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5.0 out of 5 stars The best way into F#, 5 May 2012
This review is from: Programming F# (Animal Guide) (Paperback)
F# is an absolutely fascinating language, but where does one start? I've looked carefully through all the F# books currently available, and in my view this is by far the best introduction to date. It's extremely clear, well organised and, most importantly, well-paced.

If you're at all like me, you'll want to clearly understand everything you read in a programming book in a linear manner. I just hate seeing code examples that muddy the water by incorporating language elements which will only be explained later in the book. Arguably, this practice is almost inevitable given the numerous differences that exist between F# and non-functional programming languages like C#. But it can be minimized, and this is exactly what Chris Smith succeeds (almost) in doing.

Yes, Don Syme's Expert F# 2.0 is superb, but it's not for the F# newbie, and his pedagogical technique isn't quite as good as Smith's. So read this first, and only then sit at the feet of the great mind behind F#! Robert Pickering's Beginning F# is also very good, but I don't agree with the publishers (Apress) that it's a beginner's book; I'd pitch it intermediate. You can also get all these books on the Kindle.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 29 Nov 2010
This review is from: Programming F# (Animal Guide) (Paperback)
This really is a very good book. It is extremely clear with fantastic examples and very thorough.

I come from a C# programming background and this is the first F# book I've read that really covers all the little "what about..." and "how do I..." questions I'd had about F#.

Thoroughly recommended.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent guide, 30 Aug 2010
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This review is from: Programming F# (Animal Guide) (Paperback)
If you are new to functional programming, this book will prove an invaluable guide to lead you through the many peculiarities and change of mindset required to become familiar with the constructs of languages like lisp, scheme, oCaml (languages from which f# is a heir) and, ultimately of f#. It also helps, for the utter newbie, with the installing and everyhing practical, so you never feel "alone."

As usual, you get the expected o'really quality. The author knows his stuff and manages to keep the book a sane length. Over time, one gets tired with the 1200-page C# or Java books, trying to provide examples of all namespaces of the framework, but with this title, if you go through it, you are ready to continue the trip on your own and well-equipped. However, functional programming requires a fundamental change, especially if you are a OO programmer, and this book alone can't teach you polished skills. Functional requires more pouring, more practicing, to gain expertise, and this you will have to do yourself, but this volumen will always be your trusty companion on your desk. Even if you don't plan to actually do some f# in your workplace (or think you will ever have to), you will learn a lot, and I don't see how that can hurt.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good starting point for functional programming in F# for experience programmers, 13 Jan 2011
Mr. J. Cumming (Cheltenham, GLOS United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Programming F# (Animal Guide) (Paperback)
I am currently learning F# as another string to the bow and all that. I got myself a copy of Chris Smith's book Programming F# as part of this, so thought it only right and proper to provide a review. Which has also been added to the amazon web site.

For an introduction to F#, albeit a bit old, check out the links on this old post.

Book Contents
The book starts with the obligatory introduction to the language. The sections on lists were an exception but, as is usually the case, it is only after this section that the book gets interesting as it delves into different programming idioms: functional, imperative and object oriented.

It was specifically as an introduction to functional programming using F# that I bought this book, so it is from this perspective that I shall procede. I won't particularly comment on the imperative and oo sections, but suffice it to say they cover ther expected areas and include areas such as exception handling and oo concepts such as polymorphism through object inheritance. But not the kind of stuff that I bought the book for.

The section on functional programming covers the basics of functional programming including:

Immutability as a protection against unintended side effects, an assist in writing parallel algorithms and generally providing more readable code.
Function Values, including anonymous functions (lambda expressions), currying and returning functions.
Recursive functions, including mutually recursive functions; functions that call each other.
Symbolic Operators via symbolic functions
Function Composition using composition and pipe operators
Pattern matching as a powerful version of the familiar C switch statement
Discriminated unions and Sequences which can be used to represent all kinds of structures and can be recursive.
Skipping the sections on imperative and oo we are now up to Chapter 6 : .NET Programming which shows how to integrate with the .NET framework both as a consumer and provider.

These first 6 chapters really provide a foundation for the next 2 chapters, entitled Applied Functional Programming and Applied Object-Oriented Programming. These chapters then expand on concepts from earlier in the book. The Applied Functional Programming chapter develops pattern matching and lists further before looking in a bit more detail at programming with functions.

Part 2 now picks up with more detail on programming with F# and has a good sections on Asynchronous / Parallel programming and Quotations.

Good Points
This is a book that I have recently bought and as is my usual style I have very briefly flicked through it. It looks like exactly the book I'm looking for as an experienced .NET programmer who is new, not only to F#, but also to functional programmming. The concepts appear laid out clearly and examples are good. I like the fact that it does deal with both functional and oo programming as well as integration with .NET.

Bad Points
To be honest I am not sure yet as I have not started doing real work with F#, so any frustrations will appear over time. I can say howefver that this is probably not going to be a good reference book for F# as a language, or a cookbook of solutions.

I suspect this book will be dipped in and out of as I work with F# and time will tell how useful it is in the real world, but on first glances, this is exactly the riught book if you are new to F# and want to get stuck into developing with it straight away.
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3 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Currently the best book on F#, 20 Feb 2010
G. Short (Dundee, Scotland, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Programming F# (Animal Guide) (Paperback)
I spoke to the author of Programming F# in person at the 2010 Microsoft MVP summit and I asked him if his book sucked. He said it didn't. I've read it, and he's right!
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Programming F# (Animal Guide)
Programming F# (Animal Guide) by Chris Smith (Paperback - 23 Oct 2009)
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