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C# 5.0 Unleashed demonstrates exactly why I love the SAMS (Pearson Education) Unleashed series so much! This series has nearly always presented texts that provide an exhaustive and comprehensive nuance of every facet of a given technology topic. In that context, C# 5.0 Unleashed excels beyond all of my expectations. Not only did the author demonstrate an uncanny grasp of the entire .NET platform, but it was clear from the start that he understands the challenges professional C# developers face every day in the corporate enterprise.
It seems appropriate to point out that whether you are new to C#, coming from another language, or a professional .NET developer (as I am), that this is inarguably the only book you'll need to program C# applications for the desktop, web and mobile platforms. While it's hefty (weighing in at 1700+ pages), the publisher provides an access code to download the book in a variety of the most popular e-book formats (including PDF, .MOBI and .EPUB) through a simple registration process at InformIT.com. That's a definite plus when dealing with a book of this size. Moreover, the e-book I downloaded--at least the PDF version--had color screenshots (compared to the B&W photos in the printed version). A nice surprise, indeed!
As to content, Mr. De Smet smartly starts off explaining the history of the .NET platform and he does it in both an entertaining and interesting fashion. I've been working with .NET for nearly a decade and I still discovered some things I didn't know! Next up was a thorough coverage of the useful tools to be found in Visual Studio 2012, with a brief overview of the differentiation of features between versions. The author follows on his overview and tools coverage with a look at the basics of the C# language, including such topics as types, arrays, operators and conditional programming. The writing style throughout this material is extensive and comprehensive, but I found myself reading and devouring it more like a summer blockbuster than a technical book.
Finally, Chapter 6 began with what felt to me a very logical break into the next "section" of the book and a highly informative breakdown of types and objects. Combined with Chapter 7 on controlling the flow of a program, the author delivers nearly 100 pages of content that I feel is necessary information for a developer at any level who wants to understand what goes into writing robust applications to perform complex work. These two chapters serve as much as a primer for the content to follow. Chapters 8-14 (nearly 300 pages) then covers everything from the ground up, tracing exception/resource maangement all the way through object-oriented development principles.
The remainder of the text delved into generics, collections, delegates (about which I have a MUCH better understanding, now), LINQ, reflection and dynamic programming. Finally, Mr. De Smet wraps it up with talk of program organization, tapping deep into the .NET APIs, and the ever-elusive methods for writing both multi-threaded and asynchronous programs. At the end of the book, I found myself simply saying: WOW! Of all the C# 5.0 books currently entering the market, and probably significantly into the future, C# 5.0 Unleashed is going to be the one to beat and the standard by which other competing titles may well be measured.
There were two cons I noted: First, code samples were a bit "scattered" and not as comprehensive as I might have hoped. In fact, there were times I found them over-simplified, which means developers will have to use their imagination and may not find this the best book for straight up adoption of the code into their own programs. Second, while the book was very well organized on the whole (something you don't usually find in books of this size), I believe the chapter on I/O should have come earlier and had more code/discussion dedicated to the topic. File I/O is a significant part of what we as developers do each day. Only 40 some pages were devoted to the topic, which I deem falls well short of the coverage it deserves.
All that said, I still have no trouble giving the book a full five stars due not only to the magnitude of the undertaking but because the author, editors, reviewers and publishing staff obviously put a monstrous effort into constructing and delivering a quality text to those of us hungry for it. I strongly recommend the book for developers at every level, and encourage practitioners to purchase this title for themselves and development teams within your enterprise.
* Per the rules of full discolosure, this reviewer did receive a free copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for writing this review. However, all opinions and observations regarding the text are my own, and based on my experience as a professional developer on the C#.NET platform.