C#: Setting Things Up


Every journey has a beginning. Learning a new language is no exception. It will take time, dedication and lots, lots of coffee. Today I set myself up for success. C#, here I go.

Motivated to embark on this new journey of learning, I look at my trusty desk and ask myself: Do I have everything I need to start smoothly?
Let’s see…

  • Inspiration?… Check!
  • Computer?… Check!
  • Comfy Chair?… Check!
  • Coke?… Check!
  • Pizza?… Check!
  • Pumpkins?… Check!
  • Visual Studio?… Ah, looks like that one’s missing!

Microsoft Visual Studio is what we use to do stuff in C#. Visual Studio is an IDE, or Integrated Development Environment. Simplistically, it’s an application we use to build other applications. Visual Studio comes in many flavours and price tags, yet fortunately Microsoft also provides us with a free version, called Visual Studio Express, which offers us all we need to learn C# from the ground up and get the ball rolling.

If you’re lucky enough to already have a professional version of Visual Studio, by all means use it. In this blog however, I’ll keep all examples compatible with Visual Studio Express, as that’s really all we need to learn some good C#.

How do I get Visual Studio Express ?

If I type Visual Studio Express on a web browser I’m almost guaranteed to be shown the download website in the first results page, if not in the first result itself. I can also go to the resources page and follow the download link from there.

Google Search Visual Studio Express

When I click on that link, I find myself on a page presenting the different flavours of Visual Studio Express. Since the objective for me now is to learn the C# language itself, I won’t need all the bells and whistles required for App, Web or Phone development just yet. All I really need is an IDE that enables some good coding right here on the desktop.

This makes Visual Studio Express for Windows Desktop the obvious choice, I’m going to go ahead and download it.

Download Visual Studio Express

Hmm, choices, choices. I’m now presented with two ways to download Visual Studio:

  • Install Now
  • DVD5 ISO Image

If I click on Install Now, a small downloader program will run and check my computer for required dependencies and download those too before installing Visual Studio Express itself. This is the easiest way to do it if I only want to install Visual Studio Express on a single computer quickly, which happens to be the case. However, if I were planning to install Visual Studio Express on multiple computers, or perhaps on a computer without internet access, I could also download an ISO image of the full installer and avoid having to re-download it every time. This would require me to mount the image as a virtual disk, so it’s a bit more involved. I’m going to do it the easy way this time and choose Install Now.

Download Visual Studio Express

OK, here comes the catch. But no need to panic, it’s a very small catch, really. I have to Sign In using a Microsoft account to download Visual Studio Express. Microsoft does keep tabs on their downloads. Hey, to be fair, I would too in their place, so I can’t complain. I already have a Microsoft account, so I’m going to go and type my details in the form. If I didn’t have one though, I would have to Sign Up for a new account by clicking on the link at the bottom of the form. This is a very straightforward process so I won’t cover it here.

Sign In To Microsoft Account

Almost there! Finally I get to the download link, which is the big blue box on the left. Microsoft takes the opportunity here to make me aware of the Ultimate edition of Visual Studio. Who knows, maybe someday, when I’m working with a big gaming studio on the next Final Fantasy, that’s the one I’ll be downloading. Hey, I can dream, can’t I? Dreaming doesn’t pay tax. Yet. Still, for now I’m only interested in the Express (as in free) edition, so I click on the left box instead.

Finally Download Visual Studio Express

And voilĂ . The browser asks me whether I want to run the installer or save it somewhere for future use. Because I just want to get this done quickly, I click on the Run button to start the installation process.

Run Visual Studio Express Installer From Internet Explorer

Just one more step to go before I can celebrate with some tasty pumpkin juice and a refreshing ice-cream. Hmm… Ice-cream. All there is left now is to kick off the installation process for Visual Studio Express. I do that by checking I agree to the License Terms and Privacy Policy and finally the unusually huge Install button at the bottom of the form.

Install Visual Studio Express

The setup process now begins, so while the installer is busy checking dependencies and downloading more files, I’m going to go and grab myself a good slice of pizza. Pepperoni maybe. When I’m back, a success window greets me and allows me to Launch my brand new shiny installation of Visual Studio Express, which I promptly do.

Visual Studio Express Installed

Welcome to Visual Studio, I say to myself. This will be my home during this awesome journey of learning some serious C#. Perhaps I’ll change the theme. I wonder if it comes in pumpkin red?

Launched Visual Studio Express

Now that might have seemed quite the collection of hoops to jump through, but it was worth it. I am now ready to start writing my very first C# programs and watch them fly. Before that however, I’m going to take some time to fully understand the software I have installed and what exactly I can do with it or not. This will be the topic of my next post.

Photo by Mark Walker