O’Reilly recently has released two handy and helpful books for practitioners and students of the C# object-oriented programming language. One is a hefty, 1042-page “definitive reference” that (in paperback format) can double as a handy weight for physical exercise. The other is a compact, 215-page reference that really does fit in a coat pocket or pants pocket (but not a typical shirt pocket, unless you happen to wear an XXL, or larger, shirt).
Starting first with the muscle-building reference guide that weighs in at nearly three pounds…
This latest Nutshell edition covers C# 5.0, “the fourth major update to Microsoft’s flagship programming language, an update that positions C# “as a language with unusual flexibility and breadth,” the authors state.
They note: “At one end, it [C#] offers high-level abstractions, such as query expressions and asynchronous continuations, while at the other end, it provides low-level power through constructions such as custom value types and the optional use of pointers.”
The revised and expanded new edition “covers C#, the CLR [Common Language Runtime], and the core Framework assemblies. The authors have chosen this focus “to allow space for difficult topics such as concurrency, security and application domains—without compromising depth or readability.” It’s hard to argue with the “depth” of a book 1,000+ pages long. And the book is written clearly, with numerous short code examples to illustrate its points.
C# 5.0 in a Nutshell is aimed at readers with intermediate to expert knowledge of programming, but no prior knowledge of C# is assumed. Indeed, chapters two through four provide an introduction to C# basics, starting just above the “Hello, World” level with a program that multiplies 12 times 30. The remaining chapters cover advanced C# 5.0 topics and the core .NET framework. With just a few exceptions, you can read these chapters randomly.
The hefty book has a hefty index. It has been “shaped by more than 20 expert reviewers,” including several from Microsoft. And the authors have solid backgrounds in their subject matter.
And now, for something a bit lighter…
The Nutshell authors have boiled their big book down to a very practical aid that you can easily carry to work, class or your favorite coffee shop or when traveling. Conveniently, the Pocket Reference still includes an introduction to C# 5.0’s fundamentals, starting with the simple multiplication program. It also covers many advanced topics, ranging from operator overload and Language Integrated Query (LINQ) to preprocessor directives, custom attributes, and XML documentation.
This book is not organized by chapters, so you will find yourself making frequent use of the book’s two-page table of contents and 12-page index, particularly if you are new to C# 5.0.
But you can readily find brief explanations, code samples and illustrations that define and clarify much of what you are seeking. And you will appreciate the book’s convenient size.
— Si Dunn