I started reading this ebook on September 28, 2013, the same day it was sent my way by Manning Publications Co. for review while it still being fresh off the press.
So 1st thing – thanks to Manning for this opportunity and a free copy of this must have on every C# developer’s desk book!
Several hours ago I finished reading this book (well, except a for a large portion of its quite lengthy appendix). I jumped writing this review right away while still being full of emotions and impressions from reading it thoroughly and running code examples.
Before I go any further I would like say that I used to program on various platforms using various languages starting with the Mainframe and ending on Windows, and I gradually shifted toward dealing with databases more than anything, however it happened with me to program in C# 1 a lot when it was first released and then some C# 2 with a big leap in between to C# 5. So my perception and experience reading this book may differ from yours. Also what I want to tell is somewhat funny that back then, knowing some Java and seeing C# 1 released, initially made me drawing a parallel that it is a copycat language, how wrong was I… Interestingly, Jon programs in Java full time, but how little it was mentioned in the book!
So more on the book:
Be informed, this is not a typical “Recipes”, “Cookbook” or any set of ready solutions, it is rather targeting mature, advanced developers who do not only know how to use a number of features, but are willing to understand how the language is operating “under the hood”.
I must state immediately, at the same time I am glad the author did not go into the murky depths of the MSIL, so this is a very welcome decision on covering a modern language as C# for me, thank you Jon!
Frankly, not all was that rosy regarding the tone and structure of the book, especially the the first half or so filled me with several negative and positive emotions overpowering each other. To expand more on that, some statements in the book appeared to be bias to me, or filled with pre-justice, it started to look like it had some PR-sole in it, but thankfully this was all gone toward the end of the 1st third of the book. Specifically, the mention on the C# language popularity, Java is the #1 language as per https://sites.google.com/site/pydatalog/pypl/PyPL-PopularitY-of-Programming-Language (many other sources put C at the top which I highly doubt), also many interesting functional languages as Clojure and Groovy appeared and gained huge traction which run on top of Java/JVM whereas C# does not enjoy such a situation. If we want to discuss the popularity in general and say how fast a developer can find a new job that pays well it would be indeed the very Java, C++ or PHP, never C#. Or that phrase on language preference as a personal issue? We choose where to work or we are chosen because of a technology used at a given software shop, not vice versa. The book though it technically very accurate with valid code, concise examples, but I wish the author would give more concrete, real-life examples on where each feature should be used, not how.
Another point to realize before you get the book is that it is almost a live book which started to be written when even C# 3 wasn’t around so a lot of ground is covered (nearly half of the book) on the pre-C# 3 feature releases so if you already have a solid background in the previous releases and do not plan to upgrade, perhaps half of the book can be skipped, otherwise this book is surely highly recommended.
Alas, for me it was a hard read, most of it. It was not boring (well, only may be two times), it was just hard to grasp some concepts, but do not get me wrong, it did made me pause, on several occasions, and made me read and re-read a page or two. At times I even wondered if I have any IQ at all (LOL).
Be prepared to read A LOT on generics, not that they are widely used in the field (I happen to work as a consultant and went thru a lot of code at many places) I can tell my impression is the developers today in best case program using examples found at OpenStack.com. Also unlike the Java world where having the most recent version is nearly mandated by the OSS most companies on the Microsoft platform almost never tempted to upgrade the .Net version very soon and very often.
As a side note, I was glad to see code recently that included a nullable variable (myvariable? notation) and this made me smile, besides, I recommended that person this book to expand her knowledge.
The good things about this book is that Jon maintains an active forum, prepared code snippets and even a small program (Snippy) that is happy to run the sample code saving you from writing any plumbing code.
A tad now on the C# language itself – it sure enjoyed a wonderful road toward perfection and a very high adoption, especially for ASP development. But to me all the recent features that made this statically typed language more dynamic look strange. Don’t we have F#? Which supposed to be the dynamic language? Why do we need to have a hybrid language? Now the developers live their lives in dualism of the static and dynamic variables! And LINQ to SQL, it is covered in depth, but wasn’t it supposed to be dropped? Also it seems that very little is being added, and at a slower pace, e.g. Roslyn will come in late 2014 perhaps, and will be probably the only main feature.
Again, it is quite hard to read this book as various chapters, C# versions mentioned every so often only if I only could remember what was covered exactly where! So the fact it has so many jumps/links back and forth I recommend the ebook format to make the navigations easier to perform and I do recommend using software that allows bookmarking, also make sure you have access to plenty of coffee and pizza (hey, you probably know this joke – who a programmer is) !
In terms of closing, if you stuck at C# 1 or 2 level, it is time to embrace the power of C# 5!
Finally, to compliment Manning, this book unlike from any other publisher so far, was the only one as well readable (put it formatted) on my tablet as in Adobe Reader on a laptop.