I have been programming in Visual C# since the days of .NET 1.0 and have always had a deep appreciation for the power its rich yet easy to learn and leverage syntax offers both new and seasoned developers. While I continue to recommend Jesse Liberty's Programming C# to determined programmers new to the C# world, I realize that this thick book might not be for everyone. For those who prefer a more specific walk-through of the language, there is Murach's excellent C# series. At the time of this review, though, Murach has yet to update their series with the C# 2010 release. In the meantime, Microsoft Press has published one of the first to market books targeting those developers who are finally ready to take the C# plunge in a very clear and easy to follow introduction to the language and the Visual Studio 2010 IDE.
Microsoft Visual C# 2010 Step by Step consists of 29 chapters that progressively walk readers through a quick VS 2010 orientation, followed by syntax and working program examples of using statements, various data types and operators, decisions and program flows, iterations, and handling errors and exceptions in C#. Once readers are comfortable with these fundamentals, the author introduces OOP principles in C# via object creation and management, values and references (boxing/unboxing), enumerations and structures, arrays and collections, inheritance, interfaces and abstract classes, and garbage collection. A section on creating custom components teaches readers about properties, indexers, delegates, events, and using Language Integrated Query (LINQ). A section on creating Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) applications is followed by one that demonstrates how to manage data with ADO.NET, LINQ, and using the Entity Framework. The book concludes on advanced topics such as using the Task Parallel Library and PLINQ and creating and consuming web services. An appendix briefly discusses the Dynamic Language Runtime and how this is leveraged in implementations such as IronPython and IronRuby.
I read the electronic version of the book, first on my iPad in EPUB format and then in print-centric PDF format. The EPUB format was definitely easier to read, though the PDF edition retained the feel of the printed publication, and it was easier to reference and get a sense of the virtual thickness of a chapter. I no doubt will gain more proficiency with navigating EPUB files over time, but after years of reading old-fashioned ink on paper, my preference for reading technical books electronically isn't changing as quickly as I would like. This book was also obviously produced with the paper edition in mind, so until the volume of electronic editions exceeds print edition sales, such titles will continue to be optimized for the printed book for some time to come. Case in point: The screenshots in the electronic editions are in black and white, even though the devices that render them can do so in full color at no additional cost. So although the book can certainly be read electronically, new C# developers who need to frequently reference previous lessons will most likely benefit most from the printed edition.
Overall, the author accomplishes his goal of teaching Visual C# 2010 in a fluid, welcoming, and inviting fashion with just enough information to urge new C# coders onward. Plenty of helpful "Note" callout boxes alert readers to tips to remember and pitfalls to avoid, and the code samples are short enough to type in rather than rely on the download files from the book's website. I also really liked the Quick Reference section at the end of each chapter. Until competing books hit the market, Microsoft Visual C# 2010 Step by Step is a book that developers new to C# should seriously consider adding to their bookshelf.
Microsoft Visual C# 2010 Step-by-Step
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars