriented programming
Object-oriented programming is the most widely-used paradigm. C# offers support for common OOP features such as classes, methods and fields, plus some features not found in competing languages like properties, events and static classes.
C# code is much more readable thanks to the syntactic sugar it offers. You can truly concentrate on your code, not on the way it's implemented.
Pro Best language for Windows programs
C# is clearly the best choice for Windows programs. The .NET framework contains everything you need to build great-looking apps, without having to learn the confusing Win32 API or download a ton of external libraries. C# can also be used to build Windows 8's "modern" apps.
Pro Supports some functional features
C# is primarily object-oriented, but it also supports some features typically found in functional languages such as lambdas, delegates and anonymous classes. Methods can be treated like any other object, and the Linq query system operates on monads with lazy evaluation (though it hides this with a lot of syntactic sugar).
You don't need to use these features to code in C#, though, so you can start with OOP and then learn about them.
Pro Very high demand in the industry.
Pro Supported on many platforms
C# can be used for Windows apps, Linux apps, OS X apps, Windows 8 "modern" apps, websites, games, iPhone apps, Android apps, Windows Phone apps, and more.
If you want to create a cross-platform application, you can share most of the code and write one GUI for each platform.
Pro Can mix high and low level programming
You can code at the high level without worrying about pointers and memory management, but if you so choose you can switch to lower level programming with direct memory management and pointer manipulation (though you need to compile to specifically allow this).
Pro Great language for Unity game engine
Unity provides a selection of programming languages depending on preference or knowledge - C#, JS, Boo and UnityScript. C# is arguably the most powerful with better syntax and stronger language structure. It allows using script files without attaching them to any game object (classes, methods inside unattached scripts that can be used at any time). There are more tutorials and information for C# than UnityScript and Visual Studio can be used to code for unity in C#. Additionally, learning C# allows using it outside of Unity as well unlike UnityScript.
Pro With ASP CORE a good language to learn
With CORE you are no longer just limited to Windows, so a language worth learning.
Con Little Job Market
There are little to none jobs searching for a Scheme programmer. The ones that exist are more related to Research in Maths or Artificial Intelligence.
Con Fragmented ecosystem
Scheme is an IEEE standard, not an implementation. Unfortunately, the standard is too minimal and practical implementations have diverged--they had to expand on the standard to get anything done, but did so in incompatible ways.
The later de facto standard R6RS tried to correct this, but lost Scheme's minimalist elegance in the process. The newer R7RS standard takes the best of both worlds with an elegant minimalist core and a practical standard library.
Con Very different semantics from mainstream programming languages
Con Dependecy on IDE
Most people learn and depend on VisualStudio to write C#. The result is people learn how to use an IDE and not the concepts or fundamentals of good programming. This isn't necessarily a knock on the language itself, but it is frustratingly difficult to do things in C# when not using VS.
Con Lacks standard-library support for immutable data structures
Con Complex syntax
Too many syntactic constructs to learn before it becomes usable.
Con Too easy to write multithreading apps that are buggy
Many web frameworks or GUI libraries will push novice users to writing multithreaded code, which leads to frustrating race condition bugs.
Other languages with multithreading push users towards safe constructs, like passing messages and immutable or synchronized containers. But in C# the data structures aren't synchronized by default, and it's too easy to just set a field and observe the result from another thread (until you compile with Release, and now you have a heisenbug).
Con Often-used products in most C# development environments get expensive
The majority of the C# development community uses Microsoft products which are not all free and open-source. As you get into the enterprise level of some of these products and subscriptions, the expense is multiple factors of 10 greater.
While you can use a fully open-source and free C# environment, the community around that is much smaller. While this can be said for other languages as well, the majority of C# falls into the for-pay Microsoft realm.