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Framework Design Guidelines: Conventions, Idioms, and Patterns for Reusable .NET Libraries (2nd Edition) Hardcover – Oct 22 2008

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 2 edition (Oct. 22 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0321545613
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321545619
  • Product Dimensions: 18.7 x 3.2 x 24.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 953 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #251,901 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


Framework Design Guidelines is one of those rare books that can be read at different reading levels and can be useful to different kinds of developers. Regardless of whether you want to design an effective object model, improve your understanding of the .NET Framework, borrow from the experience of software gurus, stay clear of the most common programming mistakes, or just get an idea of the huge effort that led to the .NET initiative, this book is a must-read.”

—Francesco Balena, The VB Migration Partner Team (, Code Architect, Author, and Microsoft Regional Director, Italy


“Frameworks are valuable but notoriously difficult to construct: your every decision must be geared toward making them easy to be used correctly and difficult to be used incorrectly. This book takes you through a progression of recommendations that will eliminate many of those downstream ‘I wish I’d known that earlier’ moments. I wish I’d read it earlier.”

—Paul Besly, Principal Technologist, QA


“Not since Brooks’ The Mythical Man Month has the major software maker of its time produced a book so full of relevant advice for the modern software developer. This book has a permanent place on my bookshelf and I consult it frequently.”

—George Byrkit, Senior Software Engineer, Genomic Solutions


“Updated for the new language features of the .NET Framework 3.0 and 3.5, this book continues to be the definitive resource for .NET developers and architects who are designing class library frameworks. Some of the existing guidelines have been expanded with new annotations and more detail, and new guidance covering such features as extension methods and nullable types has also been included. The guidance will help any developer write clearer and more understandable code, while the annotations provide invaluable insight into some of the design decisions that made the .NET Framework what it is today.”

—Scott Dorman, Microsoft MVP and President, Tampa Bay International Association of Software Architects


“Filled with information useful to developers and architects of all levels, this book provides practical guidelines and expert background information to get behind the rules. Framework Design Guidelines takes the already published guidelines to a higher level, and it is needed to write applications that integrate well in the .NET area.”

—Cristof Falk, Software Engineer


“This book is an absolute must read for all .NET developers. It gives clear ‘do’ and ‘don’t’ guidance on how to design class libraries for .NET. It also offers insight into the design and creation of .NET that really helps developers understand the reasons why things are the way they are. This information will aid developers designing their own class libraries and will also allow them to take advantage of the .NET class library more effectively.”

—Jeffrey Richter, Author/Trainer/Consultant, Wintellect


“The second edition of Framework Design Guidelines gives you new, important insight into designing your own class libraries: Abrams and Cwalina frankly discuss the challenges of adding new features to shipping versions of their products with minimal impact on existing code. You’ll find great examples of how to create version N+1 of your software by learning how the .NET class library team

created versions 2.0, 3.0, and 3.5 of the .NET library. They were able to add generics, WCF, WPF, WF, and LINQ with minimal impact on the existing APIs, even providing capabilities for customers wanting to use only some of the new features, while still maintaining compatibility with the original library.”

—Bill Wagner, Founder and Consultant, SRT Solutions, author of Effective C# and More Effective C#


“This book is a must read for all architects and software developers thinking about frameworks. The book offers insight into some driving factors behind the design of the .NET Framework. It should be considered mandatory reading for anybody tasked with creating application frameworks.”

—Peter Winkler, Sr. Software Engineer, Balance Technology Inc.


“An instant classic.”

—From the Foreword by Miguel de Icaza


From the Back Cover

Framework Design Guidelines, Second Edition,teaches developers the best practices for designing reusable libraries for the Microsoft .NET Framework. Expanded and updated for .NET 3.5, this new edition focuses on the design issues that directly affect the programmability of a class library, specifically its publicly accessible APIs.


This book can improve the work of any .NET developer producing code that other developers will use. It includes copious annotations to the guidelines by thirty-five prominent architects and practitioners of the .NET Framework, providing a lively discussion of the reasons for the guidelines as well as examples of when to break those guidelines.


Microsoft architects Krzysztof Cwalina and Brad Abrams teach framework design from the top down. From their significant combined experience and deep insight, you will learn

  • The general philosophy and fundamental principles of framework design
  • Naming guidelines for the various parts of a framework
  • Guidelines for the design and extending of types and members of types
  • Issues affecting-and guidelines for ensuring-extensibility
  • How (and hownot) to design exceptions
  • Guidelines for-and examples of-common framework design patterns

Guidelines in this book are presented in four major forms:Do, Consider, Avoid,andDo not.These directives help focus attention on practices that shouldalwaysbe used, those that shouldgenerallybe used, those that shouldrarelybe used, and those that shouldneverbe used. Every guideline includes a discussion of its applicability, and most include a code example to help illuminate the dialogue.


Framework Design Guidelines, Second Edition,is the only definitive source of best practices for managed code API development, direct from the architects themselves.


A companion DVD includes the Designing .NET Class Libraries video series, instructional presentations by the authors on design guidelines for developing classes and components that extend the .NET Framework. A sample API specification and other useful resources and tools are also included.

