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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
If you’re new (or relatively new) to programming -- the audience for this book -- you may not recognize the name Charles Petzold. Suffice to say, he’s a legend amongst Windows programmers, and if you’ve got a chance to learn a Microsoft programming language from him, you ought to jump at it.
Petzold started building his Windows reputation way back in 1985, with the Windows 1.0 SDK beta. He wrote the world’s first magazine article on Windows programming, and then Programming Windows -- simply the definitive work on Windows development. That book is now in its sixth edition.
Through Windows 3.x to 9x, 2000 to XP, and now .NET, Petzold keeps learning better ways to teach Windows programming. Most of his previous books have assumed some basic familiarity with software development. This one, however, is for beginners and near beginners. If you’d like to start your career with a truly modern language, Programming in the Key of C# is your Petzold book.
Petzold wants you to gain a really deep understanding of the language, so he strips away everything extraneous to that goal. This isn’t a book about fancy Windows Forms user interfaces, or web services, or database integration, or Visual Studio .NET. It’s a book about learning to write C# really well -- and, in so doing, understanding the ideas behind modern programming.
To stress the point, Petzold’s examples are actually intended to run in the Windows console, a.k.a. Command Prompt window. (Fret not: everything he teaches you at the console will be invaluable when you write other C# Windows and web programs. Meantime, you needn’t own VS.NET to learn what Petzold’s teaching.)
He starts with a little history and context -- of programming, and of “C-based” languages. You’ll enter the language through simple math, then learn how to declare variables. Even at this level, Petzold is talking about concision and clarity.
You’ll walk through editing, compiling, and running your program, then communicating with the user -- “a shadowy being who lurks just beyond the periphery of your vision...needy, confused, angry, and malicious.”
Next, it’s on to the language’s basic types. You’ll learn how the .NET framework and C# handle integers; how to use text strings, and the all-important stack and heap. There are full chapters on constants, decimals, floating point math, methods and fields, arrays, Booleans, and characters. Part III turns to the stuff that makes computers at least look intelligent: conditions and iteration. Petzold introduces the While Loop, For and Foreach, exceptions, and much more.
By now, you have the “procedural” side of C# nailed. But C# is an object-oriented language, and that’s where Petzold spends the remainder of his time. He carefully introduces data encapsulation, constructors, inheritance, virtuality, operator overloading -- pretty much all the core concepts of object-oriented development.
This literate, amusing, careful book never loses sight of its goals -- or yours. But after all, that’s what millions of programmers have come to expect from Charles Petzold. Bill Camarda
Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks for Dummies, Second Edition.