Maybe you’ve been dabbling in HTML and JavaScript and now you’re thinking about taking programming a bit more seriously.  Or perhaps you have an idea for the next “killer” app—now you just need to learn how to create it.  So you’ve been doing some research on the Web and decided to check out C#, you’ve been reading about Visual Studio, and you’ve even been perusing the pages of MSDN Magazine.

But then you quickly noticed that MSDN Magazine contains mostly intermediate to advanced content.  It’s a community where professional and skilled developers share advanced techniques with other adept developers.

As an editor at MSDN Magazine, I understand. While I know my way around a computer and can usually help fix my family’s various computer problems, I know very little about programming.  And working with the experts that write our articles only reminds me every day of how little I know about the topic. 

Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m familiar with classes, I understand the concepts around multithreading, and I can explain what an "application block" is. But all this knowledge is on a very academic level. I’m far away from putting these concepts into practice. Right now, I open Visual Studio and don’t know where to begin. 

So what do you do if you’re just getting started?  What if you’re looking to learn some basic C# techniques on your own?  

Finding good information to get started is difficult.  I’ve looked at a number of books recently and found that many of them weren’t answering my basic questions—at least not before I got frustrated and intimidated (and decided instead to set down the book and watch a rerun of Futurama).  Fortunately, though, there are some really good resources out there.  A lot really has to do with how you like to learn.  I, personally, am an active learner.  Rather than first sitting down and reading a manual, I want to be hands-on immediately. One book I found that is good for this approach is “Build a Program Now”. I picked up the Microsoft Visual C# 2005 Express Edition, which includes the necessary software on disc, and jumped right in. 

For those of you who are checking out the site, but don’t know where to begin, I thought I’d share a few handy resources: 
- As I mentioned, there’s the “Build a Program Now” book ( There is also a Visual Basic edition.
- Microsoft just launched the Beginner Developer Learning Center ( This starts with the rudimentary concepts and steps you through the entire learning process.
- Visual Studio Express Editions ( These are free, lightweight environments designed for novices and hobbyists.  We also ran an article on the Express Editions in our September 2004 issue of MSDN Magazine.

How many of you visiting our site are just getting started?  What has your learning experience been so far?

matt graven
Developmental Editor
MSDN Magazine  |  TechNet Magazine