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Microsoft Visual C# .NET Standard 2003
by Microsoft

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Learn C# and .NET: A guide by Scott C Reynolds, Professional Software Engineer

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C# in a Nutshell
by Peter Drayton, Ben Albahari, Ted Neward

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Editorial Reviews
C# in a Nutshell was inevitable, much like the dawn or your liability for income tax. As the C# language has gathered speed--it's one of the languages that Microsoft encourages you to use for .NET development--its users have anticipated the release of an authoritative reference for the language and its key APIs. That's what this book is: a reference, meant to give you a few chapters on basic structure and syntax before launching into categorized and alphabetized listings of classes and their members. It's sufficiently well written and organized that, given experience with other distributed application environments and some knowledge of .NET, you could learn the language from this book alone. However, this is not a tutorial for people new to Microsoft programming, or new to network computing.

The syntax guide is clear and concise, with brief statements of what operators, data structures, and syntax elements are for. There also are examples (both generic and with illustrative data) in this section. The API reference is organized by namespace (System, System.Collections, System.Reflection, System.Xml, and so on), with each section containing an alphabetical list of members. Each listing includes syntax guides to the element's constructors, methods, and properties, as well as a hierarchy statement and lists of other classes from which instances of the current member is returned and to which it is passed. Don't look for examples in the API reference, but the author's prose statements of what classes are for should help you along the way to a working application. --David Wall

Topics covered: The key System namespaces of the C# programming language and their most important members, covered in API reference format. Sections deal with (among others) System, System.Collections, System.Net, System.Net.Sockets, System.Runtime.Interopservices, and System.Xml. There's also a syntax guide and references to regular expressions and data marshaling in the C# language.

From Book News, Inc.
Intended for experienced programmers, this reference documents 21 of the most important namespaces of the .NET framework class library (FCL) and their 700 plus types. The opening chapters introduce the C# language and the .NET common language runtime, and show how to program the C# language in conjunction with core classes of the FCL to accomplish common tasks. New to the second edition, the CD- ROM contains software for adding the API quick reference to Visual Studio .NET dynamic help....
read more --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description
Designed as a primary reference to be used daily, C# in a Nutshell also includes the essential background information to become productive quickly. Not a "how-to" book or a rehash of Microsoft's documentation, this book goes to the source of the language and APIs to present the content in a way that professional programmers will value above all other books. C# in a Nutshell is a comprehensive language reference and also presents the .NET Framework using C# examples. Additionally, it is an extensive and quick reference to the API, featuring the System namespace. Particularly useful are the many figures and tables that present the main features of the namespace. Every once in a while, a book becomes the de-facto standard for a technology, operating system, or programming language--which is exactly what C# in a Nutshell aims to do in a single straightforward and easy-to-use volume.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:

4 out of 5 stars Would've liked more code samples, December 20, 2002

Reviewer:   Southern California .NET User Group ( - See all my reviews
If you have picked this book to learn C# because you don't have much time, most likely you will find that it's a hard nut to crack. In my view, it's a handy reference book for intermediate C# progrmmers who want to review key features of the C# language, essential programming concepts using the NET framework classes and the details of any of the 700 .NET Framework Classes in 21 important namespaces without using MSDN online libaray. If you often find yourself printing topics from Visual Studio NET Online Help and read them on weekends, then this book is for you.

Section I (chapter 1- 4) summarizes key concepts of the C# language, illustrated with succinct code.

Section II (Chapter 5 to 19) covers programming using the Framework Class Library, such as String, Collections, Streams and I/O, Serialization, Assemblies, Reflection, Custom Attributes, Garbage Collection, Threading and Interop.

I felt that each topic discussion is a little too brief and many important topics mentioned in the overview section of the book are not discussed at all, such as graphics, data access with ADO.NET, Remoting, Window Forms, Web Application, globalization, Configuration.

In section III, some useful .NET Framework SDK tools are covered, which is very helpful.

The last section is detailed listing of the most important core types/classes of the .NET framework. I like the UML diagrams illustrating class hierarchy and relationships.

Personally I would like to see some code samples under important types.

The book is 832 pages thick, I hope the future edition will add the missing topics mentioned above and more code, making it a 1,000 page reference book. -- Reviewed by Timothy D.

