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What makes a good C# book?

P: n/a
I'm looking to write a C# book fairly soon, and the publisher I've
approached wants me to do a bit of market research to find out what
people like and don't like in this kind of book.

I've read loads of reviews of best-selling books on Amazon, so I've got
some ideas from there, but I'd be very interested in hearing what you
all think makes a good C# book.

I'm interested primarily in stylistic things - how light-hearted, what
kind of code samples and how many, etc. Content suggestions are also
welcome, although I've a pretty good idea of what I want to do on that
front.

Anyway, all suggestions very welcome - either here or by mail. Thanks!

--
Jon Skeet - <sk***@pobox.com>
http://www.pobox.com/~skeet Blog: http://www.msmvps.com/jon.skeet
If replying to the group, please do not mail me too
Mar 19 '07 #1
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22 Replies


P: n/a
Jon Skeet [C# MVP] schrieb:
I've read loads of reviews of best-selling books on Amazon, so I've got
some ideas from there, but I'd be very interested in hearing what you
all think makes a good C# book.

I'm interested primarily in stylistic things - how light-hearted, what
kind of code samples and how many, etc. Content suggestions are also
welcome, although I've a pretty good idea of what I want to do on that
front.
I for myself would be very happy reading code samples which are designed for
multithreaded applications. Many books have nice code samples, but less of these
have more than 10 samples for multithreaded apps.

Multithreading is the technology that will become more and more important in
future, also it is a technology where many and even big mistakes can be made. So
it's very important to know these techs in detail. And I feel not as well
trained as possible at these topics
Mar 19 '07 #2

P: n/a
Jon Skeet [C# MVP] wrote:
I'm looking to write a C# book fairly soon, and the publisher I've
approached wants me to do a bit of market research to find out what
people like and don't like in this kind of book.

I've read loads of reviews of best-selling books on Amazon, so I've got
some ideas from there, but I'd be very interested in hearing what you
all think makes a good C# book.

I'm interested primarily in stylistic things - how light-hearted, what
kind of code samples and how many, etc. Content suggestions are also
welcome, although I've a pretty good idea of what I want to do on that
front.
What makes a programming language book good depends on the
purpose of the book.

Examples:
1) introduction books for beginners explaining basic syntax etc.
2) specialized books covering a small topic in depth at an
intermediate to high level
3) a personal opinion about how the language and its usage should
evolve directed at the most experienced programmers

You do not write a good book the same way for those 3 categories.

If you could give an indication of the type of book you want to write,
then you may get more qualified response.

Arne
Mar 19 '07 #3

P: n/a
On Mar 19, 3:54 pm, Arne Vajhøj <a...@vajhoej.dkwrote:
Jon Skeet [C# MVP] wrote:
I'm looking to write a C# book fairly soon, and the publisher I've
approached wants me to do a bit of market research to find out what
people like and don't like in this kind of book.
I've read loads of reviews of best-selling books on Amazon, so I've got
some ideas from there, but I'd be very interested in hearing what you
all think makes a good C# book.
I'm interested primarily in stylistic things - how light-hearted, what
kind of code samples and how many, etc. Content suggestions are also
welcome, although I've a pretty good idea of what I want to do on that
front.

What makes a programming language book good depends on the
purpose of the book.

Examples:
1) introduction books for beginners explaining basic syntax etc.
2) specialized books covering a small topic in depth at an
intermediate to high level
3) a personal opinion about how the language and its usage should
evolve directed at the most experienced programmers

You do not write a good book the same way for those 3 categories.

If you could give an indication of the type of book you want to write,
then you may get more qualified response.

Arne
Reference book is another primary category of programming book,
independent of the ones you name, imo.

Mar 19 '07 #4

P: n/a
On Mar 19, 2:59 pm, Jon Skeet [C# MVP] <s...@pobox.comwrote:
I'm looking to write a C# book fairly soon, and the publisher I've
approached wants me to do a bit of market research to find out what
people like and don't like in this kind of book.
Anyway, all suggestions very welcome - either here or by mail. Thanks!
I don't know if this is what you're looking for, but a group of
related things I like are:

a) Lots of common-task examples - a sine qua non.

b) A clear here's-what-this-is-an-example-of title/intro to the
example

c) A few words about common variations on the examples. For example:
if you're talking about database inserts and what-not, say something
about insert-if-no-record-and-update-if-record.

d) Relevant examples. It's infuriating to see an example followed by
"of course, you would never do this in the real-world...". Cross-
reference, if necessary (say, between reader.Close() and try-catch-
finally).

