Sams Teach Yourself Visual C# 2010 in 24 Hours
Author: Scott Dorman
Publisher: Sams
Pages: 560
ISBN: 978-0672331015
Aimed at: Difficult to say
Rating: 3
Pros: Some useful info and advice
Cons: Too fast paced for beginner, too shallow for expert
Reviewed by: Mike James

This is a new version by a new author of the Visual C#  in 24 hours book, not just an upgrade of the 2008 version.

The first thing to say is that this book claims not to be for complete beginners. You need to have some idea how to program before starting to learn C# in 24 hours. Even so the book starts out slowly enough with an overview of the .NET system and C# in particular. However, it fairly quickly ramps up the pace and quickly starts to read like a manual rather than an introductory text. The writing style is also suitable for the advanced reader. For example on page 20, i.e. very early in the book, we have:

Scope can be thought of as a container in which it is legal to refer to a variable with its unqualified name... A variable is guaranteed to be alive at least as long as the scope is executing.

Well I don't think about scope as something that is executing and a simpler and more user-friendly explanation of what scope is all about should be possible.  Equally you could ask if we really need to tackle the subject of scope as early as page 20? Yet straight after some fairly technical discussion we have a handholding step-by-step look at using Visual Studio complete with lots of screen dumps - is this supposed to be for the same reader?


The book then quickly forgets the slow pace of the screen dumped based introduction to VS and starts to ramp up the pace. In hour 2 we look at Type, then classes, inheritance, enumerated types and structures and events.

This brings us to Part II of the book "Programming in C#"  Why we need a new section is quite obvious as we go back to looking at some basics - hour 7 program flow, then strings and regular expressions, arrays and collections, errors and exceptions, generic and finally LINQ. What binds this selection together is difficult to see and why particular ideas are introduced when they are is also difficult to fathom. For example why introduce strings and easy and very vital topic along with regular expressions which are difficult and can be left until they are needed. Why put arrays together with collections and so on. And why end the section on LINQ when the next section is on working with data?

Part III is all about working with data but moves back down the level to first deal with files, then up to XML, and up to ADO .NET and LINQ. Part IV is intended as an integration of all that has gone before and is about building applications. Hour 16 deals with debugging, then on to WPF, data binding, and ASP .NET.

Finally Part V is called Digging Deeper and if you are anything like a beginner you will wonder how much deeper you can go. In this section we have some fairly advanced topics, attributes, dynamic types, garbage collection, threads, concurrency and PLINQ and finally Silverlight, Powershell and the Entity Framework. All dealt with at the most superficial level and with little real explanation or examples. You have to ask that question of why bother to introduce such advanced topics at such breakneck speeds?

Overall it is difficult to see who this particular volume is aimed at. It has some good snippets of information and bits of advice that ring true but basically it covers too much ground in too little space and even if you could get though it all in 24 hours you would be little better of than before you started. If you are beginner then this is too advanced and too arbitrary in the order of presentation and level. If you know another language you might cope with some of the material but again its an arbitrary order that moves up and down the difficulty level. Finally if you are an expert then you presumably should know most of this stuff and at best it is going to be a refresher. It's simply too shallow a treatment to be useful in this case.

It's not a truly terrible book but I can't see who exactly to recommend it to - unless of course you recognise your own particular set of requirements in the outline of the book.


Ruby on Rails 3 Tutorial

Author: Michael Hartl
Publisher: Addison-Wesley, 2010
Pages: 576
ISBN: 978-0321743121
Aimed at: Intermediate Ruby developers
Rating: 4.5
Pros: Grounded in the real world
Cons: Expects you to go to a lot of effort
Reviewed by: Ian Elliot


This book takes a very realistic approach. This is pretty demandi [ ... ]

Coders at Work: Reflections on the Craft of Programming

Author: Peter Seibel
Publisher: Apress, 2009
Pages: 617
ISBN: 978-1430219484
Aimed at: All programmers
Rating: 2.5
Pros: A good concept
Cons: Unexpectedly boring
Reviewed by: Ian Elliot

A series of interviews between a programmer and some of the best known names in programming. Does this format work?

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Last Updated ( Monday, 18 October 2010 )

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