This book is not a reference. That needs to be said right off the bat. It was written to be read cover to cover; it tells a story. It's an interwoven tale about object-oriented programming in the .NET world: building objects, moving them, and using them around the world. This is not just a how-to book; it's a why-to and a when-to book as well.
You will encounter many twists and turns ahead. Expect to learn the unexpected, but do not expect Visual Studio .NET. It didn't come out until a year after I got the .NET beta for the first time. Everything in this book is very hands-on, so if you're afraid you might chip a nail, turn back now. If you like being under the hood, though, you will feel right at home.
I started preparing for this book so long ago that it's not even funny. I actually have some old, crusty .doc files that refer to "Cool." That's what they were going to call C# before they called it C#. I'm not joking. This book began its life when most of the other .NET books began theirs shortly after the Microsoft Professional Developer's Conference in 2000. Now, two years later, someone is finally reading it. Hopefully, you will see that it wasn't rushed to market. I have thought about everything in this book very carefully and have spent about a year and a half of my free time putting it together.
Why? I'm on a mission. Several, in fact. My main purpose is to provide an alternative to the big, fat reference book (especially the ones written by more than one author). I love reading books about programming especially skinny books about computing that assume I am not an idiot. My goal is to write these kinds of books. I assume you know what HTTP, XML, and SOAP stand for. To me, that means something.
My second mission is to give all my readers a .NET epiphany. I remember talking to my editor Ron on the phone a couple of years ago. "Whaddya mean there's no COM?" I said. Shortly after the phone call, I received my first beta of .NET in the mail. The sheer size and depth of it stunned me. A super-secret, subterranean coding army must have been at work! I will never know how Microsoft managed to have something of this scope back then (that nobody knew about). My first goal was to "get it." I am still learning about .NET two years later, but now I "get it." I wasn't able to present everything under the sun in this book, but I think you'll also "get it" by the time you finish reading it.
My third mission is to make loads of cash. I remember a time when I sat around trying to think of how I could get a job that paid minimum wage in addition to all my contract work. I had too much of a social life back then, and all the time with my friends and family was really killing me. I found that I wasn't spending enough quality time in front of the computer. Then it hit me: "I'll write programming books!" I haven't slept since.