Procedural Programming | what should you know?

There are many programming paradigms among which procedural programming (PP) is one. A programming paradigm is a way to think about software development, it is a style to write a program, it is a methodology to code.

According to Wikipedia, the procedural programming paradigm is derived from structured procedural programming language. It is based on the concept of the procedure call. Procedures are also called subroutines or pure functions. It’s a series of computational steps to be performed.

PP uses the top-down approach and is also known as inline programming. It’s all about writing a series of instructions that tell the computer what to do using function calls. Maybe it is the first programming paradigm that a new developer should learn.

When the program is executed, a given procedure might be called by any other procedure or itself, at any point. Languages that use this paradigm include FORTRAN, COBOL, PASCAL, ALGOL, BASIC, and C.

Procedural Programming (PP) vs. procedure oriented programming Object-Oriented Programming (OOP)

Procedural vs. object oriented programming
Source: SlideShare

Object oriented programming vs procedural programming are very different paradigms. Below we outline the differences of procedural programming vs oop.

In procedural programming, the whole program is divided into smaller chunks called functions. This paradigm uses the top-down approach. While, in object-oriented program types of programming, the program is divided into smaller parts called objects. This paradigm uses a bottom-up approach.

Procedural programming is less secure and it does not have any proper way to hide data. It uses no access specifiers (i.e. private, protected, and public keywords), as well as classes and objects. It is not easy to add new data and functions using this paradigm, even with the predefined functions.

On the other hand, OOP is more secure as it provides a proper way for data hiding. OOP uses three access specifiers: private, protected, and public. It is easy to add new data and functions using this paradigm.

Procedural Programming is not based on the real world. In PP, the function is more important than data. The overloading mechanism is not possible with this paradigm.

Whereas: OOP is based on the real world objects. In this programming paradigm, data is more important than function. We can perform an overloading mechanism using Object-Oriented Programming.

5 key features of procedural programming

Below we explain the key features of procedural programs:

1. Modularity:

Modularity means logical partitioning of complex software to make it manageable: in terms of implementation and maintenance.

In PP, modularity is when two dissimilar systems are grouped to execute a larger task. Every system has different tasks that it completes one after another until all tasks are finished.

2. Pre-defined functions:

There are also called Built-in functions provided by language processor (compiler/interpreter) mostly in high-level programming languages.

A pre-defined function is an instruction identified by a name. They are derived from the registry or programming libraries instead of a program. Take “charAt()” built-in function as an example that searches for a character position in a string.

3. Local variable:

In simple terms, a variable that is declared within the structure of a method is called a local variable. Such variables are limited to their given local scope.

A local variable can only be used in the method, in which it is defined. If we use a local variable outside the defined method, the code will generate an error.

4. Global variable:

A variable that is declared outside every other function defined in a program is called a global variable.

Due to this reason, a global variable can be used by all functions in a program, unlike a local variable.

5. Parameter passing:

It is a mechanism used to pass parameters to procedures or functions. Parameters can be passed by some methods named as:

  • Pass by value
  • Pass by reference
  • Pass by the name
  • Pass by value-result

Advantages of Procedural Programming

  • As PP paradigm means step by step instructions or a logical sequence of code that tells the computer to perform a specific task, that’s why it’s easy for a programmer to track the program flow.
  • PP is excellent for general-purpose programming.
  • There is a large variety of books and online course material available on the internet that makes it easy to learn.
  • Its source code is portable and thus can be used to target a different CPU as well.
  • This programming paradigm requires less memory.
  • To code with PP is simple. Code can be reused in the program without the need to copy.

Disadvantages of Procedural Programming

  • Using PP, data is exposed to the whole program, making it less secure.
  • It is very difficult to relate to the PP paradigm with real-world problems.
  • It is difficult to identify the belonging of global data in a large program.
  • In PP, modification of global data requires the modification of functions using it.
  • Due to global data, maintaining and enhancing code is difficult in larger programs.
  • In PP, importance is given to the operation rather than data that may cause issues in data-sensitive cases.


In computer science, PP is easy to learn and implement. It’s easy for new programmers to start their journey with a procedural paradigm. It will certainly help to understand how the procedural languages works.

Due to its limitations, real-world applications are not using the PP paradigm.

To expose real-world problems, learners should have to learn other programming paradigms as well. This paradigm focuses more on what you are doing instead of how you are doing.

Popular Programming Paradigms in 2020: Let’s have a look at some MAJOR Programming Paradigms in detail:

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