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Murach's ADO.NET 4 Database Programming with C# 2010 (Murach: Training & Reference)
by Anne Boehm, Ged Mead


Mike Murach & Associates
fourth edition
April 2011
756 pages

Reviewed by Rob Spoor, August 2011
  (8 of 10)



The book follows the Murach style - on the left pages there is text, on the right pages there are screen shots, code snippets, and short summaries of the text on the left. For experienced programmers it's tempting to skip the entire left pages and focus on the right pages only.

The book is an excellent source for starting with ADO.NET. It starts with a basic introduction into databases and SQL itself, then ADO.NET. After that comes all the interesting stuff: using data sources, datasets, commands, parameters, transactions - the works. You'll learn to write applications with both direct database access and with three-tier architectures. After the form-based chapters the book repeats a few subjects but this time for ASP.NET, with its specialized controls. The book ends with XML data sources, reporting, LINQ and the Entity Framework. In the end you should be able to use ADO.NET quite well.

The only problem I have with the book is that it sometimes teaches you to use one specific tool - Visual Studio 2010. While that's somewhat understandable, it does mean that users of other tools will not be able to use several chapters. The reporting chapter is the worst, actually requiring the full (non Express) version of Visual Studio 2010.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for writing this review on behalf of CodeRanch.

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for writing this review on behalf of CodeRanch.

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Murach's C++ 2008
by Prentiss Knowlton


Mike Murach & Associates
1 edition
2009
572 pages

Reviewed by Campbell Ritchie, December 2009
  (9 of 10)


C++ 2008 is a new language, using C++ and .NET combined. It has some new features, probably the biggest being its use of the .NET garbage-collected heap; it has an additional operator ^ and keyword gcnew for garbage-collected classes. The language uses properties, a for-each loop, and event handling with delegates, as in C#.

This book follows a common .NET book format, starting with a description of Visual Studio. It then introduces forms, and C++ code and control structures. It uses an object-oriented paradigm, and follows the "late objects" convention (many will know I prefer to introduce objects as early as possible). It shows how to create and enhance an application, with maybe a dozen exercises at the end of each chapter. It covers a wide range, but misses out pointer arithmetic. I was pleased to see exceptions, debugging, Visual Studio help, and the use of older C/C++ code was well covered, and the input validation section was much better than most books.

I thought its most impressive feature is the text, with its simple conversational style, and crystal-clear and easy to read, describing and explaining the associated code. It is a large paperback with clear print and many good illustrations.

I think people reading this book will have a programming background; although the book starts at a basic level, it goes quite fast and a beginner might prefer more detail. The programmer who wants to move to C++ and .NET will find this hard to beat, however.

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Essential C# 2.0
by Mark Michaelis


Addison-Wesley Professional
1 edition
July 2006
768 pages

Reviewed by Jeanne Boyarsky, August 2006
  (10 of 10)


"Essential C#" does for C# what Deitel did for Java. It's great book to learn C# from the ground up or for experienced developers. I was a bit skeptical of the claim that the book is for everyone -- beginners, experienced developers, structured programmers, C/C++/Java developers and C# professionals. However, through a combination of sidebars and text that makes sense on different levels, the author managed to achieve this lofty goal.

This truly is a book for developers. It includes refactoring and other best practices. I especially liked the part on well-formed types and how to properly implement equals. There is a strong emphasis on the language itself, which is great. The first mention of Windows Forms is almost page 600. A nice contrast to those book that teach the language solely through visual editors. The author also gives equal time to the .NET and Mono implementations.

The back cover states the book is "clear and concise." Weighing in at 700 pages, the book does manage to stay true to this claim. Code examples are short and focused. I only found one over a page long. Descriptions are clear, accurate and easy to follow. I strongly recommend this book to any considering working with C#. t really is "Essential" !