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4 out of 5 stars Very good reference text., May 3, 2004

Reviewer:   Arron Walker (Brisbane, Australia) - See all my reviews
This book is not a "teach yourself C#"; it is only a reference text. If you are experienced in another programming language, however, you can use this reference to easily find the syntax required by C#. The book is a quick reference useful for programmers who like to have a paper copy reference on their desktops. By the publisher's own admission, it is not an exhausted reference.

I like having a hard copy reference when I'm programming, so this book suits me fine. There are numerous example code snippets throughout the book to help you learn C#. In addition, the second edition also adds a CD that allows you to incorporate the book's Quick Reference directly into the help files of Visual Studio .NET. This gives you, the programmer, more options when you need help. It is also handy when you have left the book at home.

I'm an intermediate Java programmer who needed to make the conversion to C# for a particular project. "C# in a Nutshell" has assisted me in this aim, and as a result, I would recommend this book to anyone as a useful reference text. --This text refers to the Paperback edition

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Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:

4 out of 5 stars C# in a Nutshell - Supports my day-to-day efforts, December 16, 2003

Reviewer:   Todd Knudsen (South Jordan, UT United States) - See all my reviews
In my opinion O'reilly continually puts out the best technical books and "C# in a Nutshell" further supports their excellent reputation. As usual with O'reilly's other offerings in their "in a Nutshell" series they leave out the fluff and provide just the facts. This approach makes "C# in a Nutshell" easy to recommend if you've already gotten your feet wet in C#. On the other hand if you're still green you're better off with books that offer a traditional tutorial approach and then come back when you're ready to get into some advanced topics or need a reference to the namespaces and C# implementation.

Understanding this book is not a tutorial for the beginner will help acclimate yourself to what to expect. Even though the subtitle reads "A Desktop Reference" ample content exists to introduce beginning topics that lay the ground work for its reference sections.

The first nineteen chapters, approximately two hundred and nineteen pages, cover beginning topics such as .NET Framework and C# basics to advanced subjects including reflection, XML serialization, and threading. The remaining chapters are devoted to a quick reference to classes in the namespaces. Several topics that I'm interested in, including GDI+ were mentioned only briefly and then referred to related namespaces. I'm hoping that GDI+ and other UI related material are covered in more depth in O'reilly's ".NET Windows Forms in a Nutshell" offering or the next edition of "C# in a Nutshell".

Code examples in the book were sufficient to reinforce my understanding of each topic and the `animal tracks' notes were a nice touch and more than mere filler. Other niceties include UML diagrams detailing the namespace structures, DLL / namespace associations, and the C# API Quick Reference encapsulated in a Visual Studio.NET plug-in supplied on the included CD.

"C# in a Nutshell" has already helped me in a VB to C# conversion project. I'm already looking forward to the next edition that may address some of the missing namespaces, otherwise it's a very important tool that supports my day to day efforts. --This text refers to the Paperback edition

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:

5 out of 5 stars Just what I wanted, November 11, 2003

Reviewer:   wiredweird "wiredweird" (USA) - See all my reviews
When I need to learn a language, the last thing I want is a book that tries to teach it to me. Their teaching jut gets in the way of my learning.

This book serves my needs ideally. It is a reference, not a tutorial. It covers the whole language and most or all of the standard API, in a book of modest length. Of course, that sacrifices detail. Fine. When I need information, I'll look here to find out what system facility does my job, then use the system help for details. This book really is the index that the help system lacks.

This goes on the shelf next to Flanagan's "Java in a Nutshell." I have no higher praise for a language book.

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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful:

3 out of 5 stars C# in a Nutshell, April 16, 2003

Reviewer:   David Cunningham (Montreal, QC) - See all my reviews
The Nutshell series published by the O'Reilly group has become so ubiquitous in the IT world that it needs very little introduction. As the preface of C# in a Nutshell states, the aim of the series is to become the desktop reference for whatever technology is covered by each book. In this case, O'Reilly aims to make this book the must-have reference for all C# programmers. This review will focus on the points that any good reference book should address, namely: brevity, completeness, correctness, and usefulness. Unfortunately, my own personal knowledge of C# is restricted to what was discussed in .NET Essentials (another O'Reilly publication), so I won't be able to be as critical of the correctness as I would like. My conclusions are thus based on short tests that I ran to check the validity of the claims made in the book.

