Book Review: Pro C# 2008 and the .NET 3.5 Platform

15 April 2008

Wow. This book rocks: Pro C# 2008 and the .NET 3.5 Platform, by Andrew Troelsen.  I’d recommend it to anyone that wants to get a lot of meat on 3.5 and down to business.  It’s a massive book and well worth making room for in your office collection.  It’s hard cover.

When I picked up the book several months ago, my main intention was to get everything I needed to grok 3.5, after being focused on Silverlight for a while I realized that I wasn’t making full use of LINQ and other sexy features in my code.  This reference did it for me, with MSDN as my backup for any of the nitty gritty topics like lambdas and expression trees.  Today I’m still using the book often as a clear way to introduce others to the new platform.

A nice bonus was the ability to grab a PDF of the entire book from Apress for free after buying the book.  I don’t know if this is a sign of the future or not, but being able to pull the book up in Adobe Acrobat has been almost as useful as being able to take the book to my favorite coffee shop to focus on the new 3.5 platform.

Don’t expect this book to tell you how to create a data structure, or what a ‘for’ loop is.  The title is prefixed by Pro and it isn’t joking.  This was enjoyable compared to many of today’s books that fill a few hundred pages with the obvious.

What surprised me, and many .NET developers will appreciate beyond the awesome C# 3.5 coverage: Details on so much of all things .NET – this is NOT a book for niche developers (web- only, client- only, looking to figure out XAML), but rather for enthusiasts, experts and technologists looking for breadth of knowledge.  There’s some coverage of WPF.  In-depth CLR stuff: assemblies, metadata, IL.

At the end of the day, C# 3.5 is great.  Where I thought that generics were the bomb in 2.0, it is now obvious that C# has grown quite a bit since then.

Book organization

The Table of Contents can be downloaded online.  The book is organized into these sections:

  • Introducing C# and the .NET Platform
  • Core C# Programming Constructs
  • Advanced C# Programming Constructs
  • Programming with .NET Assemblies
  • Introducing the .NET Base Class Libraries
  • Desktop User Interfaces
  • Building Web Applications with ASP.NET
  • Appendixes

You’ll also find the book’s summary, source, bonus chapters, and a sample chapter on the Philosophy of .NET (kind of like a quick boot camp for pros) on the site for the book.

Note, there’s also now a VB edition of this book available.  I’m not familiar with it, but since it’s also by Andrew Troelsen, I’ll assume that a lot of the material overlaps, especially on the full stack and platform coverage.  Might be a good candidate to browse at a local bookseller.

Hope you find the book as helpful!

Jeff Wilcox is a Software Engineer at Microsoft in the Open Source Programs Office (OSPO), helping Microsoft engineers use, contribute to and release open source at scale.

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