How to Learn C#: Importance, Skills, and Training Paths
The C# programming language was developed in 2000 by Microsoft software engineer Anders Hejlsberg, also known for developing TypeScript and Delphi. This general-purpose, object-oriented programming (OOP) language is popular among programmers who build websites, games, apps, and other applications primarily on the Windows .NET framework, but also on open-source platforms.
In researching how to learn C#, you will find it is a straightforward and versatile language that both advanced developers and beginners (and everyone in between) can use to develop software. Digging a little deeper, C# offers a host of other benefits, which is why as of June 2022, C# ranked #4 in popularity in the PYPL PopularitY of Programming Language Index.
There are a variety of paths for individuals looking to learn programming languages and gain hands-on coding experience. Discover more about the technology skills you can develop as a Revature associate.
Why Learn C#
Why learn C#? Here are four traits of C# that make it an important language to have in your programming toolset.
1. Simple and Readable
Programmers often spend more time reading and understanding code than actually writing it. This is particularly true in settings where more than one programmer is working on coding an application. Just like every book author has their own unique writing style, so do programmers.
For many programmers, readability is not only a matter of choice, but a requirement for doing their jobs effectively. With C#, programmers can create legible code structures and syntax that are simple to follow. One of the end goals of coding, after all, is to provide an avenue for programmers to express their ideas clearly so that software is not only functional but also elegant and efficient.
2. High-Level Language
When people learn Latin, they acquire knowledge of the root language of a host of modern languages, including English, Spanish, and French. Similarly, a programmer can use high-level programming language to write programs that are applicable across a wide range of computer types, from laptops to mobile devices. Because C# shares similar syntax and programming principles with C, C++, and Java, programmers who know C# can more easily learn these other languages.
High-level languages such as C# are also closer to human language, which makes it easier for programmers to understand. Through a compiler, a machine can translate high-level language into machine language. On the other hand, machines do not need to interpret low-level language. But low-level languages are tough for humans to understand, difficult to debug, and are machine dependent.
One trait that C# shares with low-level languages is that it can access memory directly. This ability is built-in to low-level languages; in C#, programmers can do so with commands known as pointers.
3. Statically Typed
Because type error-checking takes place at compile time, C# programmers can more easily detect flaws in the code before launching applications. Another benefit of static typing is that it helps automate time-consuming tasks such as debugging, simplifying programming and development processes.
A programmer using C# doesn’t need an interpreter to convert code directly into machine code. This means C# code can run faster than other languages that use interpreters to convert code into the zeros and ones that machines understand. For example, C# code can be up to 44 times faster than Python code.
Additionally, with reusable components, a comprehensive library, and an extensive memory bank, C# code can enable faster software development while providing high-level functionality to reduce the time it takes software to go to market.
C# skills run the gamut from basic coding to using various platforms and frameworks. Which skills a programmer uses will vary depending on their role. For example, a .NET software engineer will need skills in coding for databases, logic servers, and web pages. Additional technology skills for a .NET software engineer may include writing, modifying, and debugging software. In most roles, individuals with C# skills will need to understand how to use databases and work with designers on web page elements. C# programmers should also have knowledge of:
Common language runtime (CLR)
Versioning tools, such as Git
Basic C# Topics
An individual who masters C# with .NET framework can develop a wide breadth of applications and build essential skills that can be applied to other object-oriented programming languages. But an understanding of the basics should be a first step. Here are a few basic C# topics every individual looking to pursue a career in C# programming should know.
Objects and Classes
In C#, associations between classes and objects with other elements exist at every level. Classes serve as a foundation for constructing objects. Consider this non-technical explanation: if an object is a building, then a class is a blueprint for that building. It is important to note that a class is a reference type variable, which means it stores references to objects.
Struct represents a structure type in C#. It is a simple way in C# to encapsulate and group data and related functionality into a single unit. Struct is similar to class, with the main difference being that class is a reference type, while struct is a value type, meaning that it directly contains its data. A struct is typically not modified after it is created.
Expressions are a building block of C# programming. They are made up of operands and operators. An operand is a variable or value. An operator manipulates the variables and values. Grouping operators and operands creates an expression, which produces a result in a program.
Organizing code elements is essential for any programming language. Otherwise, chaos in the code, and in the development process, can follow. In C#, namespaces work as a type of container to logically separate, arrange, and organize code elements such as classes and structs.
