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A C# Programming Tour

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Learning a new programming language can be intimidating. This first chapter is designed to build confidence and get you immediately productive with C#. By the time you complete this chapter, you’ll have built a real-world application that lets a user browse his or her hard drive and display a picture on the screen.

"Sams Teach Yourself C# in 24 Hours" is targeted toward those who have little or no programming experience. The book has been structured and written with a purpose, and that is to get you productive as quickly and as smoothly as possible. I have used my experiences from writing large commercial applications to create a book that cuts through the fluff and teaches you what you need to know. All too often authors fall into the trap of focusing on the technology rather than on the practical application of the technology. This book, in contrast, focuses on teaching you practical skills that you can apply immediately toward a development project.

This book is divided into five parts, each of which focuses on a different aspect of developing applications with C#. These parts generally follow the flow of tasks you'll perform as you begin creating your own programs using C#, and include The Visual Studio Environment, Building a User Interface, Making Things Happen – Programming!, Working with Data, and Deploying Solutions and Beyond. It is highly recommended that you read the chapters in the order in which they appear.

—James Foxall

This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Learning a new programming language can be intimidating. If you've never programmed before, the act of typing seemingly cryptic text to produce sleek and powerful applications probably seems like a black art, and you may wonder how you'll ever learn everything you need to know. The answer is, of course, one step at a time. The first step to learning a language is the same as that of any other activity—building confidence. Programming is part art and part science. Although it may seem like magic, it's more akin to illusion; after you know how things work, a lot of the mysticism goes away, freeing you to focus on the mechanics necessary to produce the desired result.

In this hour, you'll complete a quick tour that takes you step-by-step through creating a complete, albeit small, C# program. I've yet to see a "Hello World" program that's the least bit helpful (they usually do nothing more than print "hello world" to the screen—oh, fun). So instead, you'll create a picture-viewer application that lets you view Windows bitmaps and icons on your computer. You'll learn how to let a user browse for a file and how to display a selected picture file on the screen, both of which are skills that will come in handy in later applications that you create. Creating large, commercial solutions is accomplished by way of a series of small steps. After you've finished creating this small project, you'll have an overall feel for the development process.

The highlights of this hour include the following:

  • Building a simple, yet functional, C# application

  • Letting a user browse a hard drive

  • Displaying a picture from a file on disk

  • Getting familiar with some programming lingo

  • Learning about the Visual Studio—C# IDE

I hope that by the end of this hour, you'll realize just how much fun it is to program using C#.

Starting C#

You must become familiar with a few terms before you begin to create programs in C#:

  • Distributable Component The final, compiled version of a project. Components can be distributed to other people and other computers and do not require C# to run (although the .NET Framework is required, which you'll learn about in coming hours). Distributable components are also called programs. In Hour 22, "Deploying a Solution," you'll learn how to distribute the Picture Viewer program that you're about to build to other computers.

  • Project A collection of files that can be compiled to create a distributable component (program). There are many types of projects, and complex applications may consist of many projects, such as a Windows Application project and support DLL projects.

  • Solution A collection of projects and files that compose an application or component.

C# is a complete development environment; every tool you'll need to create your C# projects is accessed from within Visual Studio. The Visual Studio-C# environment is called the IDE, short for Integrated Development Environment, and it is the design framework in which you build applications. To work with C# projects, you must first start the Visual Studio IDE.

Start the C# IDE now by choosing Microsoft Visual Studio .NET from within the Microsoft Visual Studio .NET folder on your Start menu.

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