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Essential C# 3.0: For .Net Framework 3.5by Mark Michaelis
Throughout the history of software engineering, the methodology used to write computer programs has undergone several paradigm shifts, each building on the foundation of the former by increasing code organization and decreasing complexity. This book takes you through these same paradigm shifts.The beginning chapters take you through sequential programming structure in which statements are written in the order in which they are executed. The problem with this model is that complexity increases exponentially as the requirements increase. To reduce this complexity, code blocks are moved into methods, creating a structured programming model. This allows you to call the same code block from multiple locations within a program, without duplicating code. Even with this construct, however, programs quickly become unwieldy and require further abstraction. Object-oriented programming, discussed in Chapter 5, was the response. In subsequent chapters, you will learn about additional methodologies, such as interface-based programming, LINQ (and the transformation it makes to collection APIs), and, eventually, rudimentary forms of declarative programming (in Chapter 17) via attributes.
This book has three main functions.
The key to successfully learning C# is to start coding as soon as possible. Dont wait until you are an “expert” in theory; start writing software immediately. As a believer in iterative development, I hope this book enables even a novice programmer to begin writing basic C# code by the end of Chapter 2.
A number of topics are not covered in this book. You wont find coverage of topics such as ASP.NET, ADO.NET, smart client development, distributed programming, and so on. Although these topics are relevant to the .NET framework, to do them justice requires books of their own. Fortunately, Addison-Wesleys .NET Development Series provides a wealth of writing on these topics. Reading this book will prepare you to focus on and develop expertise in any of these areas. It focuses on C# and the types within the Base Class Library.
Target Audience for This Book
My challenge with this book was how to keep advanced developers awake while not abandoning beginners by using words such as assembly, link, chain, thread, and fusion, as though the topic was more appropriate for blacksmiths than for programmers. This books primary audience is experienced developers looking to add another language to their quiver. However, I have carefully assembled this book to provide significant value to developers at all levels.
Beginners: If you are new to programming, this book serves as a resource to help transition you from an entry-level programmer to a C# developer, comfortable with any C# programming task thats thrown your way. This book not only teaches you syntax, but also trains you in good programming practices that will serve you throughout your programming career.
Structured programmers: Just as its best to learn a foreign language through immersion, learning a computer language is most effective when you begin using it before you know all the intricacies. In this vein, this book begins with a tutorial that will be comfortable for those familiar with structured programming, and by the end of Chapter 4, developers in this category should feel at home writing basic control flow programs. However, the key to excellence for C# developers is not memorizing syntax. To transition from simple programs to enterprise development, the C# developer must think natively in terms of objects and their relationships. To this end, Chapter 5s Beginner Topics introduce classes and object-oriented development. The role of historically structured programming languages such as C, COBOL, and FORTRAN is still significant but shrinking, so it behooves software engineers to become familiar with object-oriented development. C# is an ideal language for making this transition because it was designed with object-oriented development as one of its core tenets.
Object-based and object-oriented developers: C++ and Java programmers, and many experienced Visual Basic programmers, fall into this category. Many of you are already completely comfortable with semicolons and curly braces. A brief glance at the code in Chapter 1 reveals that at its core, C# is similar to the C and C++ style languages that you already know.
C# professionals: For those already versed in C#, this book provides a convenient reference for less frequently encountered syntax. Furthermore, it provides answers to language details and subtleties seldom addressed. Most important, it presents the guidelines and patterns for programming robust and maintainable code. This book also aids in the task of teaching C# to others. With the emergence of C# 3.0, some of the most prominent enhancements are
These topics are covered in detail for those who are not already familiar with them. Also pertinent to advanced C# development is the subject of pointers, in Chapter 21. Even experienced C# developers often do not understand this topic well.
Features of This Book
Essential C# 3.0 is a language book that adheres to the core C# Language 3.0 Specification. To help you understand the various C# constructs, it provides numerous examples demonstrating each feature. Accompanying each concept are guidelines and best practices, ensuring that code compiles, avoids likely pitfalls, and achieves maximum maintainability.
To improve readability, code is specially formatted and chapters are outlined using mind maps.
The code snippets in most of this text can run on any implementation of the Common Language Infrastructure (CLI), including the Mono, Rotor, and Microsoft .NET platforms. Platform- or vendor-specific libraries are seldom used, except when communicating important concepts relevant only to those platforms (appropriately handling the single-threaded user interface of Windows, for example). Any code that specifically requires C# 3.0 compliance is called out in the Appendix C, C# 3.0 Topics.
The formatting is as follows.
Although it might have been convenient to provide full code samples that you could copy into your own programs, doing so would distract you from learning a particular topic. Therefore, you need to modify the code samples before you can incorporate them into your programs. The core omission is error checking, such as exception handling. Also, code samples do not explicitly include using System statements. You need to assume the statement throughout all samples.
You can find sample code at http://mark.michaelis.net/EssentialCSharp.
Depending on your level of experience, special code blocks and margin notations will help you navigate through the text.
Each chapters introduction includes a mind map, which serves as an outline that provides an at-a-glance reference to each chapters content.
The theme of each chapter appears in the mind maps center. High-level topics spread out from the core. Mind maps allow you to absorb the flow from high-level to more detailed concepts easily, with less chance of encountering very specific knowledge that you might not be looking for.
How This Book Is Organized
At a high level, software engineering is about managing complexity, and it is toward this end that I have organized Essential C# 3.0. Chapters 1-4 introduce structured programming, which enables you to start writing simple functioning code immediately. Chapters 5-9 present the object-oriented constructs of C#. Novice readers should focus on fully understanding this section before they proceed to the more advanced topics found in the remainder of this book. Chapters 11-13 introduce additional complexity-reducing constructs, handling common patterns needed by virtually all modern programs. This leads to dynamic programming with reflection and attributes, which is used extensively for threading and interoperability, the chapters that follow next.
The book ends with a chapter on the Common Language Infrastructure, which describes C# within the context of the development platform in which it operates. This chapter appears at the end because it is not C#-specific and it departs from the syntax and programming style in the rest of the book. However, this chapter is suitable for reading at any time, perhaps most appropriately immediately following Chapter 1.
The following is a description of each chapter. (Asterisks indicate entirely new chapters dedicated to C# 3.0 material. Bold chapter titles indicate chapters that contain C# 3.0 material.)
I hope you find this book to be a great resource in establishing your C# expertise and that you continue to reference it for the more obscure areas of C# and its inner workings.
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