TMCnet Feature
October 07, 2019

Introduction To Switch Statement In Programming

In the world of programming and coding and generally in information technology, the switch statement is a key feature that you will hear of extensively. The switch statement refers to the selection control mechanism that allows the variable value to change the individual statement's order of the software execution through search.

The switch statement is essential and common in programming languages such as c++, Visual Basic, Java, Ada and many more. This is a feature you need to be conversant with as a programmer more so if you are dealing with program paradigms using statements that change the software’s state.

If you are a programmer, the switch statement is a good companion for your coding stint more so when looking at improved performance the same to its readability.

History Of The Switch Statement

The switch statement concept can be traced back to the early 1950s when programming languages were still in their infancy steps. With developments in the languages, the switch statements too evolved to befit the present state of the languages. At the moment, this feature is extensively used in programming and is a constant in many programming languages to provide a suitable path for coding purposes with its efficiency being a huge determining factor in the outcome.


In programming, syntax is the expression that you create focusing on the value. For example, the c++ switch statement syntax involves the first select, followed by an expression of the switch statement commonly known as the control variable.

The following lines define the actuality of the cases looking for matches that initiate an execution. Finally, the break statement succeeds in the case statement to need the expression. Each line begins with a select value that can be matched with corresponding statements. In the case of a default option, the case is also defined by else or default keyword. Most of the time, in case there is no match an error can present itself.

Pros And Cons Of The Switch Statement

The switch statement feature has a lot of supporters who appreciate it due to the many advantages it presents making it a worthy companion to you as a programmer. When looking at the advantages of the switch statement, the if-else case is the point of comparison.

One of its major advantages is that it is easier to debug. This involves the detection and removal of errors that can come in the way of getting a suitable code. This comes where you can set up breakpoints on the code.

Another pro of the switch statement is the ease of a coder to read it and understand its protocol. This is a very important feature that can help you as the programmer come up with an effective code for your programs. The ease to read it makes it also easier to understand and subsequently manageable when looking at its maintenance.

In the case of optimization in its implementation, execution is quite fast due to the use of an indexed jump table. This makes it more efficient.

Verification is very important and the switch statement provides an ample environment for this by ensuring all values are handled with alerts and notifications on point in case of any error in handling.

Among the cons of the switch statement is that you need to exercise extra care, especially when using a break. Failure to use a break can lead to a free fall in the program hence compromising the results. Also, it can only check for correspondence where you cannot compare variables not equal to the values of the variable in question.

When it comes to the variable expression, you cannot use it in case the same to the relation expression. The same constant can also not be used in two instances.

Alternative Uses

The switch statement comes in handy when comparing variables and also for debugging purposes when coming up with a code. It is also useful when testing for the class of a variable, especially in Ruby. It additionally checks for multiple variables against one variable for comparison reasons.

You can also use the switch statement in low-level programming languages and also in exception handling. When it comes to exception handling, it picks up a separate branch in the case of a raised exception in the block.


The switch statement is an essential feature when it comes to programming and is a great alternative to the if-else statement. It is great to use especially when looking at its readability and comprehension aspects. It has been in use for long and is a worthy companion for a variety of languages from c++, Java and many more.

It is useful when comparing variables and presents the ease in debugging which is a feature to look out for when coming up with codes. However, it is advisable to know some of its cons for a worthy moment using it.

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