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How to Learn C#

James Gallagher - August 05, 2022


Have you ever wanted to develop a game? Or create a website? Or develop applications for a Windows computer? If so, learning C# is a great investment of your time.

C# is an essential part of many of the technologies you use on Windows. For instance, C# powers many Windows background services, Microsoft’s .Net powers websites and Windows games are written using the Unity framework.

This guide will discuss the best way to learn C# online. We’ll walk you through a set of tips you can use to help guide your journey toward learning how to code in C#.

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What is C#?

C#, which is pronounced as “C sharp,” is a programming language that was originally designed for Windows. The C# language was designed based on C and C++ and uses the object-oriented programming paradigm to offer a developer-friendly experience.

The C# programming language is a high-level programming language, which means it uses a more simple syntax than other languages like C++. C# abstracts away most of the machine-level code, so you can focus more on programming. The C# language is good for beginners for these reasons.

The C# language is used by the Unity engine to make games, the .Net framework to create websites, and more broadly for Windows application development.

Why Should You Learn C#?

C# has a good learning curve

The name for the C# language was based on that of the C language. C# was designed to be an improvement on C. Although the name may be similar to C and C++, C# is often seen to have a shallow learning curve.

C# is an object-oriented language, which means that it uses classes and objects to structure data. This programming paradigm allows you to reduce repetition in your code and better control how data is structured. For beginners, object-oriented languages are often preferred for these reasons.

In addition, C# checks code when it is compiled and throws errors if there is a problem in your work. This can help you more easily identify errors in your work, and quickly iterate as you learn more about coding in C#.

C# is backed by Microsoft

The C# language was originally developed by Microsoft, and to this day it

This is important for a couple of reasons. First, it means that there is no shortage of great developer resources out there that you can use to help you master C#. Second, because Microsoft uses C# so heavily, there is little chance that this programming language will fall out of favor in the near future. So, learning C# is a good long-term investment.

The language has been in development for around 20 years, and it is constantly being updated.

Popular development tools like Visual Studio and Unity are based on C#. This means that it even less unlikely that this tool will see any significant decline in popularity any time soon. Deprecating C# would involve these tools having to move their code bases to another language which does not happen often.

C# developers earn high salaries

What do the salary prospects look like for people who know C#?

In the case of C#, there is only one word we can use to describe the salary prospects for skilled developers: favorable.

According to Glassdoor, the average C# .Net developer commands a salary of $68,524 per year – that’s a large amount even for a job in tech. In addition, the average lead C# .Net developer earns a salary of $83,000, which shows that over time your skills will become even more valuable.

When reflecting on these statistics, one thing becomes clear: learning how to code in C# can have a significant impact on your salary.

What is C# Used For?

C# is a general-purpose programming language. This means it has a wide range of uses. C# is used for programming applications for the Windows operating system and it is the language upon which the .NET Framework was built.

Another common use of C# is for game development. Unity, one of the most popular game engines in the world, was built to support C#.

What’s more is that C# is used for server-side web development. This is because .NET is built in with C#. .NET is used to create dynamic web pages and power the back-end of a website.

How Long Does it Take to Learn C#?

It will take you about two to three months to learn the basics of C#, assuming you devote an hour or so a day to learning. You may learn C# quicker if you study part-time or full-time.

But, don’t let this figure mislead you. If you want to become a professional developer who codes in C#, you’ll need to spend a lot more time with the language. It typically takes at least a year to develop a firm understanding of C# that will get you far in a professional setting.

Your learning journey will never be over. There will always be something new for you to learn. But, after a few months, you should have the knowledge you need to build some powerful applications by yourself.

The Best Way to Learn C#

So, you’re thinking to yourself: “Learning C# sounds like a good idea.” That’s great. But now you will likely be asking: “How do you actually learn to code in C#?”

To help you answer this question, we’re going to break it down into two parts. First, we’ll discuss the high-level skills that you need to master. Then, we will talk about learning methods.

How to Learn C# Free

C# is a powerful language and there’s no doubt it has a lot of uses. But before you go on to building complex video games or websites, you’ll need to master the basics of coding in C#.

Once you’ve learned the basics, you’ll have a solid foundation of knowledge you can later use to explore more advanced topics. When you know the basic syntax for C#, you’ll never need to learn it again.

Let’s explore the main topics that you need to learn about to master C#.

Syntax and Variables

Syntax is the basic set of rules and procedures that guide how you code. Before you go on further, you’ll need to master the syntax for C#.

The next step in your journey will be to learn about variables. These are used to store data in a program. Here are the main topics related to syntax and variables that you’ll need to learn:

  • How to create a C# program
  • How to receive user input
  • How to write comments
  • How to declare a variable
  • What data types can be used with variables
  • How to convert the data type used by a variable

Loops and Conditionals

Loops allow you to automate repetitive tasks in a program. They are useful because they allow you to reuse similar code multiple times instead of repeating code manually in your program.

Conditionals allow you to control the flow of your program. They run certain code when a set of conditions is met in your program. This gives you greater control over when certain parts of a program are run.

