joefrench writes: "It might seem strange to review a C# book on Slashdot, especially one published by Microsoft, but I felt that there must be a lot of readers like me -- programmers who know Java, but want/need to learn something about C# and .NET. C# for Java Developers aims to teach experienced Java programmers how to write in C#." Joe outlines what he considers the book's good points (many) and weak points (few) in the rest of his review, below.
First things firstFirst of all, let's deal with the Microsoft issue. I was surprised to find that this book even existed given the problems MS has had in the courts recently. I was even more surprised to find that C# for Java Developers is very balanced and does not hype up C# at the expense of Java -- throughout the book there are places where the authors say that "Java is better at this" or "We have no idea what the C# designers were thinking." A refreshing attitude from a company that is not known to be an admirer of Java.
I was reluctant to pay for a Microsoft book, but I have to admit that I am impressed. This is the first MS book I have ever purchased, and it is clearly written, well thought-out and very, very comprehensive. One of the best features for me is that all of the instructions for compiling and managing code assume that you are using the command-line tools, rather than Visual Studio. For someone on a tight budget, this was a real bonus.
The first part of the book is an overview of .NET, and contains the boiler-plate description that you get from the .NET web site. Not that useful, but pretty short. There is a chapter that compares .NET to Java (J2SE and J2EE), but again, there is nothing new or important there.
The second part of the book covers the C# language, using Java as a starting point. The coverage seems comprehensive, and explains where the two languages are the same (quite often), where they are different (now and then) and when they appear to be the same, but you are likely to spend a couple of hours tracking down something weird (more often than I would like). I had started playing around with C# before buying this book, and all of the problems that I had in the early days were detailed here with clear explanations.
Part three delves into the .NET class library, covering basic topics such as collections, IO and handling XML. Once again, I was impressed with the depth of coverage and the way in which the authors use Java classes to explain the workings of .NET. It was while I was reading through this section that I realized just how different C#/.NET and Java can be.
The last part of the book covers "advanced" topics. There seems to be little reason for the division between basic and advanced topics, but chapters cover areas such as threading, security and networking. The one thing that is consistent in this part of the book is that there is less of a parallel between Java and C#. For example, "Windows Forms" is used to build client UI applications, but is very different toolkit from Swing/AWT.
The appendix list is a little dull, covering topics like GC and configuration files. There are some interesting snippets, but I got the impression that these were topics that the authors thought were important, but didn't know where else they should go. The exception is the "Java to .NET API Reference" which, for me at least, sets this book apart from the competition. Every class from the J2SE class library is mapped to an equivalent .NET class and a reference to where the topic is covered in the book -- having something like this has saved me hours of searching.
What's to Consider?
This book uses a lot of C# fragments to demonstrate how classes are used, but contains very few full "working" examples. I found this to be great once I knew the basics of C# (because I could focus on the topic), but difficult at first (because I could not play with complete code).
C# for Java Developers covers much more of the .NET Framework than the other books in my local bookstore, but because of this the text can be dense at times, as the authors try and pack in a bit too much detail.
I can't find major fault with this book, and a (small) part of me admires Microsoft for publishing such an unbiased book.
If you are a Java programmer who wants or needs to learn about C# and .NET, then this is a great book. Don't be put off by the Microsoft logo, and bear in mind that you don't need a copy of Visual Studio to follow the examples.
The book effectively uses Java as a tool to teach C# and explain the workings of .NET. If you are like me, then you will find this book invaluable and will likely keep it close at hand for quick reference.
Table of Contents
- Introducing .NET
- Introduction to Microsoft .NET
- Comparing Java and .NET Technologies
- The C# Language
- Creating Assemblies
- Language and Syntax Features
- Data Types
- Advanced Language Features
- Programming .NET with C#
- Strings and Regular Expressions
- Numbers and Dates
- Streams, Files, and I/O
- XML Processing
- Advanced Topics
- Threading and Synchronization
- Database Connectivity
- Security and Cryptography
- Graphics and UI
- Introduction to XML Web Services
- Platform Integration
- Shared Assemblies
- Configuring Applications
- Garbage Collection
- Cross-Language Code Interoperability
- Java to .NET API Reference
You can purchase C# for Java Developers from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.