Microsoft Press recently has released two new books for .NET programmers. One is for .NET newcomers, and the other definitely is not. That book has been written “to help existing Microsoft Visual Basic and Microsoft Visual C# developers understand collections in .NET.”
Here are short reviews of each book.
Easy Does It
Start Here! Fundamentals of Microsoft .NET Programming
By Rod Stephens
(Microsoft Press, paperback, list price $19.99; Kindle edition, list price $15.99)
This is a very good reference manual for anyone ready to take up .NET programming or ready to learn virtually any programming language.
Don’t be put off by the fact that the book starts out at the most basic of basic levels, defining different types of computers, just in case you don’t know a laptop from a mainframe. After that, it moves quickly into the world of programming.
You don’t need a computer, software, programming language tools or programming experience to learn from this book. Indeed, it mostly employs pseudo-code, illustrations and clear writing to explain each topic.
The idea here is to teach you “the basic concepts that drive all .NET-based languages” and to provide a reference book that you can refer back to when you are unsure about a particular term, concept, process or method.
For example, if you are now learning Microsoft Visual C# or Visual Basic, you might need to review the chapter on operators, to be sure you clearly understand what may happen if the wrong symbol is used and the correct order of precedence is not followed.
The 14 chapters of Fundamentals of Microsoft .NET Programming deal with subjects many programmers definitely should know:
- Chapter 1, “Computer Hardware”
- Chapter 2, “Multiprocessing”
- Chapter 3, “Programming Environments”
- Chapter 4, “Windows Program Components” – (Describes the visible pieces of a Windows program that a user sees and how to use them effectively as a programmer.)
- Chapter 5, “Controls” – (Such as labels, text boxes, menus, sliders, scroll bars, etc.)
- Chapter 6, “Variables”
- Chapter 7, “Control Statements’” – (Using them to manage a program’s flow of execution.)
- Chapter 8, “Operators”
- Chapter 9, “Routines”
- Chapter 10, “Object-Oriented Programming”
- Chapter 11, “Development Techniques”
- Chapter 12, “Globalization” – (Explains how to localize a program in Visual Studio so that it works in multiple places. Also looks at several localization issues.)
- Chapter 13, “Data Storage”
- Chapter 14, “.NET Libraries” – (Describes some of the most-useful libraries for writing .NET programs.)
You can read the 14 chapters in any order, jumping around “to suit your interests and needs,” the author adds.
That’s the hallmark of a good reference book.
Taking Up Collections
Developer’s Guide to Collections in Microsoft .NET
By Calvin Janes
(Microsoft Press, paperback, list price $34.99; Kindle edition, list price $23.99)
“This book,” the author cautions, “is not a .NET primer for beginners; it’s intended for developers already conversant with .NET and comfortable with either the C# or Visual Basic .NET language.”
Developer’s Guide to Collections in Microsoft .NET is heavy on how-to code examples and exercises, and all sample projects can be downloaded from a web page specified in the text. Many of the code examples conveniently are shown both in C# and Visual Basic.
The book is divided into 11 chapters that are grouped into four parts:
- Part 1, Collection Basics
- Part II, .NET Built-in Collections
- Part III, Using Collections
- Part IV, Using Collections with UI Controls
There is also a nicely detailed, 14-page index.
“The book is arranged so that developers who are new to collections can get started quickly, and those who are already familiar with collections can treat the book as a useful reference,” the author says.
He has included a helpful table titled “Finding Your Best Starting Point in This Book.” For example, if you are not new to .NET and want to learn how to query your collections with the Language Integrated Query (LINQ), the table advises: “Read through Chapter 7 in Part III.” That’s the “Introduction to LINQ” chapter.
The author says he wanted to create “a one-stop shop for anyone struggling with collections: from beginners to experts who just need a reference or a few pointers here and there.”
With this fine work, he has met that goal. Its 624 pages are packed with good how-to collections information, clearly explained and illustrated, from how to implement arrays and synchronize data across threads to how to use simple data binding to display collections in Windows Forms®, Windows Silverlight® and Windows Presentation Foundation®.
– Si Dunn