Category Archives: Book Review

Book Review: C# 2008 and 2005 Thread Programming (Beginner’s Guide)

Just recently – in May 2009 – I gave two lectures on Multithreading with C# for Desktop Applications. I found there are quite a few books available that cover the .NET Thread class when talking about Windows programming in general, but the book C# 2008 and 2005 Threaded Programming: Beginner’s Guide is only about, well, Multithreading with C#. The subtitle Exploit the power of multiple processors for faster, more responsive software also states that both algorithmic parallelization as well as the separation of computation from a graphical user interface (GUI) is covered in here, and this is exactly what I was looking for. The book is clearly marked as a Beginner’s Guide and is well-written for that aspect, so if you already know about Multithreading and just want to learn about how to do this with C#, you might find the book to proceed too slowly. If you are uncertain or clearly new to this subject, then this book might do it’s job very well for you.

Chapters one and two start with a brief motivation of why the shift towards multicore processors has such an important influence on how software has to be designed and written nowadays and also contain a brief description of the typical pitfalls you may run into when parallelizing software. Chapter three describes the BackgroundWorker component, which is the simplest facility to separate the computation from the user interface in order to keep it responsible. Chapters four and five cover the most important aspects of the Thread class as well as how to use Visual Studio to debug multithreaded programs. Chapters six to nine describe how to apply parallelization to a range of common problems and design cases, for example howobject-oriented features of C# and the garbage collector of .NET play along with the Thread class and what to take care for when doing Input/Output and Data Access. Chapter ten explains in detail how GUIs and Threads work together (or not) and how to design you GUI and your application to report progress to the GUI from threads, for example. When doing so there are some rules one has to obey and I found the issues that I was not aware of before very well-explained. Chapter eleven gives a brief overview of the .NET Parallel Extensions – which will be part of .NET 4.0 – such as the Parallel class and PLINQ. The final chapter twelve tries to put all things together into a single application.

Most aspects of Multithreading with C# are introduced by first stating a problem / motivation (with respect to the example code), then showing the solution in C# code and discussing the effects of it and finally explaining the concept in some more detail, if needed. The two example codes, a text message encryption and decryption software and an image analysis tool, are consistently extended with the new features that have been introduced. I personally did not like that there is so much example code shown in the book, although people new to Multithreading might find studying the source code helpfull. With a strong focus on explaining and discussing example the book is not well-suited as a reference, but it does not say to do so. Actually I think that once you are familiar with certain aspects of Multithreading with C#, MSDN does a good job of serving as a reference.

The book is published by Packt Publishing and has been released in January 2009. The price of about 30 Euro for about 420 pages at amazon.de in Germany is affordable for students, I think. Regards to Radha Iyer at Packt Publishing for making this book available for me in time.

Radha Iyer