That's my $.02.

cdj

Mar 19 '07 #5

P: n/a
Jon,
you don't need any advice my friend. Just start writing and be your pedantic
self as you are in your tutorials and other "stuff" and I'll buy it in a New
York minute. I suspect that many others will agree.
Peter

--
Site: http://www.eggheadcafe.com
UnBlog: http://petesbloggerama.blogspot.com
Short urls & more: http://ittyurl.net


"Jon Skeet [C# MVP]" wrote:
I'm looking to write a C# book fairly soon, and the publisher I've
approached wants me to do a bit of market research to find out what
people like and don't like in this kind of book.

I've read loads of reviews of best-selling books on Amazon, so I've got
some ideas from there, but I'd be very interested in hearing what you
all think makes a good C# book.

I'm interested primarily in stylistic things - how light-hearted, what
kind of code samples and how many, etc. Content suggestions are also
welcome, although I've a pretty good idea of what I want to do on that
front.

Anyway, all suggestions very welcome - either here or by mail. Thanks!

--
Jon Skeet - <sk***@pobox.com>
http://www.pobox.com/~skeet Blog: http://www.msmvps.com/jon.skeet
If replying to the group, please do not mail me too
Mar 20 '07 #6

P: n/a
"Jon Skeet [C# MVP]" <sk***@pobox.comwrote:
I'd be very interested in hearing what you all think
makes a good C# book.
I find I tend to like technical books that are written in the first person.
It helps keep them a bit less dry.

I find I tend to skip large sections of chapters (especially if they're
basic), but then read the "Tip!" or "Opposing View" sections that are
scattered throughout - many of Richter's books have this, as do other books
that I read.

A snappy title & cover picture are good. I'm not talking swimsuit models or
anything, but a book that looks & sounds cheap won't even get picked up
unless it's on a very focused topic and there are no other options.

I like books that are printed in full color. I understand this is a
publisher thing that you probably don't have any control over, but I do like
it.

Name recognition of the author is nice. I suggest changing your name to
"Richter Box Duffy Oney" just before publication...

--
Chris Mullins, MCSD.NET, MCPD:Enterprise, Microsoft C# MVP
http://www.coversant.com/blogs/cmullins
Mar 20 '07 #7

P: n/a
On 19 Mar, 21:59, Jon Skeet [C# MVP] <s...@pobox.comwrote:
I'm looking to write a C# book fairly soon, and the publisher I've
approached wants me to do a bit of market research to find out what
people like and don't like in this kind of book.

I've read loads of reviews of best-selling books on Amazon, so I've got
some ideas from there, but I'd be very interested in hearing what you
all think makes a good C# book.

I'm interested primarily in stylistic things - how light-hearted, what
kind of code samples and how many, etc. Content suggestions are also
welcome, although I've a pretty good idea of what I want to do on that
front.

Anyway, all suggestions very welcome - either here or by mail. Thanks!

--
Jon Skeet - <s...@pobox.com>http://www.pobox.com/~skeet Blog:http://www.msmvps.com/jon.skeet
If replying to the group, please do not mail me too
One of the comments below is spot on, who are you targetting? What do
you want to write? I'm a big fan of your blog, so if you can turn that
into a book I'd have my preorder on Amazon in minutes :)
I'd like to see a practical book, I've got enough theory in my
library, I want sensible useful useable stuff. In what area I can't
say. Programming got a lot bigger since I was a kid :/ There's not a
lot of good pattern books, I've got a few, but they're a bit clinical.
Practical patterns would be nice.Did a quick Google, Practical
patterns seems free, unless you want trout or sewing patterns :)
I'd also kill for a good c# to Java book. One may exist, but I'll be
damned if I can find it! I can manage the symantics, but I'm baffled
by the libraries.
Mar 20 '07 #8

P: n/a
Arne Vajhøj <ar**@vajhoej.dkwrote:
What makes a programming language book good depends on the
purpose of the book.