C# Advanced Topics
With a fundamental understanding of basic C# topics, you can move on to C# advanced topics, such as the following.
Exceptions and Exception Handling
When a problem arises during the execution of a program written in C#, it is known as an exception. Exception handling seeks to solve runtime errors (an issue that occurs when a program is executed) to maintain the flow of the application and enable the code to continue to be executed after exception. Without exception handling, a runtime error can result in an error message display or a crash that terminates the program.
Assemblies are executable (.exe) or dynamic link library (.dll) files comprised of different types and resources built to work together as a unit of functionality in an application. A .NET application uses the common language runtime information provided in assemblies for deployment, version control, security permissions, and more. Assemblies are typically created using Visual Studio, a development tool that can create .dll or .exe files.
What happens if a programmer defines a type-safe data structure but then has to change the data type? With generics, C# programmers do not have to commit to a data type when writing a class, because generics can work with any data type. This creates advantages in the programming process, such as reducing the amount of code needed, increasing code reusability, and improving code performance.
Steps to Learn C#
The path to a career as a tech professional will differ for everyone. If that path includes learning C#, there are two primary steps everyone should take.
The first step is to understand what the language is about and why individuals learn C#. A simple Google search for “C#” can provide volumes of information about C#; its history, its purpose, and case studies of its use in the real world.
The second step is to begin on a path to learn C#. Depending on their technical skill level, experience, and familiarity with programming concepts, some individuals will be able to understand C# quickly, while others may need more time and a more formal structure to learn the language. Several options exist to help learn C#.
Tutorials and Videos
Aspiring C# programmers can take advantage of the many tutorials and videos available on the web. Some of these resources are more extensive than others, giving individuals the option to learn C# for as long as they’re willing to put in the hours. While not everyone has the time and focus to commit to self-teaching, tutorials and videos can help those who are committed. Downsides to self-teaching include lack of mentorship, lack of team building and soft skills development, and a strong requirement for self-discipline.
For some, it may be difficult to establish a structure and schedule that promotes an environment to learn C#. And with the vast amount of C# content out there, some individuals may become overwhelmed. In these cases, universities, private schools, and independent courses offer opportunities to learn C# and begin writing. While these options provide the structure to effectively and systematically learn a new language, they can be expensive and time consuming. A university degree, for example, usually takes four years to complete and can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Technology Training Organizations
Another option to learn tech skills such as C# programming is to join a technology talent organization that fulfills two primary goals: developing individuals’ tech skills through formal training, and helping organizations fill their open positions. With Revature’s hire-train-deploy model, students are paid on the job as they receive training from experts. Following training, Revature associates are placed in positions with partnering tech companies. Individuals at every level, including those who have already completed their college education, can take advantage of this model to help with their career transition or advancement.
C# Exercises and Quizzes
Practice is essential when learning C#. With C# exercises and quizzes, you can advance your knowledge and become highly familiar with C#. The following resources may be helpful.
If you want know more about how to learn C#, you’ll need to develop an understanding of .NET framework. C# can run multiple platforms using .NET Core, a part of the Windows .NET framework. This make C# a flexible programming language to build applications for Windows, Linux, and macOS platforms.
C# is also a general-purpose language, which means it can be used across different application domains as well. General-purpose means C# is not designed with specialized features for a particular domain, such as a domain-specific language.
Another topic to understand is the framework ASP.NET. C# can be used to develop web pages and web apps on ASP.NET. C# programmers can use ASP.NET to create Web Application Program Interfaces (APIs) to dynamically serve data to website users, which means interaction with servers is greatly reduced, which creates faster experiences for users.
As part of a C# syllabus, you will benefit from knowing how to use the Unity Game Engine for game development. An understanding of Visual Studio or Xamarin, an open-source mobile app platform, is essential for using C# for mobile development. C# can also be used to create machine learning applications, so knowing how to use ML.NET, an open-source, cross-platform machine learning framework, is useful.
Become a High-Demand Programmer
The technology skills gap means employers are actively looking to hire candidates with strong tech skills, including programming languages such as C#. C# can be an ideal and important programming language to learn. It can help boost the toolkit of existing programmers and help beginners enter the programming and coding fields.
Revature is focused on creating career pathways for job seekers from diverse experiences and educational backgrounds. Revature associates can learn essential in-demand tech skills plus key soft skills while earning compensation.
Learn more about Revature’s innovative approach to preparing the next generation of tech professionals.