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[Fwd: Re: [DotGNU]The C# Book - The plan]

From: Peter Minten
Subject: [Fwd: Re: [DotGNU]The C# Book - The plan]
Date: Thu, 11 Jul 2002 15:24:22 +0200

Hi folks,

here is a reply from me to some important comments to the book that were mailed
to me off list. Especially the part about using schoolbook-style tutorials or a
more off-road approach is important to the book.


Peter Minten

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: [DotGNU]The C# Book - The plan
From: Peter Minten <address@hidden>
To: Anselm Hook <address@hidden>

Anselm Hook wrote:
> I'm just catching the tail end of this discussion so my knee-jerk comments
> may be off track - I apologize if so.  I'll just send my thoughts to you
> rather than bombing the whole list.

They surely aren't off track, in fact this kind of positive criticism is just
what we need.
> Does the world really need another book about how to program?  This takes
> on the quality of a campfire story; something that everybody likes to hear
> over and over but is really only reassuring because of its familiarity.

If the book would only state what other books have stated before I would say
you're completely right, but a large part of the book covers specific DotGNU
libraries and classes. All C# books available today covers C# used for .NET,
.NET has a lot of classes in it that aren't in the ECMA standard and thus aren't
in DotGNU, and DotGNU has classes that aren't in .NET. If there are only books
covering .NET then learning how to program in DotGNU would be a lot harder and
thus would weaken the position of DotGNU.

> It would be nice to see a book that gives only cursory attention to the
> basics and instead focuses on what C# can or cannot do that differentiates
> it from other languages.  The question isn't how to use C# but why to use
> C#.  Something more like a cook-book of useful receipes and patterns as
> accomplished in C#.  For example can one implement reasonably transparent
> persistence in C#?  What are clever ways to use delegates as an event
> handling mechanism?  What's a good example of using reflection to build
> objects from scratch?  Beginners would benefit more from receipes and
> examples that they could scavenge from rather than from pedantic tutorials
> rehashing the same tired old ground.  'C# Gems' would be better than 'C#
> for dummies'.  I simply question the whole pedagogic approach being
> implied by a linear tutorial process - is this really even how beginners
> learn?

Mu, this is how all beginners start to learn, but a part of them will leave the
paved road of the tutorial and go experimenting while others stay on that road.
So the answer is both yes and no.

You seem to have another idea of beginners in this context than me. The book is
aimed at beginners in programming, not programmers learning a new language.
Beginners don't have any use for comparison between languages simply because
they don't know any, and information about using reflection won't be of much use
for them either. To learn the basics of programming schoolbook style tutorials
are very useful.

Examples are always good idea to clarify concepts. I'm don't like the idea of
recipes however. This is because of the fact that recipes give a programmer a
prefab way of doing things, using recipes creates programmers who work by the
book and thus are badly fit for real life programming. In fact the best thing
you could do for a programmer as an author is to give no advice on how to handle
a certain problem because this will force the programmer to think about the
problem and develop it's own solution. The solution will probably be far from
perfect, but the road to that solution is a very valuable experience for the

The differences between C# and other languages are important to know for a
programmer so I've put that into the plan, thanks for the suggestion. Though
it's probably not a good idea to spent a lot of time comparing languages,
comparisons could be made in the intro to C# and during the rest of the book
when there is something remarkable to see when comparing (for example the lack
of C style fall-through in C#).

Though I'm not so fond of the idea of recipes the concept of leaving the paved
road of schoolbook style tutorials is a very good idea (and if we encourage
students to learn by working on Free Software projects a very beneficial one too

This is only my opinion, I don't know if the others agree with me. Because of
that I would like to ask you if it's all right if I forward this to the list so
that the others can react on it too.


Peter Minten

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