Examples:
1) introduction books for beginners explaining basic syntax etc.
2) specialized books covering a small topic in depth at an
intermediate to high level
3) a personal opinion about how the language and its usage should
evolve directed at the most experienced programmers

You do not write a good book the same way for those 3 categories.

If you could give an indication of the type of book you want to write,
then you may get more qualified response.
In this case the target audience would be developers who are reasonably
experienced with C# 1 and are migrating to .NET 2 with an eye to the
future. It certainly *wouldn't* be aimed at beginners, but nor would it
be an "experts only" job.

(And yes, that probably gives away about of the content than I should,
but there we go :)

--
Jon Skeet - <sk***@pobox.com>
http://www.pobox.com/~skeet Blog: http://www.msmvps.com/jon.skeet
If replying to the group, please do not mail me too
Mar 20 '07 #9

P: n/a
Jon Skeet [C# MVP] wrote:
I'm looking to write a C# book fairly soon, and the publisher I've
approached wants me to do a bit of market research to find out what
people like and don't like in this kind of book.
Short, succinct examples of code. I really dislike when a book (or
tutorial) spouts reams of code for the sake of it. So, keep the code in
your examples down to the minimum required to perform the job, but
likewise give plenty of them!

I also find it useful, if verbose examples are used, when relevant
sections of code are highlighted in a way that makes me (the reader)
understand that the point of the example code is to showcase the
highlighted lines.

--
Dylan Parry
http://electricfreedom.org | http://webpageworkshop.co.uk

The opinions stated above are not necessarily representative of
those of my cats. All opinions expressed are entirely your own.
Mar 20 '07 #10

P: n/a
My preferred books are those that I can use and apply (not literally).
With that I mean content that can really be applied to your work (aka.
nothing like a chapters of how to: draw circle, draw rectangles, change
viewport. Cool.).
Everyone can benefit from experience (real one), pitfalls, differen
algorithms and insights.
And usually I don't buy a theory without a little bit of deeper explanation
of why it good to do it in that way. Many books I have state "this is the
way to do it". Period. Compare the solution with other ideas is a good way
to demonstrate the point.
Sometimes it is good to put FAQ at the end of chapter to rule out common
questions about the subject.

"Jon Skeet [C# MVP]" <sk***@pobox.comha scritto nel messaggio
news:MP************************@msnews.microsoft.c om...
I'm looking to write a C# book fairly soon, and the publisher I've
approached wants me to do a bit of market research to find out what
people like and don't like in this kind of book.

I've read loads of reviews of best-selling books on Amazon, so I've got
some ideas from there, but I'd be very interested in hearing what you
all think makes a good C# book.

I'm interested primarily in stylistic things - how light-hearted, what
kind of code samples and how many, etc. Content suggestions are also
welcome, although I've a pretty good idea of what I want to do on that
front.

Anyway, all suggestions very welcome - either here or by mail. Thanks!

--
Jon Skeet - <sk***@pobox.com>
http://www.pobox.com/~skeet Blog: http://www.msmvps.com/jon.skeet
If replying to the group, please do not mail me too

Mar 20 '07 #11

P: n/a
Have you made up the title already?

"Jon Skeet [C# MVP]" <sk***@pobox.comha scritto nel messaggio
news:MP************************@msnews.microsoft.c om...
I'm looking to write a C# book fairly soon, and the publisher I've
approached wants me to do a bit of market research to find out what
people like and don't like in this kind of book.

I've read loads of reviews of best-selling books on Amazon, so I've got
some ideas from there, but I'd be very interested in hearing what you
all think makes a good C# book.

I'm interested primarily in stylistic things - how light-hearted, what
kind of code samples and how many, etc. Content suggestions are also
welcome, although I've a pretty good idea of what I want to do on that
front.

Anyway, all suggestions very welcome - either here or by mail. Thanks!

--
Jon Skeet - <sk***@pobox.com>
http://www.pobox.com/~skeet Blog: http://www.msmvps.com/jon.skeet
If replying to the group, please do not mail me too

Mar 20 '07 #12

P: n/a
"Jon Skeet [C# MVP]" <sk***@pobox.comwrote in message
news:MP************************@msnews.microsoft.c om...
I'm looking to write a C# book fairly soon, and the publisher I've
approached wants me to do a bit of market research to find out what
people like and don't like in this kind of book.

