I like the “Start Here!” series from Microsoft Press. The books, in my view, provide a convenient, affordable and approachable way to develop some new skills in a hurry, without having to take classes.
There is nothing wrong with taking classes, of course. Most of us in America’s workforce (working or unemployed) need all of the new skills and education we can get. But if, like me, you’ve checked the prices of online classes lately and also looked at your checking account, you likely need some affordable alternatives.
If you are ready to tackle Microsoft Visual C# 2010, you definitely can “Start Here!”, with John Paul Muller’s well-written new book.
Learn Microsoft Visual C# 2010 has been “conceived and created for the complete novice–someone who has no programming experience at all.” And it uses a hands-on approach to learning. It is not recommended for experienced programmers seeking to pick up another language.
But if you are, indeed, a complete novice to computer programming, you probably should read another “Start Here!” book first: Fundamentals of Microsoft .NET Programming by Rod Stephens. Or, at least have that book handy to read in conjunction with Learn Microsoft Visual C# 2010.
The “Fundamentals” book explains and illustrates many essential terms and concepts, such as routines, call stacks, and passing parameters. And sometimes, in Learn Microsoft Visual C# 2010, you will be referred to some of the definitions and examples found in Fundamentals of Microsoft .NET Programming.
The software download section of Learn Microsoft Visual C# 2010 may be a bit confusing for some beginners. Some of the screens and choices have changed somewhat and some have been combined since the book was published.
And while the author says “you don’t need a copy of SQL Server to work through the examples in this book,” the “Code Samples” discussion in the book’s introduction says otherwise.: “…your system should have Visual Studio 2010 and SQL Server 2008 installed.”
I left an SQL option box unchecked when setting up for my download, but I still received all of the SQL files. And, altogether, I spent a ridiculous 14 hours going through (and sometimes sleeping through) the download and installation process on a somewhat aging PC running Windows XP and a not-so-blazing wi-fi connection.
Your results will vary. So do not be in a hurry, even with a fast system. Set aside plenty of time to do things right once you start the process.
But at least all of the software tools used in this book are free. And once things are up and running, the author takes you right into the process of learning how to develop applications using C#.
His book is divided into 12 chapters:
- Chapter 1: Getting to Know C# – Includes the Integrated Development Environment (IDE), creating and testing a Windows Forms application project, viewing its code, using Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), creating and testing a WPF project, and viewing the code produced.
- Chapter 2: Developing a Web Project – Focuses on developing two web applications using C#. Also shows how to download and install tools used to develop web applications.
- Chapter 3: Using Simple Data Manipulation Techniques – Introduces data manipulation and shows how to use Language Integrated Inquiry (LINQ) to manipulate data.
- Chapter 4: Using Collections to Store Data – Shows how to create containers to store similar data together, and explains three different types of data storage.
- Chapter 5: Working with XML – Shows how to use eXtensible Markup Language (XML) in tasks such as saving applications settings and working with web services.
- Chapter 6: Accessing a Web Service – Shows how to access free web services using two techniques that C# provides: Representational State Transfer (REST) and Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP).
- Chapter 7: Using the Windows Presentation Foundation – Focuses on using WPF to “help you create applications with impressive interfaces and new features that aren’t available using older C# development techniques.”
- Chapter 8: Working with Libraries – Programmers try to reuse code as much as possible, to speed up the development process. This chapter shows how to create and use a library as part of an application.
- Chapter 9: Creating Utility Applications – “…shows how to create applications that have a command-line interface so that you can work with them quickly and automate them in various ways.”
- Chapter 10: Using LINQ in Web Applications – Shows how to use LINQ to ask an application to supply certain types of data.
- Chapter 11: Working with Silverlight Applications – Silverlight “works with multiple browsers and on multiple platforms” and “can transform your C# application into something that works everywhere.” This chapter focuses on understanding “the basics of Silverlight development using C#.”
- Chapter 12: Debugging Applications – Shows how to apply tracing techniques learned in this book to the process of finding and fixing errors.
The code samples used in the learning exercises can be downloaded from a Microsoft site. And, once you work your way through the book, the author says you may want to move up to another book, Microsoft Visual C# Step by Step.
You also may be eager to take a C# class, online or on campus, where you can learn from an instructor and fellow students.
It all depends on your resources and how committed you are to programming in C# after you “Start Here!”
— Si Dunn