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Murach's C# 2010
Author(s): Joel Murach
Published: 2010, ISBN 978-1-890774-59-2, 812 pages
Publisher (more . . .):   Murach




 Five out of Five Stars
  Reviewed: April, 2011
  Reviewer: Chris Wallace
       I have always been a fan of Murach books and this one did not disappoint – go ahead, get this book right now.

     This book should include a sub-title (so prevalent in today’s books) indicating that it is more than a C# code book. It is quite a bit more. This is important since the target audience may be comparing this title with a whole host of C# books. To stand out it needs to grab the buyer’s attention. Something like this may work: “Getting you up to speed with what you need now to build applications.” This book is all that and a bag of chips. We have here a quite comprehensive book taking you from beginner to a complete developer with a great foundation upon which to build applications.

     There are differentiators as compared to some other C# books; this book teaches you the other topics you need to use with C# to be a complete application developer. This includes an introduction to Visual Studio which is so very important right at the start. You will be exposed to the Visual Studio IDE with its keys to better productivity. Also included are various parts of the ever growing .Net Framework. There is great introduction to OOP.

     I am glad that the author included database information as it pertains to building read-world applications. I am especially glad that they included how to use LINQ. This is just enough to get you going down the right path. An introductory book like this one needs to keep current with the skills needed by professional developers and this book does just that.

     The reader can dive right into this book without being overwhelmed. Start with a couple of chapters at the beginning to get your feet wet and find your place, then take off in the direction you desire or work it straight through. The structure of the separate exercises assists here, too. This also supports you somewhat after you have completed the book and are using it as a reference.

     You will see two words repeated throughout the book: “How to…” That’s what the author is helping you with, how to do x. With both narratives and bullet point lists and code examples to help you do x, you will be working your way with ease through how to do x.

     As with all of Murach’s books, this one uses their paired page format. Here a narrative on the left of each pair of pages is coupled with the corresponding code example for you to easily follow on the right. Is this trademarked by Murach? It works so well, that I wonder why other publishers don’t do it. Writing this way is more difficult than you might at first think. The writer needs to be judicious with their words and thoughts while crafting the topic being taught in bite size segments. At the same time the words need to be paired with the code on the right side. The reader gets this advantage without even thinking about or realizing it. This makes it easy to use each paired page set as a reference later on for that material. I might suggest that at the bottom of each narrative page, additional references to other pages be included where similar thoughts/topics are presented. A larger than usual page size, paper quality, and type face is easy to read as you bounce from the written word to your execution of the exercises. An ebook is also available.

     The content is presented in an all-business tone; however, it never becomes dry and always remembers that the reader is paramount in the author’s mind (unlike some authors who seem to want to impress you with their knowledge or their ability to tell a joke). The author is not condescending, but instead writes from a position where the reader is likely to be.

     Speakers know one set of rules about speaking: tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, and finally tell them what you told them. Murach does this well with the printed word and it works.

     The end of each chapter provides a “Perspective” – a slight variation to the more familiar “Summary” found in most books. It not only summarizes the content but adds where the reader should be at this stage of learning. It’s understated, but it reminds the reader that the author is presenting the topic with the reader in mind, not just the topic in mind.

     The exercises are so clear that anyone should be able to follow them step by step. In fact, on occasion, I think they may be a bit tedious in those steps, but that is easily forgiven allowing one to vary one’s pace as desired.

     The book’s index is superior to other books in its depth – again, good for reference use, the best you will find.

     Don’t go looking for a lot of errors to correct problems in the book, you will find that part of their web site empty (at least as of this review) – these people really know how to edit and correct before publishing (what a concept). Aren’t you tired of reading a long list of errata or worse yet, reading along in the text only to find simple grammar and spelling errors? These are not to be found here (thank them for that). This is a basic respect for not only their product, but for their reader.

     As great as this book is, I wished it did not concentrate on Windows Forms applications to the exclusion of web based applications. This is a personal choice of mine, but I would replace the WinForms portions with WebForms, only because of the predominance of web applications today. It’s about time to either replace or add a bit of the web to beginning books like this one. WinForms are well introduced here and this is just a pet peeve of mine, so no negative implication should be drawn from my desire to show the web. The publisher does produce other titles which teach the web, so you’ll want to buy those too.

     This publisher produces excellent products; I only wish they would take their skills and formatting to build a few more books each year, especially on advanced topics.

     I highly recommend this book, you won’t be disappointed.

Chris Wallace is a consultant, speaker, and leader in Microsoft technologies, emphasizing Visual Studio, C#, and all the cool business proficient ways to use technology. With extensive experience in the US and Europe, his goal is to deliver complete solutions to meet real world business needs while exploring the tech edge. “If you aren’t living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space!” He has a Masters in Computer Information Systems. Chris is the founder and has been the Denver Visual Studio User Group Leader since March 1996. He is proud to be a Microsoft MVP in Visual C#, having been awarded that honor for the past eight years.
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