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Keywords: C#, .NET, Visual Studio
Title: Build A Program Now! Visual C# Express Edition
Author: Patrice Pelland
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Media: Book, CD
Verdict: Colourful design but lacks some depth
The clue is in the title. No book entitled 'Build a Program Now!' (note the exclamation) is going to be pitched at the professional (or would-be professional) developer. As you'd expect, this is a book that's aimed directly at the beginning hobbyist. More than that it's for a beginner who wants to learn how to develop software using C# and .NET. Given the intended audience, how does the book fare as a learning guide?
The first thing that strikes the reader is the design and layout of the book. It's big and colourful, with lots of screen-shots, side-bars, diagrams and schematics, along with good use of colour in the text headings. There are no big blocks of text, it's pretty much lots of short pieces broken up with step-by-step instructions, source code and notes.
The content consists of some quick introductions to .NET, C# and Visual C# Express Edition (which is on the accompanying CD along with a copy of Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Express Edition). These are fly-pasts that give a quick intro before moving quickly onto the tutorials/projects that provide the bulk of the learning experiences.
The pace of the tutorials is pretty fast, and anyone who follows along will be learning as much about the development tools as they will about the C# language or the underlying principles of object oriented design. And this is where the problem lies. While the examples look good, and provide the reader with fairly instant gratification, the fact is that the complexities of inheritance, polymorphism, encapsulation and the like are not really explored to any depth. This may suit some people, particularly those who just want to dive in and start producing software, but there are also those who'll get to the end of the book and not have learned as much as they were hoping.
On the plus side, the fact that the book comes with both Visual C# and SQL Server Express Editions is a big bonus. It means that you can simply buy the book and get going straightaway. On the minus side there's a serious lack of depth that no amount of exclamation marks or gee whiz expressions can hide. For a hobbyist looking to learn programming there are plenty of introductions that provide more learning value, such as Charles Petzold's Programming In The Key of C#.