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Last updated:
April 15, 2005

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Rick's Bookshelf Recommendations

A lot of people ask me what books I recommend, especially for starting out with .NET, so I've compiled a list of the ones that I like or use on a frequent basis. I go through a lot of books, and many of them are not on this list, so the ones here are the ones that made the cut for me.


ASP.NET Unleashed
by Stephen Walther
This is probably the best all around ASP.Net book out there to date even though it is a VB.Net book <g>. The book is very comprehensive and covers all of the major development issues nicely and although it's huge book it's very readable and the content is valuable. The samples are clear and useful and most importantly this book is easy to read and follow along both from the writing style as well as the layout. It also works well as a reference as most of the samples are short and to the point and immediately useful.

Essential ASP.NET
by Fritz Onion
This is the essential book if you want to know how ASP.NET works. This book has excellent architectural detail and lots of useful information and tips about how to take advantage of lower level features of ASP.NET. It has the best discussion of the low level Web Server hookups from IIS to ASP.NET I've seen in a book. This is also a very tight and readable book - no tome and not a lot of excess information. Fritz's writing is excellent explaining complex topics in very understandable and readable terms. This book rocks!

Programming Microsoft ASP.Net
by Dino Esposito
This book too delves underneath the covers. I'm a big fan of Dino's writing, and this book is a typical Dino book. If you're interested in the inner workings of ASP.Net and would like to understand how things work behind the scenes this book is excellent. It's geared at the developer who already has an understanding of ASP.Net and it then proceeds to delve into more detail of the architecture that really makes you understand *why* things work the way they do in ASP.Net. For me this resulted in a number of 'Aha' moments, that really have helped me work more efficiently with the various ASP.Net controls. There are also some very useful, but fairly involved examples in this book which are great both for understanding the technology as well as being reusable. I can't recommend this book enough but understand that it is more along the lines of a deep techie book rather than a hands on book.

Applied Microsoft .NET Framework Programming
by Jeffrey Richter
This is an excellent introduction to how the .Net framework works at a relatively low level. This book is covers a lot of ground, and is written in Jeff's usual readable style. I've found a lot of insights in this book especially when I was first learning .Net. This book serves as a good foundation on many of the principles that .Net is based on. This book is focused on C#, but there's also a VB version of this book available now.

Expert C# (or VB.NET) Business
by Rocky Lhotka

This is an excellent, excellent book that discusses in great detail the architecture behind building business objects on the .NET framework. Although I don't agree with all the technological choices made for the framework presented in this book, Rocky does an outstanding job of explaining his choices and alternatives and why he chose the path he took. This is an advanced text and assumes a solid understanding of .NET, but Rocky's writing is very readable.

Programming .NET Components
Juval Lowry
This is another excellent advanced .NET book, that is both readable and acts as an excellent reference. It's funny this book has a certain air of arrogance to it as is Juval's style I guess. But for good reason since Juval knows what he's talking about. This book concisely covers advanced topics. The chapters on serialization and multi-threading alone is worth this book.

A Programmer's Introduction to C#...
by Eric Gunnerson
When I first got this book I didn't think much of it, but I've ended up using this book quite a bit to look things up quickly. It's a great reference for C# programming although it's very terse and dry. But for looking up concepts and programming blocks and some concise and useful examples this book is great as it's straight to the point. Not a good book to learn C# though.

Inside Visual Studio .NET  (for Add-ins and Macros)
by Brian Johnson, Craig Skibo, Marc Young
If you plan on building add-ins for .NET or write macros this is the book to get. I have 3 or four books on this topic and this is the only one I actually use for looking up information on building add-ins. This book is the best of the bunch, but even so it lacks advanced information - you'll need to find the more complex stuff on the Web.

Software Development

Joel on Software
Joel Spolsky
This book is very entertaining and tought provoking read on the process of software development. It's a bunch of short very insightful and practical essays taken from Joel's Web site. It's not a technical book, but deals with high level and human aspects of software development. Some of the essays are common sense, others are downright hilarious and others make you think, especially if you are like me not always 100% on 'official' software development practices. This book is a very enjoyable read.

System Programming

Advanced Windows (3rd Ed)
by Jeffrey Richter
This is one of my favorite books of all time. It has everything you ever wanted to know about Windows internals and advanced development topics like multi-threading, memory management, using memory mapped files, named pipes etc. Jeff has a way of making even the most complicated topics understandable and this book has helped me on numerous occasions figure out a tough technical problem that I thought I had no chance of solving. 


Visual FoxPro

Internet Applications with Visual FoxPro 6.0
By Rick Strahl
An introduction to Web Development with Visual FoxPro. Although this book is a VFP 6.0 book that includes some technologies that are not necessary recommended anymore (FoxISAPI) it still includes a lot of good information and guidelines for Web development.

WebRAD: Building Database Applications on the Web with Visual FoxPro and West Wind Web Connection

By Randy Pearson, Harold Chattaway, Whil Hentzen, Barbara Peisch
This is book is a great addon for Web Connection that provides information that simply wouldn't have fit into the product documentation. Pepperred with useful samples and great day to day advice this book is a must have add on for Web Connection developers.

Advanced Object Oriented Programming with Visual FoxPro
by Markus Egger
This book is a great introduction to object oriented programming starting with the basics and working its way up to day to day practices and patterns in development. This book is also very readable, especially since it's written by a big Austrian guy <g>.