Author: Andrew Stellman and Jennifer Greene
Aimed at: Novice c# developers
Pros: A highly interactive approach for the complete beginner
Cons: The format results in a hefty tome
Reviewed by: Mike James
O’Reilly’s Head First series has a distinctive format – a cross between a notebook and a joke book – that you will love or hate. The mix of conversational style, lots of graphics, copious annotations and quiz elements seems to suit C# rather better than other topics but you should only buy it if you are prepared to work through the book rather than read it – as is pointed out in the pre-amble the activities are not optional.
As long as you like the book’s style, beginners will find it motivational. As author’s Andrew Stellman and Jennifer Greene point out the advent of C# 3.0 plus its availability in the free Visual Studio 2008 Express Edition make this a really good time to get to grips with C# and this book shows how the Visual Studio IDE makes it quick and easy to get started and only later on tackles object-oriented concepts.
The three hands-on labs in the book are all games – and if you are pleased with your efforts you can show them off on the book’s own website, from where you can also download the games’ executables if you need extra help and support. The book covers the newest C# feature for querying data in .NET collections, LINQ, and puts it to work in the final lab – Space Invaders – to make collision detection easier. This project also makes good use of timers, another of the book’s more advanced topics.
On the whole, however, this isn’t an advanced treatment and even when it tackles sophisticated ideas – encapsulation and polymorphism for example – it treats them in its informal, even glib, manner. If you get to the end of the book, which given it is more than 700 pages is quite a challenge, you are likely to want at least one more book about C# but at that point you’ll be ready for something with a more staid and stolid, and abbreviated, approach.