I've read loads of reviews of best-selling books on Amazon, so I've got
some ideas from there, but I'd be very interested in hearing what you
all think makes a good C# book.

I'm interested primarily in stylistic things - how light-hearted, what
kind of code samples and how many, etc. Content suggestions are also
welcome, although I've a pretty good idea of what I want to do on that
front.

Anyway, all suggestions very welcome - either here or by mail. Thanks!
The best programming book that I've ever read is "Effective C++" by Scott
Meyers. It's targeted at programmers that already know C++, it doesn't
explain syntax or class libraries, it tries to tell you things that it
normally takes years of experiance to learn.

I hope you write a C# book like that. I would buy it.

Mar 20 '07 #13

P: n/a
On Mar 20, 3:55 pm, "Laura T." <L...@NOWHERE.COMwrote:
Have you made up the title already?
No - and it'll be tricky. If I get permission to leak a bit more about
the contents of the book, I'll certainly ask for title suggestions :)

Jon
Mar 20 '07 #14

P: n/a
"John Vottero" <JV******@mvpsi.comwrote in message
news:Ok**************@TK2MSFTNGP03.phx.gbl...
"Jon Skeet [C# MVP]" <sk***@pobox.comwrote in message
news:MP************************@msnews.microsoft.c om...
>I'm looking to write a C# book fairly soon, and the publisher I've
approached wants me to do a bit of market research to find out what
people like and don't like in this kind of book.

I've read loads of reviews of best-selling books on Amazon, so I've got
some ideas from there, but I'd be very interested in hearing what you
all think makes a good C# book.

I'm interested primarily in stylistic things - how light-hearted, what
kind of code samples and how many, etc. Content suggestions are also
welcome, although I've a pretty good idea of what I want to do on that
front.

Anyway, all suggestions very welcome - either here or by mail. Thanks!

The best programming book that I've ever read is "Effective C++" by Scott
Meyers. It's targeted at programmers that already know C++, it doesn't
explain syntax or class libraries, it tries to tell you things that it
normally takes years of experiance to learn.

I hope you write a C# book like that. I would buy it.
This got me wondering if anyone had already done this so I googled
"Effective C#" and found "Effective C#" by Bill Wagner.
Mar 20 '07 #15

P: n/a
On Mar 19, 1:59 pm, Jon Skeet [C# MVP] <s...@pobox.comwrote:
I'm looking to write a C# book fairly soon, and the publisher I've
approached wants me to do a bit of market research to find out what
people like and don't like in this kind of book.

I've read loads of reviews of best-selling books on Amazon, so I've got
some ideas from there, but I'd be very interested in hearing what you
all think makes a good C# book.

I'm interested primarily in stylistic things - how light-hearted, what
kind of code samples and how many, etc. Content suggestions are also
welcome, although I've a pretty good idea of what I want to do on that
front.
One of my favorite software writers is Joel Spolsky (http://
www.joelonsoftware.com). This article (http://www.joelonsoftware.com/
articles/fog0000000319.html) is a great example of his work. In it,
Joel goes into a good deal of depth on C string library functions.
Potentially dull topic, but Joel does a great job bringing it to
life. It's not the easiest thing to deconstruct good writing, but I
notice a few things:

1. starting off with a story ("Shlemiel the painter", in this case)
2. casual, conversational tone
3. tying all the pieces together (what impact low-level string
traversal has on the speed of a RDBMS, and how XML will never compare)

It's so easy to write dry, disconnected pieces of prose. Instead,
pretend you're writing for the Economist (you're a Brit, right?) and
you've got to draw connections, tell a story, and express an opinion
(in 20 column-inches...).

Michael

Mar 20 '07 #16

P: n/a
On Mon, 19 Mar 2007 21:59:16 -0000, Jon Skeet [C# MVP]
<sk***@pobox.comwrote:
>I'm looking to write a C# book fairly soon, and the publisher I've
approached wants me to do a bit of market research to find out what
people like and don't like in this kind of book.

