Book Review: Murach's C# 2010

Learning C#, big-book style

Murach's C# 2010
Author: Joel Murach
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Price: $54.50

I have been reviewing various iterations of Murach's C# tutorial books since their C# 2005 release, and as long as Murach continues to update this flagship title, I will continue to eagerly look forward to reading their latest educational interpretation of the language. Read on to find out what Murach brings to this newest edition, and if the book format continues to deliver value to the C# student.

The trajectory of instruction follows a similar path compared to previous editions, starting out with getting readers acclimated with the Murach style followed by an introduction to the Visual Studio IDE and applying the examples in the book within the context of this environment. And although all the book's code can be downloaded from the Murach website, it's not encouraged to do so, since the learning process is more effective when students type in the code themselves. Besides, thanks to the power of the .NET Framework and the efficient syntax of C#, there's really not that much code required to help emphasize the principles being taught.

Interestingly, Windows Forms are still given top billing in this edition. Considering the trend toward Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) and Silverlight applications, the choice to stick with this gentrified technology is perplexing. Perhaps this is because Murach decided to focus predominantly on learning C# and not the newer .NET presentation technologies that the language can manipulate. Regardless, I would have preferred a greater emphasis on the presentation layer that Microsoft built the Visual Studio 2010 user interface with, as opposed to something as old and bland as Windows Forms.

New to this edition are updated screenshots and changes made to the C# and the .NET 4.0 Framework. An entire chapter is dedicated to understanding and using LINQ. This was a smart move by Murach considering the importance of this technology and the ease with which it makes working with data. While these additions are somewhat minor, they do bring the Murach C# line up to Microsoft's current state of language and framework innovation, ensuring that Murach stays relevant in today's computer programming world.

As with all Murach titles, the big-book format coupled with the large-size font makes reading the book in tandem with working through the exercises next to a computer a comfortable experience. Compared to other technical tutorial books that flop about due to smaller trim size or firmly bound spines (not to mention small fonts not conducive for reading when switching contexts between print and screen), Murach's books have been made for the active reading and learning experience. I have yet to see other publishers of language tutorial books match this balanced approach that the Murach format has perfected. So while Murach typically charges more for their books due to this larger material format, the speed of knowledge transfer coupled with the strain-free reading is a substantial advantage compared to competing titles.

Overall, Murach's C# 2010 continues the finely tuned tradition of delivering a solid introduction to the many facets of C# and the .NET Framework while keeping it up to date with the latest innovations that Microsoft brings to their technologies. Those who are coming to C# for the first time, such as students, new programmers, and Visual Basic holdouts, will find that learning the language via the Murach way is one of the most memorably efficient methods such a technical title in print can deliver today.

Mike Riley ([email protected]) is an advanced computing professional specializing in emerging technologies and new development trends. He also is a contributing editor for DevProConnections. Follow Mike on Twitter @mriley.

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