Review: The C# Programming Language
Published: 18 Jan 2004
Unedited - Community Contributed
A peek into the C# technical reference, The C# Programming Language by Anders Hejlsberg, Scott Wiltamuth and Peter Golde (Addison-Wesley).
by Teemu Keiski
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C# is one of the major programming languages in the .NET Framework.  According to the preface of 'The C# Programming Language', C# project started in December 1998 and the aim was to create a simple, modern, object-oriented and type-safe programming language. Years have passed by and since then the language is now in use by hundreds of thousands of programmers, it's standardized and what's important, the development of the second version is close to completion.
'The C# Programming Language' is the latest C# book published by Addison-Wesley. It's written by Anders Hejlsberg, Scott Wiltamuth and Peter Golde. Authors are members of C# design team at Microsoft.  Mr. Hejlsberg is also the language architect of C#.

At the time of writing the new version 2.0 of .Net Framework, codename Whidbey, is a hot subject. This book is interesting in that light because it contains the definitions of new features in the C# language used in the next version. Because the development of the v. 2.0 is still going, features described in the second part of the book might change. However, authors expect these changes to be minor.

It's important to understand right from the beginning that this book is a technical reference for C#. The book isn't meant to teach programming or how to use C# in the .NET Framework API. Therefore Windows Forms, ASP.Net, ADO.NET etc. are not the subject. They are part of the .NET Framework API, not C# language related in definitive sense. This book focuses on the building blocks of the language itself, how it is constructed, what's the technical definition of all its aspects like syntax and so forth. There are certainly introductions to things and concepts are explained with small sample code, but the focus is in the definition.

Basic Information

The book separated to two sections and appendixes. It has 644 pages in 23 chapters and 2 appendixes including the index.


Part I C# 1.0

1. Introduction
2. Lexical Structure
3. Basic Concepts
4. Types
5. Variables
6. Conversions
7. Expressions
8. Statements
9. Namespaces
10. Classes
11. Structs
12. Arrays
13. Interfaces
14. Enums
15. Delegates
16. Exceptions
17. Attributes
18. Unsafe Code

Part II C# 2.0

19. Introduction to C# 2.0
20. Generics
21. Anonymous Methods
22. Iterators
23. Partial Types


A. Documentation Comments
B. Grammar

The publisher, Addison-Wesley maintains a web site for the book. Authors do not have a direct web site for the book, but an interesting resource is C# Team's web site at

Pros & Cons


When the subject of the book is clear for you and you understand it is all about the even smallest details of C#, you’ll just love this book! It goes to the most unbelievable details in explaining all the concepts and giving all the definitions. Basically it tells you all what there is to be told.

Another great thing is that the book is very well organized. You don't have to dig through the whole book to search for certain thing, but you can just read the certain chapter or even paragraph. Most of the things are covered in the .NET Framework documentation, but a book like this is very welcome to ease the burden of searching details from documentation, which can sometimes be very annoying, especially if the information is not easily available.

And of course, information about the next version of C# is always interesting


Due to the chosen subject, this isn’t the easiest book to read and especially it isn't such that you'd read every day. The language used is very technical and explanations lean on theory, not necessarily on practical concepts. So this book isn't the best choice for beginners. It takes time to read and even more time to understand what the book tells about.

Another thing is that the book is written with quite flat style meaning that there isn't any personal touch on the writing. It is pretty much like the documentation in .Net Framework SDK. It tells you things and that's it.


As I said, this is a great book for people who are looking for something like this. Those, who want to know more than is necessarily needed, and those who need to get everything out of the tool used, are pretty sure excited about what this book has to offer. So if you are unsure what you need, try to take a peek to the book before buying it. If you are beginner, do not buy this book until you have got solid understanding how to work with the language. You don't need this book to be able to use C#.

From intermediate to professional users this book is a sure catch.

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