I succumbed to temptation and bought another book at the MSDN briefing yesterday, pausing only out of concern that the guy who mans the Computer Manuals stand at these events might think that I’m stalking him (or fancy him!). Having determined that I could hand over my Barclaycard whilst flashing my wedding ring, I brought my current reading list up to three:
Developer to Designer: GUI Design for the Busy Developer – this was a wedding present from my mother-in-law and is proving to be an interesting, easy-going read so far. My competencies lie in the middle tier and database, and although I’m technically capable of making GUIs, I prefer to leave the design up to others. It’s inevitable though that most coders end up doing some design, and this book is, er, designed (sorry) to help with that process. The early section of the book concentrates on each UI element in turn, whilst the later part of the book looks at putting it all together, and has particular focus on the web – layout design patterns and interaction patterns. It’s a good read, making a nice contrast from the heavier books, and I’m pleased to learn that I’m not alone in hating Outlook’s labyrinthine Tools->Options dialog!
Effective C#: 50 Specific Ways to Improve Your C# – another good read that isn’t too heavy, this is a good book of short hints and tips to dip into when waiting for the latest CTPs of VS and SQL Server to install (well, at least that’s when I’ve found myself reading it). Depending on your level of experience with C#, you may find some of these suggestions are teaching you to suck eggs, but they all come with detailed justifications that provide useful insights into .NET internals, and out of fifty points you’re bound to find something that you didn’t previously know. If you’re new to C#, get this book now and put it’s suggestions into practice from the start. If you think you’re an expert, borrow a copy and use it as a checklist of your knowledge.
Head First Design Patterns – this is the book I picked up yesterday (yes, partly because of the cute blonde on the cover), but it was the outstanding content that stopped me putting it down again. This doesn’t feel like a normal O’Reilly book, and it feels very far removed from the original Gang of Four’s Design Patterns book – yet it covers the same material. This is a patterns book that won’t send you to sleep, that will make you laugh, that will make those tricky concepts sink in and your misconceptions float away. It’s cool, clever, succinct and quite unlike any other tech book I’ve read. The only slight downer is that all the examples are in Java, but this really shouldn’t be an issue for any half-competent C# developer. Superb.