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Book Reviews

Book Reviews

Murach's Beginning Visual Basic .NET
Ms. Prince's goal in writing this book is to teach beginners how to develop simple but complete Windows applications. She shows users how to code, test, and debug their applications as well. The book is divided into five sections. The first section teaches you how to code and test object-oriented programs. The second section teaches you how to develop graphical user interfaces. The third section introduces you to .NET classes, arrays, structures, and XML. The fourth section touches upon database development using ADO.NET. For the examples in this section, you will need SQL Server or MSDE. The fifth section introduces you to Web Forms and Web services.

This book uses the Murach style of "paired pages," which I really like. Each page is twinned with a facing page that reinforces with additional information the idea presented on the first page.

At the end of each chapter, there are a number of informational sections. The first section presents a perspective that places the chapter in its proper context. There is a summary of the main ideas, a list of new terms, and a listing of the objectives covered in the chapter. Finally there is a series of practical examples that reinforce the topics covered in the chapter with suggestions on how to broaden the application.

The book is sprinkled with suggestions on how to develop your code in a professional manner. For example, when discussing starting an application from a main procedure, she points out that you can use that procedure to catch unhandled exceptions thrown anywhere within the application. I wish she had gathered these ideas and placed them in an appendix.

Section 3's discussion of XML, Section 4's presentation of database programming using ADO.NET, and Section 5's presentation of Web applications and services really only scratch the surface. I hope Ms. Prince will expand these topics into another book. In addition, it would be nice to see an advanced follow-up to this book that would develop a full-blown, real-world application using the Murach format.

I found the book easy to read, with well thought-out charts, figures, and examples. This book will give you a good foundation in developing professional VB. NET Windows applications.

Beginning ASP.NET 1.0 with Visual Basic .NET
When I saw the title, I wondered, "beginning ASP.NET what?" I wanted to understand exactly what this book was intended to convey. I went to the Wrox Web site and found this statement:

This book is aimed at relatively inexperienced Web builders who are looking to enrich their sites with dynamically generated content, and want to learn how to start building Web applications using ASP.NET. Developers who have a little experience with previous versions of ASP (and are looking to move over to ASP.NET) may also find this book helpful in getting a simple grasp on what ASP.NET is, what it does, and how it can be used....We'll be teaching the basics of VB.NET in this book, so prior experience of the language is not required.... By the end of the book you'll be able to create, manage, and secure ASP.NET Web sites of your own devising. This book is for people who are migrating onto the .NET Framework from other technologies. We assume a small amount of HTML knowledge. But nothing more.

These goals sounded great, but I was hesitant. On the one hand, I have read other Wrox books by David Sussman and John Kauffman and have a lot of respect for these authors. On the other hand, I was concerned about the sheer number of authors involved in writing this book. Unless there is a very good editor to smooth the edges such a book can be very choppy and inconsistent, which was the case here. For example, an early chapter in the book states that it will not cover custom controls and yet several chapters later there is a discussion of custom controls.

I came to the conclusion that the authors had met only some of their goals. The book gives you a pretty good idea of the theory behind ASP.NET and how things work behind the scenes, but even there it is not complete. For example, in the chapter on debugging (which is a very good chapter) there is no discussion of how to use the debugger provided for in the .NET Framework SDK. In the chapter on Web services there are no examples of how to use the service with HTTP GET or HTTP PUT.

On the positive side, I like the idea of having follow-up exercises in each chapter. There is a really good practical example of how to modify the calendar control. The chapters on custom controls and user controls are well developed and practical as well, but by and large the book left me unfulfilled. Overall, I was disappointed because the book did not reach its stated goals.

Title: Murach's Beginning Visual Basic .NET
Author: Anne Prince
Publisher: Mike Murach & Associates
ISBN: 1890774154
List Price: $49.50
Language: VB.NET
Development Tool: Visual Studio .NET or Visual Basic .NET
Rating: *****
Reviewer: Steven Mandel

Title: Beginning ASP.NET 1.0 with Visual Basic .NET
Authors: Wrox Author Team
Publisher: Wrox
ISBN: 1861007337
List Price: $39.99
Language: VB .NET
Development Tool: Text editor
Rating: ***
Reviewer: Steven Mandel

More Stories By Steven Mandel

Steven Mandel has worked in the IT industry for over 15 years designing databases using Microsoft Access and SQL Server. He has developed Web and Windows applications using VB.NET and has written numerous articles and reviews about ASP.NET and VB.NET.

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