I've read loads of reviews of best-selling books on Amazon, so I've got
some ideas from there, but I'd be very interested in hearing what you
all think makes a good C# book.

I'm interested primarily in stylistic things - how light-hearted, what
kind of code samples and how many, etc. Content suggestions are also
welcome, although I've a pretty good idea of what I want to do on that
front.

Anyway, all suggestions very welcome - either here or by mail. Thanks!
As others have stated there are a lot of possibilities for depth and
breadth of content and style. Regardless of topic when I look for a
programming text WROX is the publisher of choice. I cannot quantify
the why part beyond the usual disclaimers.

regards
A.G.
Mar 20 '07 #17

P: n/a
Bob
Hi Jon,
Index, index,index
Well that's my opinion.
Assuming the content is relevant then a comprehensive index is the next
greatest asset.
regards
Bob
"Jon Skeet [C# MVP]" <sk***@pobox.comwrote in message
news:MP************************@msnews.microsoft.c om...
I'm looking to write a C# book fairly soon, and the publisher I've
approached wants me to do a bit of market research to find out what
people like and don't like in this kind of book.

I've read loads of reviews of best-selling books on Amazon, so I've got
some ideas from there, but I'd be very interested in hearing what you
all think makes a good C# book.

I'm interested primarily in stylistic things - how light-hearted, what
kind of code samples and how many, etc. Content suggestions are also
welcome, although I've a pretty good idea of what I want to do on that
front.

Anyway, all suggestions very welcome - either here or by mail. Thanks!

--
Jon Skeet - <sk***@pobox.com>
http://www.pobox.com/~skeet Blog: http://www.msmvps.com/jon.skeet
If replying to the group, please do not mail me too

Mar 20 '07 #18

P: n/a
Jon Skeet wrote:
I'm interested primarily in stylistic things - how light-hearted, what
kind of code samples and how many, etc. Content suggestions are also
welcome, although I've a pretty good idea of what I want to do on that
front.
If it's relating to relatively experienced programmers moving to .NET 2,
I'd be sure to include some of the more interesting stylistic things you
can do with anonymous delegates. They're not immediately obvious to
programmers more versed in imperative / OO-lite programming.

For example, anonymous delegates combined with .NET asynchronous pattern
(the Begin/End pattern, not the brain-dead event-based one), permits
relatively straightforward asynchronous coding using continuation
passing style - by passing an anonymous delegate ("continuation") as the
value of the AsyncCallback.

For more inspiration for what asynchronous delegates can do, check out
what Ruby does with its block arguments, which are directly analogous to
anonymous delegates.

I don't know how deep into the .NET framework itself you want to go, but
there are interesting things you can do with DynamicMethod too. For
example, I've coded up a visitor generator which creates DynamicMethod
dispatchers to speed up a reflection-based visitor pattern. Looks very
roughly like this:

class MyVisitor
{
MyVisitor()
{
_visitDelegate = CreateVisitor(this);
}

[VisitorMethod]
private void VisitFoo(Foo f) { }
}

.... and then calling _visitDelegate(someInstanceMaybeFoo) will route
through to VisitFoo if someInstanceMaybeFoo is in fact derived from Foo.
Helps avoid having to trawl through all the Foo &c. adding
double-dispatch callback to the visitor method, and avoids having to
make any visitor methods externally visible (whether via interface or
public).

-- Barry

--
http://barrkel.blogspot.com/
Mar 20 '07 #19

P: n/a
Jon Skeet [C# MVP] wrote:
Arne Vajhøj <ar**@vajhoej.dkwrote:
>What makes a programming language book good depends on the
purpose of the book.
....
>If you could give an indication of the type of book you want to write,
then you may get more qualified response.

In this case the target audience would be developers who are reasonably
experienced with C# 1 and are migrating to .NET 2 with an eye to the
future. It certainly *wouldn't* be aimed at beginners, but nor would it
be an "experts only" job.
1) If it is not for beginners, then make sure that you do
not have beginner stuff. 40 pages of beginner stuff in
the beginning irritates the non-beginners and does not
really help the beginners.

2) 15-30 chapters about very specific topics. Strictly technical.
No advocacy this or that.

3) Use UML, pseudo code and small C# code snippets of max. one
page. Full code belongs on the accompanying CD.

