What is the best/fastest way to go from 0-60 regarding my knowledge of ASP.NET?
October 8, 2006 7:45 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to learn ASP.NET, with two objectives: (1) redesign an MSAccess application used to track incoming calls and emails for a call center, and (2) use the knowledge as a base to obtain a development job within my company. Given the cacaphony of resources to learn, what should I spend my money/time on? Are there any "bibles" of ASP.NET development?

Work background: I work for a fortune 100 company, and provide business support (identify defects, prioritize them based on input from the business) for our B2B procurement application. I want to write code for said application, which is mainly using ASP.NET.

Personal background: I have a few years of college under my belt (no degree), as well as a few years of recreational C++, Java, and VB programming. My ASP experience is limited to looking at the examples on w3schools.com.

Due to my lack of experience, I am not a very good programmer at this point. However, I have excellent research/reading skills(thank you, high school debate..), so my code ends up doing what I want it to. What skills do I need beyond Googlefu and general intelligence to get a corporate dev position?
posted by negative1 to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: How comfortable are you at ramping up on new technologies? If you're good to go at just diving in, I would recommend the non-beginning books (Two that I've liked are Professional ASP.NET 2.0 and Pro ASP.NET 2.0 in C# 2005), as the beginning books tend to be a bit light on details (which will get you to, say, 0-30 relatively quickly), and then you'll find yourself wanting to grab some more in-depth books anyway.

Given that you have some development background in C++ and Java, I would recommend choosing an ASP.NET book that's centric to C# (as opposed to VB.NET). C# is very analagous to Java in its structures, syntax, and development model, so it shouldn't be a high bar of entry from there.

It's probably better that you haven't amassed a lot of experience with classic ASP, as ASP.NET is quite a departure from it. It's definitely its own animal, and as such I would recommend starting with books; I've been doing ASP.NET development for a few years now, and it still takes me a while to dig through a lot of MSDN documentation to figure stuff out if I've gotten off the beaten path. MSDN documentation is not what I'd call a friendly starting place for learning about ASP.NET technology.

What skills do I need beyond Googlefu and general intelligence to get a corporate dev position?

Of course, all of my suggestions above are centric to ASP.NET. Whether or not that will be enough to land you a dev position depends a lot on the situation in the company you're working for. If they're looking for someone with senior development experience, you may not be the right guy. If they have more junior positions available on the project, or if it's generally more of an informal development effort (which can be the case at companies where software development is not the main revenue stream), I'd say learning the technology and utilizing it in some actual projects (your own or as a collaboration on others') should be enough to get your foot in the door, given that it sounds like you already work closely with the people involved.

I'd say, 1) pick up a good ASP.NET book, read, and start playing with the technology, then 2) check out Sourceforce.net, search for ASP.NET projects, and find one where you can jump in. Also, you may want to talk to the dev lead on your company's project, as he/she may be able to give you more information on what kind of resources are needed, which in turn would give you more specific goals to set your sights on.
posted by Brak at 9:49 PM on October 8, 2006

Oops...I forgot about your MSAccess conversion project you mentioned, which is probably a better step 2 for you than a Sourceforge project, if it's something you're already familiar with.
posted by Brak at 9:52 PM on October 8, 2006

Karl Moore has a brilliant VB tutorials book as well as an ultimates book. Both are very good, plus he's really funny. I highly recommend his books.
posted by mezzanayne at 11:45 PM on October 8, 2006

I'd recommend learning Ruby On Rails. You'll get your app done in half the time and you'll learn something interesting along the way.

Here are 5 reasons to use Ruby On Rails:
  • It's fresh and new, which means there won't always be a whole bunch of people better than you
  • It takes less code to build your app in Rails, meaning it's easier to understand
  • You can deliver your app in less time, and deliver a functional prototype in no time at all
  • It just makes programming so much FUN!
  • It's free. All you need is a text editor and you've got your development environment!

posted by xpermanentx at 5:04 AM on October 9, 2006

I really like Fritz Onion's Essential ASP.NET book, available in both VB.NET and C# flavors, it might be too programmery for you though.
posted by nomad at 8:54 AM on October 9, 2006

Best answer: Having self-taught ASP.NET, my most valuable book by far has been ASP.NET Developer's Cookbook. I love it because you can look up help based on what you want to do ("Data-binding to a DropDownList" or "Requiring authentication to access files and folders"), not the class you use to do it. Plus, it's very readable. Of course, if you use Visual Studio for your development, I'm not sure how useful this book will be.

I've also found that the 4GuysFromRolla site has many excellent tutorials with examples.
posted by geeky at 10:03 AM on October 9, 2006

4 guys is pretty good. If you are coming from the non-OO world to the OO world, Utley's intro to VB.NET is a slim little volume that will help.
posted by mrbugsentry at 10:11 AM on October 9, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for your help. Brak, I've gotten a few recommendations for Professional ASP.NET 2.0, so I think I'll start down the road you suggest. To your question, I am very comfortable learning new technologies...all I need is a book that will engage me instead of lecture me.

Geeky, I'll definitely also check out the Dev Cookbook you recommend. I tought myself VBA through the same style you describe, but using Google instead of a book.

I'll report back here with my thoughts when I see what these books are like.
posted by negative1 at 6:21 PM on October 9, 2006

Response by poster: Quick update: I got VS2k5 installed today, and have been futzing around for most of the evening learning the basics of C# and ASP.NET. Over the last few years of using MSAccess, I had forgotten how much easier a good deveopment environment makes, well, everything.

I'm going out to get the books mentioned in this thread sometime in the next few days. Initial reviews coming (probably) this weekend.

This is fairly exciting.
posted by negative1 at 10:42 PM on October 9, 2006

Thought of another useful website for you - ASP.NET FAQ with examples in both VB and C#.
posted by geeky at 12:05 PM on October 10, 2006

Response by poster: I've bought a few books (asp.net pro 2.0 and the asp.net dev cookbook) and have been playing around with VS.NET 2k5 for the last two weeks. At this point I have more than enough resources to figure out the basics/intermediates of asp.net web applications.

Thank you all for your help. AskMe comes through on my first post.
posted by negative1 at 8:36 PM on October 20, 2006

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