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Professional .NET 2.0 Generics [Paperback]

Tod Golding

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Book Description

Oct. 17 2005 Programmer to Programmer
The power and elegance of generic types have long been acknowledged. Generics allow developers to parameterize data types much like you would parameterize a method. This brings a new dimension of reusability to your types without compromising expressiveness, type-safety, or efficiency. Now .NET generics makes this power available to all .NET developers. By introducing generic concepts directly into the Common Language Runtime (CLR), Microsoft has also created the first language-independent generics implementation. The result is a solution that allows generic types to be leveraged by all the languages of the .NET platform.

This book explores all aspects of the .NET generics implementation, covering everything from fundamental generic concepts, to the elements of generic syntax, to a broader view of how and when you might apply generics. It digs into the details associated with creating and consuming your own generic classes, structures, methods, delegates, and interfaces, examining all the nuances associated with leveraging each of these language constructs. The book also looks at guidelines for working with generic types, the performance gains achieved with generics, the new generic container libraries (BCL and third party), and key aspects of the underlying .NET implementation.

For those transitioning from C++, the book provides an in-depth look at the similarities and differences between templates and.NET generics. It also explores the syntactic variations associated with using generics with each of the .NET languages, including C#, Visual Basic, J#, and C++.


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From the Back Cover

Professional .NET 2.0 Generics

Generics represent one of the most compelling additions to the .NET platform, bringing a new dimension of type-safety, expressiveness, and performance to your data types. Professional .NET 2.0 Generics provides a detailed examination of all the facets of what you can achieve through applying generics. This includes both conceptual and syntactic explorations of generic classes, methods, interfaces, and delegates, as well as all the rules that govern their creation and consumption. The book provides comprehensive information on the new BCL generic types and the Power Collections library. It also looks at some of the broader generic topics, including generic guidelines, a comparison with C++ templates, and the underlying details of the .NET generics implementation.

What you will learn from this book

  • Techniques for using generics to improve the type-safety of your code
  • Steps on how to extend classes and introduce your own derivative generic types
  • A point-by-point breakdown of the guidelines for applying generics
  • Ways to achieve run-time efficiencies with generic types
  • Tips on how to work with generics in both J# and C++
  • How to extend and leverage BCL generic types
  • Approaches to using generics with serialization and remoting

Who this book is for

This book is for Professional VB.NET and C# programmers and architects who may be new to generics but have strong Microsoft coding skills.

Wrox Professional guides are planned and written by working programmers to meet the real-world needs of programmers, developers, and IT professionals. Focused and relevant, they address the issues technology professionals face every day. They provide examples, practical solutions, and expert education in new technologies, all designed to help programmers do a better job.

About the Author

Tod Golding has 20 years of experience as a software developer, lead architect, and development manager for organizations engaged in the delivery of large-scale commercial and internal solutions. He has an extensive background leveraging .NET, J2EE, and Windows DNA technologies, which has allowed him to become equally skilled with C#, Java, and C++. Tod has worked and consulted at a variety of companies, including stints with Microsoft and Borland.
Tod has a B.S. in Computer Science from California State University, Sacramento. He started his writing career as a journalist for the Sacramento Bee daily newspaper. Prior to this book, he was also a contributing author for the XML Programming Bible, another Wiley publication. Tod currently resides in Sacramento, California, where he owns and operates Blue Puma Software.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  18 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really fun, informative read April 3 2006
By William G. Ryan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I just got a copy of this book earlier today and am comfortable reviewing it already. That's because I've read through it already. After I got started, I didn't want to put it down and although I spent most of today reading it, it was very informative and a lot of fun to read.

The first chapter is your standard first chapter and lays the groundwork for the rest of the book. It moves forward into the subject of Generics and new .NET 2.0 Framework featurews , briefly discusses the difference between templates and generics and them moves full steam into generics. To of the last chapters discuss J# and C++ in particular, as opposed more specific generics topics but they are definitely appropriate and don't come at the expense of anything else.

The main thing that this book does is explain why you want to use generics and shows how to use them. The author knows the subject matter well and does a very good job of explaining each objective. by the time you move into the middle of the book, you'll thoroughly understand how to create and manage generic types and you'll learn quite a bit about the performance implications and benefits. Chapters 4-8 walk you through just about every aspect of using generics (as opposed to the previous 1.x way of doing things).

Chapter 8 moves onto the BCL implementations and ties together everything before it. By the time you complete chapter 8, you'll be comfortable in your ability to handle just about anything you'd ever want to accomplish with generics.