The main topics you should explore related to loops and conditionals are:

  • If and else statements
  • Comparison operators
  • Boolean data type
  • Logical operators
  • Truth tables
  • For loops and the for each statement

Methods and Arrays

A method is a type of function that groups together a block of code and performs a specific action in a program. For instance, a method could add two numbers together or go through a list and print each item to the console. Methods are the building blocks of code in C#.

An array is a method of storing lists of data in C#. For instance, an array could store data on a list of fruits sold at a fruit stand.

Here are the main topics related to methods and arrays that you should master:

  • How to define a method
  • How to call a method
  • Method parameters
  • Parameters vs. arguments
  • Method overloading
  • What is an array
  • How to access items in an array
  • How to change items in an array

Classes and Objects

C# is an object-oriented programming language and it relies on classes and objects to determine the structure of data in a program.

Classes are like blueprints that define how a set of data should be structured. For instance, a class may define all the data that a user’s account can store in a banking application. Objects, on the other hand, are individual instances of a class. So an object may contain the account information for a specific customer based on the bank account class blueprint.

The main topics you should know about related to classes and objects are:

  • What is a class
  • What is an object
  • Fields and properties
  • Public vs. private access modifiers
  • Constructors
  • this keyword
  • Overloading constructors
  • The dot notation

Inheritance and Interfaces

Inheritance is a feature of object-oriented programming that allows you to create a class based on existing ones. Interfaces allow you to enforce certain properties on a class.

Both these features can help you reduce repetition in your code and write more efficient and readable programs. The main topics you should master are:

  • What is an interface
  • How to build an interface
  • How to test an interface
  • Parent and child classes
  • How to create a parent class
  • The inherited keyword
  • Accessing inherited members using base
  • Overriding inherited members of a class

Once you’ve mastered these basic topics, you’ll be ready to take the next step in your journey: building projects. Ideally, you’ll want to start building projects as soon as you can, even as you are learning these concepts. This will help you reinforce your knowledge and practice the theory that you have learned in class.

In addition, once you’ve learned the basics, you can go on to learn frameworks like .Net or explore the Unity game engine.

Learn C# Online Resources

Because there are so many great resources out there on how to learn C#, it can be difficult to know where to begin.

The answer to that question lies in your learning style. Do you like online tutorials? Or do you prefer to read a book? Do you want to learn in a classroom-based environment or do you prefer working at your own pace? Whatever your learning style is, you should try to anchor the materials toward that style so you stay engaged.

Online C# Courses

Introduction to C# Programming and Unity

  • Price: Free
  • Audience: Beginners

This course is for people who want to build video games using C# and Unity on either Windows or Mac. Unity is one of the most popular game engines and is a valuable industry skill.

In this course, you’ll learn the basics of C# and object-oriented programming. You’ll work toward building a game that reinforces the skills you have learned in the course.

Learn C# by Codecademy

  • Price: Free
  • Audience: Beginners

This course covers the fundamental programming features in the C# language. Expect to learn everything from how to declare a variable all the way to using references and writing LINQ queries.

C# Fundamentals

  • Price: Free
  • Audience: Beginners

C# Fundamentals introduces learners to the basic syntax of C#. You’ll learn how to write a program in C# and you’ll venture on to discuss .NET. Toward the end of the course, you’ll learn about object-oriented programming and how it applies to C#.

Online C# Books

C# Programming Yellow Book by Rob Miles

This book is used by the University of Hull to teach the first year of their computer science course. In this book, you’ll cover all the basics of C#. You will learn about data processing, solving problems with C#, and the syntax behind C#.

This book includes some more advanced examples so that you can push your knowledge.

Fundamentals of Computer Programming with C#

This book is an excellent introduction to the C# programming language. The book is over 1000 pages long so there’s plenty of material to learn.

You’ll start with a detailed introduction to programming and then you’ll slowly work your way through all of the fundamental aspects of C#.

Learn C# in One Day

Unlike other books which go into significant depth on various aspects of C#, this book takes another approach. It aims to teach you the basics of C# in as little time as possible.

This book only covers what you need to know to write a simple program in C#. It is great for people who have little to no experience with programming or C#.

Online C# Resources

Microsoft C# Tutorials

C# was developed by Microsoft, so it makes sense the company has been active in writing documentation and learning resources for the language.

On the Microsoft website, you’ll find a stockpile of great tutorials that you can use to learn C#. For instance, Microsoft has a list of videos and articles to help you learn C# on their .Net website .

Microsoft C# Documentation

You can also learn from Microsoft’s C# guide in the language’s documentation, which is a great starting point for beginners. The Microsoft C# guide covers all the basic principles of C# that you’ll need to know to code an application using the language.

LearnCS.org

LearnCS.org is a basic introduction on how to code in C#. You’ll cover all the basics from arrays and dictionaries to variables and data types. This guide is under construction so you can expect to see more updates in the future.

Go to Coding Bootcamp

If you’re looking for a more immersive learning experience, attending a coding boot camp can be a great option.

