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This book won’t teach you how to write code. In fact, I’m going to assume that you already know how to write code. Oh, you might pick up a tip here and there, but by and large, my focus isn’t on helping you write better C# applications. You’ve finished a university course on the subject, or spent long winter nights huddled up to the .NET Framework SDK figuring it out on your own. Now if someone asks you for a doubly linked list or a class to represent customers, you’re all set.
But when you take your coding skills out to the real world (or what passes for the real world in software circles), you’ll discover that there’s more to the job than that. I like to draw a distinction between coders , who know the syntax and semantics of a computer language, and developers , who can apply that knowledge to turning out a working application with all the necessary supporting details. This book is dedicated to helping you make the transition from coder to developer.
Because of my own background, most of the advice here is aimed at developers working alone or in small groups. If you’re a corporate developer stuck in a regimented cubicle farm, you may find less here that applies to you (though I certainly encourage you to look!). If you’ve got an idea for a product, or have been given an assignment to build an internal application and don’t know quite how to go from concept to execution, then this book is for you.
I’ve used C# and Visual Studio .NET 2003 throughout this book as the core of my development process. Of course, much of the advice I have to offer isn’t specific to this particular language or development environment, but by focusing in one direction I can cover the topics more coherently. You’ll see as you go along that there are dozens of other tools, large and small, that I find helpful in development. It’s hard to overemphasize the importance of good tools in this business. Every repetitive or difficult task in development, save one, is subject to being automated and made trivial by the proper tool.
That one task, of course, is the actual writing of the code. Although design tools can help you come up with an initial code structure, and refactoring tools can help make that structure more sensible (you’ll learn about both of those topics in this book), ultimately it’s up to you to create your application out of pure thought. By removing busywork tasks from your to-do list, however, good tools can give you the time and energy you need to indulge your creativity.
Keep in mind, though, that you don’t need every tool that I mention to turn out good software. You’ll have to be hardheaded and sensible when evaluating trial versions and deciding which ones are worth their purchase price.
With the large number of tools in the text, you’ll find an equally large number of URLs. To save you the bother of typing these in by hand, you can visit the book’s website (www.CoderToDeveloper.com) for links directly to the tools. You’ll also find the code for the sample application on both www.CoderToDeveloper.com and www.Sybex.com; see the inside back cover for more details.
Also, of course, there are new tools every day that would fit right in with this book. I keep a daily weblog of such finds at my other website, www.larkware.com. Feel free to drop by for updates.
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