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The wonderful people of Sams Publishing were kind enough to send me a few books to review recently, and one of them was C# 4.0 How-To by Ben Watson. 

There were a couple things about this book that really compelled me.  The format (this is a first How-To book by Sams for me so I assume it goes across the board) was very much like a focused blog.  It was broken up into small posts about each topic.  The other thing that compelled me was the amount of code samples.

This is not a book that you can sit down and read.  Instead, this is a book that you set on your desk and put post-its and dog ears for key sections that you use and use and use before you put the pattern to memory.   I remember when I first started writing software and everyone had the Microsoft white reference books that became the MSDN Library after time.  If you had to work with sockets, you would mark out that section with post-its and go back and forth each time you visited a section of code that needed sockets until you had put the use of that particular syntax to memory.  Then a few apps down the road, you would visit it again for a refresher.  I could definitely see this book fitting into a developers toolkit for that reason.  The internet is very useful for quick answers, but sometimes you need something like a reference book you can really get in, underline or highlight, and make it your own.

There is definitely enough code in this book, so that was exciting to see.  Ben is a software engineer (or at least at the time of authoring) at Bing so the samples are much like what you would want when search on a topic.  There is nothing like trying to find a answer to a problem and after search, you are sent to a forum site where someone else is trying to find the answer to their problems.  Most of the time the answers are not documented well and need the touch of a blog post to really give someone the answer to the problem you are solving.  The other option is a book and I can see this one could help fill in that need.

Couple things I would add to the next version:

  • I know everything is getting smaller; computers, cars, etc.  But a reference book needs to be large and a book with a lot of code needs to be large.  This book is the smaller than a Kindle or iPad in footprint and since it would spend the majority of time on my desk, I have room to spare so I don’t have line breaks in the code that are not necessary. 
  • What is 4.0?  What is 3.5? What is 2.0?  etc.  With a language like C#, it would be nice to see a marker or what versions are supported for that solution.  Not required since the book is called 4.0, but would be nice for the version hoppers like myself.
  • This is just a beef with the industry, but I really want color coded code samples.  The book cost quite a bit, $39.99 retail, so it would be awesome to have color print with the massive amount of code samples.  Hopefully the industry will pick up on this.

Who would I recommend this book to:

  • Someone moving from 3.0 to 4.0 that already has another book covering the changes, but needs an updated reference book
  • Someone moving from another language or framework who needs to be able to compare solutions from the other side
  • A new .NET developer who needs to beef up on solutions, but understands syntax well.


Buy this book now on – I am a fan of Amazon, I do most of my daily shopping there.

Posted on Monday, October 18, 2010 9:46 AM | Back to top

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