At a coding boot camp, you’ll master all the skills you need to pursue a career in tech that uses C#. By the end of boot camp, you will have a portfolio of projects that showcase your skills. You’ll also be able to access career support services to help start your journey to a career in tech.

To learn more about coding schools that teach C#, check out our boot camp directory. In our directory, we have lists of schools that not only teach coding more broadly, but also schools that focus specifically on C#.

Build a Project

Learning from tutorials can only take you so far; after you’ve mastered the basics, you should start working on your own projects.

Working on projects is a great way to learn because they allow you to apply the theories that you have learned. This can help with boosting retention. You’ll have to think about both the concepts you have learned and how they apply to the specific project that you’re building.

To start, you should focus on building a few basic projects. This will help you get used to working on independent work that you’ve chosen. Then, when you’re ready, you can move your attention toward bigger projects.

If you’re stuck for inspiration, ask yourself the question: “What problems do I frequently encounter?” This will help you get into the mindset of thinking about new ideas.

Here are a few examples of starter projects you could build using C#:

  • A login page for a game
  • An app that stores a list of trading cards that you collect
  • A ticketing application for teams
  • A program that helps you archive your files
  • An app to share clips from your favorite podcasts

If you’re looking to build a game with C#, then you must first come up with concept ideas. All you need to do is rack your mind for answers to the question: “what is my dream game?” Do remember that you should start small.

Once you’ve finished your first project, keep going. Build another one and make it more technically complex than your last one, if you feel like you are ready. Or, you could add new features to an existing project. This will help you get into the mindset of “how can I improve my work”, which will allow you to learn C# faster.

Join a Developer Community

Learning to code is not a journey you should take in solitude. On the contrary, you should try to expose yourself to as many other developers as possible.

Joining a developer community should be high on your list of priorities when learning how to code. Developer communities are hubs for developers to come together, help each other, and discuss technical and non-technical questions.

When you join a community, you’ll be able to ask questions to other developers. You’ll be able to your support when you can and, in the process, get a greater sense of the C# developer ecosystem.

Are you unsure which communities to join? Here is a list of a few communities that are great for C# beginners:

  • C# on Discord : The C# community on Discord is a group of developers who have come together to discuss C#. In the community, you can ask questions, seek feedback on your work, and help others whenever possible.
  • .Net Blog : The .Net blog, while not exactly a community, is a great source of information for all .Net developers, and is worth a follow.
  • Stack Overflow : Stack Overflow is a website used by developers around the world to ask and answer programming questions. There are many great questions on Stack Overflow related to C# already. If you have your own, you can always post it to the platform.

Your first priority when joining a developer community should be to find ways to contribute. Ask yourself: How can I make this community a better place? Do you have a question to ask? Great, post it in a community. Can you help another developer? If so, extend your support.

If you’re looking for more communities for C# developers, check out Microsoft’s list of C# communities .

Practice Your C# Skills

Practice, practice, practice. This principle is so important that it cannot be repeated enough.

Coding is a skill, and like any skill, the more you practice, the better you’ll get. Although you may feel somewhat unnerved by the complexity of C# at first, these feelings will dissipate. You’ll become more comfortable working with the language.

Practice is so important when it comes to coding because you’ll inevitably make mistakes. The only way that you’ll learn from them is to keep working hard and figuring out ways to improve your work. And, over time, you’ll develop a mental catalog of errors and mistakes you have seen, which will help you become a more effective programmer.

How often should you practice? That’s up to you, but when you’re getting started, it is best to try to fit in as much practice as you can. If possible try to code daily or at least a few times a week. This will reduce the likelihood that you forget about coding and stop working on projects.

How to Learn C#: Practice Ideas

If you’re looking for creative ways to practice, here are a few ideas:

  • Create a project. Building a project is a great way to learn how to code in C#. Think about an idea, then try to build it with the skills you have acquired.
  • Participate in a hackathon. Hackathons are contests where people come together to build a project in a short period of time. Participating in a hackathon is a great way to meet other developers who have varying levels of skills in the languages you know.
  • Take on a coding challenge. On sites like Codewars and Coderbyte, you can find coding challenges that have been written to help people refine their knowledge of coding. These sites often have challenges specifically for C# developers, which you can use to level up your skills.

Keep practicing, and before you know it you’ll be a master at coding in C#.

Wrapping up

C# may be an older programming language than others, but it is still widely used today. And, it has an active developer community. If you want to build games for Windows, build websites using .Net, or just create an app for a Windows device, knowing C# is useful.

In summary, here are the main steps you should take in order to learn C# fast:

  • Research and follow learning resources
  • Master the basics
  • Work on projects
  • Join a developer community
  • Practice your C# skills

By following these steps, you’ll be able to start your journey to learning how to code in C# on a great footing. And, if you work hard, you’ll become an expert at C# in no time!



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James Gallagher

About the author: James Gallagher is a self-taught programmer and the technical content manager at Career Karma. He has experience in range of programming languages and extensive expertise in Python, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. James has written hundreds of programming tutorials, and he frequently contributes to publications like Codecademy, Treehouse, Repl.it, Afrotech, and others.

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