4) Do not let the book be dependent on Visual Studio unless
Visual Studio is the actual topic. Non-beginners should have
no problem focusing on the real issues and not the menus in VS.

5) Avoid the test questions at the end og each chapter. Your
audience can read, try and reread as necessary.

6) Often it is a good idea to work with the same example context through
multiple chapters, because then you can skip some explanations
the second, third etc. time an example context is used.

7) And when it is written make sure that the post processing of your
work is good also:
- the font is readable
- diagrams and screen shots are readable
- the index is good

Arne
Mar 21 '07 #20

P: n/a
On Mon, 19 Mar 2007 21:59:16 -0000, Jon Skeet [C# MVP]
<sk***@pobox.comwrote:
>I'm looking to write a C# book fairly soon, and the publisher I've
approached wants me to do a bit of market research to find out what
people like and don't like in this kind of book.

I've read loads of reviews of best-selling books on Amazon, so I've got
some ideas from there, but I'd be very interested in hearing what you
all think makes a good C# book.
Free gold bar/crate of beer/lap dance/trip to Bermuda with every book.

If you can't manage that, a copy in electronic form (searchable PDF)
is vital, because I can carry that with me on my USB drive wherever I
go.

Interesting and diverse examples/exercises. Please don't do a "lets
create a SalesOrder/OrderLines class" or I will be forced to go
postal!


--
Philip Daniels
Mar 21 '07 #21

P: n/a
Jon Skeet [C# MVP] wrote:
I'm looking to write a C# book fairly soon, and the publisher I've
approached wants me to do a bit of market research to find out what
people like and don't like in this kind of book.

I've read loads of reviews of best-selling books on Amazon, so I've got
some ideas from there, but I'd be very interested in hearing what you
all think makes a good C# book.

I'm interested primarily in stylistic things - how light-hearted, what
kind of code samples and how many, etc. Content suggestions are also
welcome, although I've a pretty good idea of what I want to do on that
front.

Anyway, all suggestions very welcome - either here or by mail. Thanks!
Real world examples (or lack thereof) is what annoys me about most books.
It's all well and good to explain how to do something but if there is no
explanation of where it would be useful or an explanation that I
cannot relate to it makes it a lot harder to take in.
An "story" such as, "I was facing this problem and this is how I solved
it" I find suits me well.
Light hearted with lots of amusing stories is always good in this sort
of reading.
Without knowing the planned content I cannot guess how many examples but
I like to see runnable example programs encompassing the printed code
available on the web or CD.

I'll look forward to seeing it :)

JB
Mar 21 '07 #22

P: n/a

I read Tim Patrick's Start-to-Finish VB2005 book, and it was very humorous,
and kept me reading. But that's a really difficult way to write, I think.

My biggest gripe with books is they tell you HOW, but they don't tell you
WHY. They show HOW to use reflection, but don't tell you in what cases you
might want to. They explain how to create a bunch of DLL's and use them in
a project, but not WHY. They show how to use delegates, but not why you'd
want to. Drives me nuts.

But then, people post questions here about something they're trying to do,
and I don't understand why they're trying to do that. So maybe it's me.

I would buy a book by you in a heartbeat. If you need a (free) tech
reviewer, or just someone to read it through, let me know. It wouldn't be
my first...

Robin S.
-----------------------------------------
"Jon Skeet [C# MVP]" <sk***@pobox.comwrote in message
news:MP************************@msnews.microsoft.c om...
I'm looking to write a C# book fairly soon, and the publisher I've
approached wants me to do a bit of market research to find out what
people like and don't like in this kind of book.

I've read loads of reviews of best-selling books on Amazon, so I've got
some ideas from there, but I'd be very interested in hearing what you
all think makes a good C# book.

I'm interested primarily in stylistic things - how light-hearted, what
kind of code samples and how many, etc. Content suggestions are also
welcome, although I've a pretty good idea of what I want to do on that
front.

Anyway, all suggestions very welcome - either here or by mail. Thanks!

--
Jon Skeet - <sk***@pobox.com>
http://www.pobox.com/~skeet Blog: http://www.msmvps.com/jon.skeet
If replying to the group, please do not mail me too

Mar 23 '07 #23

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