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Great book that I would highly recommend to any developer. Whether you're a beginner or seasoned programmer, this book describes many best practices and methods that are essential to writing a usable, maintainable API. A lot of it is common sense; but, most of the time, you don't realize that it's common sense until after you've read it. When reading some things you think to yourself "Hey, that's so simple, but so smart! I didn't think of it that way." This book is not exclusive to API development, however. Many of the things described in the book apply to various, everyday coding tasks. Pick it up!
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Format: Hardcover
I was reading this book for advice on how to build web services in an intelligent, framework-oriented way. This book focusses on the .NET framework (not a web service) but it was nevertheless amazing. Each guideline is backed up with clear, strong reasoning and the anecdotes from the authors of the .NET lends a welcome human touch. Definitely an amazing book, regardless of your development background, and its lessons can be extended to almost any program, not just frameworks.
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Format: Hardcover
Very useful regardless of your experience. I like having explanations from different point of view on each topic instead of just listing what you should do. Definite must have reference in my C# book library.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Maybe good for junior devs but experienced guys won't find here anything new.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9e4e7ac8) out of 5 stars 22 reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e5310cc) out of 5 stars A must-have personal favorite Jan. 17 2009
By Mel G. - Published on
Format: Hardcover
If you haven't bought this book yet, you really should. The first edition has been an invaluable asset to me on a number of past projects, and the second edition is even better with sections on newer language and framework features such as Linq and extension methods.

I've seen, read, and even written a few standards documents in my time as a professional programmer, and I think this book is the last one I'll be needing. The format of the book is one I always enjoyed, with the guidance interspersed with comments from the "peanut gallery" of Microsoft architects. These asides give you a lot of insight into the "why"s, something which a lot of standards documents are missing (I'm talking about YOU, IDesign). It's one thing to be told to do something in a particular way, but it's a lot better when you are told why. Simple coding patterns that I wouldn't have given a second thought to have turned out to have a great impact on other aspects of my code once they were explained.

The basics are covered, such as naming and formatting standards, but the book goes much further with sections about when and how to use certain interfaces, and provides some brief explanations of common design patterns as they relate to the .net framework. I'm not talking about "Visitor" or "Model View Presenter" here, I'm talking about "IDisposable"... muuuch lower level stuff.

Basically, this book isn't just about what you ought to be doing, it's about explaining why Microsoft did what they did in the .net framework. It's refreshing at times in the book to find a discussion about how something was a bad choice in retrospect, or how the framework designers wished they had done something differently knowing then what they know now. I feel a lot better about my own changes of mind, and less like an amateur for not having seen the eventual solution in the beginning. After reading it, I'm more comfortable that I've made the right career decision to stick with this programming stuff.

Another great asset included with this book is the DVD. It's full of training sessions and example API specifications. One of the first things I did with the previous edition was to convert all the videos to play on my Zune, and spent the next few weeks watching through them whenever I got the chance. I probably won't watch them all over again, since I think they're the same videos, but they're definitely worth the watching.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9fda2444) out of 5 stars If you're going to write maintainable .NET code, get this book Dec 5 2012
By Dr. Curmudgeon - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One of my all-time favorite programming books. Puts into very clear language practices that would have probably taken me a couple more years to come up to on my own.

It fully describes how and why the .NET framework is laid out the way it is, why the parts that seem to annoy you the most got it wrong and how, and provides many useful guidelines from helping you refrain from shooting yourself in the foot.

I might also say that it's equally applicable to just about any modern, sort of OO-based procedural language, but that would probably result in bloody religious wars.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e9ce0e4) out of 5 stars A Must not Only For .NET Developers... April 2 2009
By Igor Guerrero - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Also if you're thinking on developing a framework on any Object Oriented language, this is your book, it covers all the guidelines that makes a framework usable and powerful.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9ef601bc) out of 5 stars Great read for anyone who designs APIs for external users Feb. 5 2009
By Jason Short - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I build a product for users that has a large and complicated API. Over the years the API has grown sort of as the users needed it, and as the developers working on it thought of things. As a result you end up with one designers version of a variable called IsSet and another in another class called Active. The little things in an API (like consistent naming) make a big difference to users. So I was interested when I saw this book was from the Dot Net team.

The book is a series of guidelines, and then callouts from various contributors to the framework of why they like or dislike the rule. And in some cases very frank revelations about where they broke the rule and have now come to regret it. I like that format as most of the authors seemed to be very willing to discuss the frameworks mess ups and not just point to the parts they got right. It makes it seem much more human and approachable to me now.

There is not a lot of examples in the book though, it is mostly about building a style and set of guidelines for your application framework. I think this would make a great read for entry level programmers to help them understand the why you don't allow them to change the way things are exposed publicly, or to programmers who are looking to start designing APIs and are just looking for guidance. It is not a concrete how to build an API for doing "sometask". It is all about the theory behind API design and why you should employ the rules.

I have experienced many of the pains they explain in the book first hand (especially about Interfaces). Wish I would have read it before I released the first version of our API. I am implementing some changes based upon what I have read here, so it is definately a worthy book for those looking to take their design skills a little further.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e529d14) out of 5 stars excellent reference Nov. 17 2011
By Paul Gehrman - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book for .NET developers, although I wouldn't recommend it for beginners. I read it a few years ago when I first started in .NET and found it a bit overwhelming. However, after reading it again with a few more years of .NET under my belt, I found the book very informative and helpful in terms of understanding not only how public APIs should be built, but also excellent tidbits about various .NET coding best practices that are applicable to developing just about any type of app.

One other thing I'll mention about this book is that it is geared toward developing a public API, so many of the recommendations may not be applicable to your specific situation. Indeed, for the development of most apps that aren't going to be used by other developers, much simpler coding approaches and architectures can and should be used. Despite that, however, this book has a lot going for it and you'll certainly gain a much deeper understanding of .NET after reading it.