Chapter 9 discusses Serialization, Reflection and Remoting. This chapter was ostensibly my favorite but is also the one I have the biggest complaint with. Don't get me wrong, it's excellent. However I really wish the discussion on remoting was a little longer. NOt because it's not in depth enough, nothing after all was left out or short changed. However the Remoting section has a really cool example and explanation, but it's so cool that I could have read 5 more chapters on generics and remoting without getting bored. I'm not really criticizing it though, my only point is that I liked it so much I wish there was more of it because I couldn't get enough.

After chapter 9, Generics guidelines are covered and then generics "under the hood" are discussed. The things that make chatper 11 really good are quite technical in nature and I couldn't possibly go into it in a book review but suffice to say that it's very well done.

C++ and J# are discussed next which are well done but nothing to get excited about compared to the rest of the material. Then th ebook wraps up with "Power collections" which is a perfect finally.

I've never read anything from Mr Golding before but I got his other 2.0 Framework book today too and I really look forward to reading it. Generics are an important subject and definitely warrant having an entire book dedicated to them, and Mr Golding does a great job expalining the ins and outs of them.

Concise and easy to understand, I totally understand why the book has the ratings it does - it's definitely a 5 star book.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The BIG Addition in .NET 2.0 Nov. 14 2005
By John Matlock - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The most important changes in the new .NET 2.0 is the inclusion of Generics. Note the word 'Professional' in the title. This book is for Professional VB.NET and C# programmers and architects who may be new to generics but have strong Microsoft coding skills.

The book begins on page 1 with a section labeled 'Why Generics.' After three introductory paragraphs he starts off with a couple of sample programs. The two programs do the same thing, but one is written in VB and the other in C#. After a few pages he modifies these two programs to show the benefit to the coding that using Generics provides. As I said earlier, this is by no means a beginners book, it's one professional programmer writing for another.

I don't knwo for sure, but his book probably has more space showing programs than text. This doesn't make for the easiest book to read, but when you get through it, you see exactly what Generics provide. You see the strengths, you see the limitations. You see exactly how to use them in your code.

Finally in the last chapter, which is 77 pages long, deals with the Power Collections generic libraries and how to use them. One thing he does not give is a web address for the collections. Here are some that may be of help:

Power Collections -- [...]

C5 -- [...]

NCollection -- ncollection.tigris.org/

NGenLib -- ngenlib.sourceforge.net/
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent coverage of an important new feature in 2.0 Nov. 30 2005
By Sredni Vashtar - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Generics are one of the biggest advances introduced in .NET 2.0, and this book provides excellent coverage of the topic. As a diehard fan of C++ templates, I especially appreciated the careful discussion of the differences between templates and generics. There is plenty of introductory material here to help the reader unfamiliar with the basic concepts; but more advanced readers can also dig in to the chapters on the "inner workings" of generics, and on how C++ templates can interact with them. The book also provides a concise reference on the template classes supplied with the framework. Highly recommended.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars finally available in .NET Nov. 13 2005
By W Boudville - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Generics is [sic] one of the most compelling ideas in any object oriented language. The puzzle is that it was not present in the first versions of .NET and Java. It is only now (2004-5) that both languages comes with this. A little strange, considering that C++ has had templates for several years, and these are roughly equivalent to the implementations of Generics in .NET and Java.

Anyhow, Golding focuses on explaining the use of Generics within .NET. The latter encompasses several Microsoft languages that now have this facility - VB, C# and J#. The book makes a practice of giving code examples in pairs; written in VB and C#. To broaden its appeal to practitioners in both.

He shows how Generics can be succinctly thought of as parametric polymorphism. It takes the elementary idea of polymorphism that every object oriented language has, and extends it to parameterising the input types to a class's methods or constructors.

The book gives a pretty thorough rundown on Generics. Including explaining the differences with C++ templates. The biggest being crucially that .NET Generics are instantiated at runtime, while the latter are at compile time. [Golding devotes an entire chapter to the consequences of this.]

You can get an appreciation for the extra type safety and generalisations possible in your code.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling information about a compelling new feature in .Net Nov. 20 2005
By Michael Cohn - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Until reading this book, I had been nervous about the introduction of generics into .Net. First, I wasn't sure how well they would be implemented equivalently across multiple languages. Second, I had been an early C++ programmer and lived through how complicated the introduction of templates made that language. This book has convinced me that generics will work equally well in C++, C#, and even Visual Basic.

As a long-time C++ programmer, my favorite chapter was Chapter 3, which presented very cogent arguments as to why generics are not the same as templates. Another favorite is Chapter 10, which presents 23 very specific guidelines for all generics programmers to be mindful of. The book benefits greatly from always showing each example in both VB and then in C#.

I'm sure you could pick up a more general "Programming in .Net" book and read its one chapter on generics. However, since generics are probably the most significant addition to .Net, you will miss out on learning many of the powerful new ways to take advantage of generics that Golding presents in this book.

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