Learning and Staying Current in .NET Development, Part 1
This series lists some of the resources I use to educate myself and stay informed about new technologies. Take a look if you’re a fledgling developer just starting out, or if you’re simply looking for a new way to keep up-to-date.
These are mainly aimed at the Microsoft development stack, but many are transferable to other platforms.
You can subscribe to MSDN Flash if you want to get news delivered directly to your inbox, or you can just go to the Web site and view the latest issue in your browser.
Check to see if Microsoft has any in-person events near you. The presentations are informative and you’ll get the opportunity to network with other local developers. Sometimes they even give out free stuff like books or software licenses.
The event portal also links to various Webcasts in case there aren’t any live events in your region.
Channel 9 is a community for learning, and a place to get videos, podcasts, and screencasts. You can also watch shows and participate in the forums. There is a ton of content here, and there’s always something new.
If you’re a student, DreamSpark will get you free access to all sorts of developer tools that would otherwise be prohibitively expensive. Visual Studio, SQL Server, and Expression Studio are just some of the products offered.
Don’t underestimate the value of downloading software while it’s still in beta. Visual Studio in particular is known for it’s very high-quality pre-release versions. A good way to guarantee you don’t fall behind is to become an early adopter.
Even in an increasingly online world, books are ideal for assimilating large amounts of information at once. Do yourself a favor: take a break from clicking and start flipping pages for a while instead.
Pragmatic books are concise, well-written, and authored by people who are clearly passionate about the subject matter.
O’Reilly has historically published some of the best technology books available, although their consistency has declined somewhat in recent years.
Provides several insightful essays like “The Mythical Man-Month”, “The Second-System Effect”, and “No Silver Bullet”. A must-read, even if it is showing its age in some parts.
Also known as the “Gang of Four” (GoF) book, Design Patterns is full of elegant solutions to commonly occurring problems in software design.
Other books I’ve read and recommend
C# in Depth: What you need to master C# 2 and 3 by Jon Skeet
This is for serious C# developers who already have a background in the language. Skeet’s thorough coverage, attention to detail and precise wording make this an awesome learning tool and reference. The second edition is due out in August.
More inspirational than technical, this book offers numerous tips for becoming a great developer.
Coders at Work by Peter Seibel
Peter Seibel interviews 15 notable programmers. I’m only a few chapters into this one so far, but it’s fascinating to probe the minds of those who have been so influential in our industry.
Joel on Software: And on Diverse and Occasionally Related Matters That Will Prove of Interest to Software Developers, Designers, and Managers, and to Those Who, Whether by Good Fortune or Ill Luck, Work with Them in Some Capacity by Joel Spolsky
Joel is known in part for his widely read blog posts, several of which have been bound together here in book form. And yes, that really is the subtitle.
Hackers and Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age by Paul Graham
It’s interesting to note Graham’s support for Lisp, and the increased adoption of Lisp-like features into new languages since this was written.
If you struggle to find anything new while reading this book, it’s only because it’s been such an enormous influence over the past decade.
Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary by Linus Torvalds
Any developer who remembers tinkering with code at a very young age will relate with nostalgia to Torvalds’ geekiness. This story is indeed fun.
Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution by Steven Levy
Ever wonder how hacking began? Real, true hacking that started around the 1950’s? Hackers offers a peek inside the world of those who lived it.
Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas R. Hofstadter
This is not a programming book, but a clever, philosophical work of art. It’s not for everyone, but if you have a curious and analytical mind you might enjoy it.