C# in a Nutshell scores high marks in both the brevity and correctness categories. Humorous as it might be to label an 830-page book as brief, it actually qualifies as such. The main discussion of the language is kept to the first 270 pages, with an average of about 20 pages devoted to each subject. Only the essentials are discussed, and that will usually be enough when you need to quickly look up how to do something. The remaining 560 pages are devoted to a Quick Reference of the .NET framework classes. While reading the text, I never came across any glaring inconsistencies, such as conflicting descriptions of how to accomplish a task, which leads me to suspect that the text is mostly correct. The few actual tests I ran worked as expected. On a superficial level, I found the content credible.

When it came to completeness, I wasn't as impressed. As a reader, I have somewhat of a personal bias: I'm pretty familiar with both C++ and Java. I also suspect that this knowledge is shared by a large percentage of this book's audience. As a consequence, I found myself wishing that the advanced features particular to this language had been covered more thoroughly, and that the description of features shared by C++, Java, or both, had been trimmed down a bit. I found the sections on Custom Attributes, Serialization and Threading to be especially light, given that they are all core features of the C# language. I also found the two sections dealing with integration of legacy components (DLLs and COM) to be somewhat inadequate for professionals who actually need to deal with these issues. However, I do understand the balancing act that has to be done to keep this book brief. I would have wanted more emphasis on the unique features and considerations associated with this new language, and less on the basics. On the other hand, the authors should be commended for the range of topics they manage to touch on in such a small number of pages. Certain topics, such as Diagnostics and Command-line tools, are fully described and could easily have been forgotten.

My real beef with the completeness of this book is related to the 500+ page SDK Quick Reference. Let's start with the good: The descriptions of the classes and their uses are verbose, and useful. The Quick Reference is logically divided up according to the .NET package divisions, and each description includes a very good UML diagram showing you where each class fits into the grand scheme of things. Now the bad: Though the class interfaces are fully detailed, there is no description whatsoever of the actual method parameters, and how they will be used internally. From a programmer's perspective, this is extremely annoying. Here's an example of what I mean: The class System.Timers.Timer has a property called interval that can be set through the constructor, or through property accessors. Without a proper description, one might imagine that this property relates to the interval at which the Timer does what it does (in this case, throws an Event.) However, we have no idea what units the interval property is using. Do we specify the units in seconds? In milliseconds? In nanoseconds, even? We have no idea, and we can only figure it out by trying it ourselves. You can imagine how frustrating this would be for properties where the answer is not so easily discovered.

The second major issue I have with this book is the unadvertised omission of the System.Windows.Forms and System.Web namespaces in the Quick Reference. It seems as if these GUI-related namespaces have been saved for Programming C#, but I found their omission in this book to be questionable, at the very least. I wouldn't complain if the namespaces were at least described briefly in the Quick Reference, but they aren't even mentioned once. This choice renders the book practically useless on its own for anyone who wishes to add a visual interface to his or her program, which, unless you're writing server code, is nearly everyone. I think that if the goal of this book is for it to be the only desktop reference you'll need, then in this respect it has failed. Similar to the Java in a Nutshell / JFC in a Nutshell combo, you'll probably need both this book and Programming C# for a complete reference from O'Reilly.

All in all, it is hard not to recommend this book for anyone who plans to work with C#. Its description of the language basics is thorough, the advanced features are at least brought up and discussed, and the reference, for all its flaws, will be considered useful by most. In particular, I appreciated the UML diagrams included in the book, placing it one step ahead of the Microsoft documentation. However, the book is somewhat incomplete, and you will most likely want to get Programming C# (convenient, isn't it?) and keep that bookmark to Microsoft's online documentation, at least to look up what the function parameters actually do.

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful:

4 out of 5 stars IT BARED ALL THE PARAMETERS, January 19, 2003

Reviewer:   reviewer (Zurich, Switzerland.) - See all my reviews
This newly introduced "C# in a Nutshell" provides all the basic information most programmers would need on both C# and general .NET programming. It is a textbook that will appeal to both intermediate and advanced users. All parameters which constitute the basics of C# language, Visual Studio .NET, and object-oriented principles were expertly exposed. I was really impressed by its method of handling the Systems.NET, Systems.XML, and Interopservices.
This is one C# book that I would recommend for most intermediate users, (as well as advanced users who need a handy companion). It bared all the C# parameters, although some sections were overtly summarized.

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