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Expert .NET Delivery Using NAnt and CruiseControl.NET
by Marc Holmes


Apress
1 edition
May 2005
400 pages

Reviewed by Lasse Koskela, June 2005
  (6 of 10)


I picked up "Expert .NET Delivery Using NAnt and CruiseControl.NET" as a developer familiar with the original open source projects, Ant and CruiseControl, from the world of Java development. I have been long interested in how "the .NET people" do things even though my personal experience with .NET technologies has been limited to doing a day of training every now and then. From this perspective, I have to say I find a lot of good stuff in this book but it's still missing that something. The author, Marc Holmes, clearly states in the introduction that the book's goal is not to be a comprehensive guide for the tools being used. Instead, his focus has been to show the reader a practical approach to tackling problems involved in "delivering software." I had some difficulty seeing that focus while reading.

The first chapter titled "A Context for Delivery" is actually an excellent albeit short overview of the variety of aspects involved when discussing how to manage software configuration, the build process, and the deployment process. The next couple of chapters introduce the NAnt build tool and its essential built-in tasks. As a tutorial to NAnt, these chapters felt a bit too lightweight. Chapter 2 is an excellent tutorial for getting started with NAnt and chapter 3 briefly enumerates the most important built-in tasks available. These first three chapters were definitely the ones I liked the most.

Chapter 4 presents a simple case study, getting a GUI application for performing XSLT transformations to build with a NAnt script. The author follows through creating the script from scratch, all the way from the classic "clean" target to checking out the project from Visual SourceSafe, incrementing a version counter on assemblies, running automated tests, static analysis, and packaging the build output into a .zip file for deployment. There's some discussion of NAnt features that weren't illustrated in the previous chapters but not much more than that.

Chapter 5, titled "Process Standards", talks about the case study team refactoring their build scripts towards a structure that supports a "standard" build script to be used throughout the company's .NET projects. Very little meat in there. Most of this chapter seemed to present a topic of interest only to move on right away, without giving solutions beyond tiny snippets of NAnt tasks. As someone not familiar with most .NET concepts, I found it very difficult to follow.

Chapter 6 brings continuous integration into the picture. After a brief explanation of why one would want to implement a continuous integration process, Holmes proceeds to describe CruiseControl.NET and how to configure it to build your .NET project. Again, only superficial coverage of the configuration options available which is consistent with the stated goal of the book not being about the tools themselves. Yet, at this point I realized that the good stuff had all been about the tools -- NAnt and (to a smaller degree) CruiseControl.NET. This pattern continued through chapter 7 which talks about extending NAnt with your own custom tasks. In fact, this chapter does a good job in showing the ropes through developing a FxCop task.

Chapter 8 is a good one. It talks about techniques for dealing with the database schema in the context of continuous integration and incremental development. The example scripts do leave a sense of "magic" happening that I would've liked to know more about, but even as such this chapter can be useful for getting started with automated integration of the database alongside the application.

Chapter 9 talks about code generation (with XSLT and CodeSmith) and how to incorporate it into the build process. The examples were a bit difficult to follow and there wasn't much background on the tools (CodeSmith and XSLT) themselves.

To finish off, chapter 10 presents some closing thoughts as a summary for all the things discussed in the body of the book. Good stuff, makes a lot of sense. I find it interesting, though, that beyond the first and last chapters I found very little content that I could associate directly with practical delivery other than from the tool perspective.

As a summary, I consider "Expert .NET Delivery Using NAnt and CruiseControl.NET" to be a nice tutorial for NAnt and CruiseControl.NET. Having said that, a large part of the book seemed to be somewhat disconnected from the stated goal of showing a practical approach to problems in delivering software.

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eXtreme .NET: Introducing eXtreme Programming Techniques to .NET Developers
by Dr. Neil Roodyn


Addison-Wesley Professional
1 edition
December 2004
336 pages

Reviewed by Lasse Koskela, December 2004
  (7 of 10)


Dr. Neil Roodyn's "eXtreme .NET" is a book aiming at showing how to apply the Extreme Programming development techniques to .NET development. The approach is very much example-driven, meaning that the book is full of examples both in the form of programming tasks and dialogs between the members of a fictional .NET development team.

Looking at the table of contents, the book would seem to cover all the essential stuff, including Refactoring, test-driven development, pair programming and testing, as well as some supporting practices such as automated builds. While I enjoyed reading Dr. Roodyn's writing and the content is quite nice a mix indeed, I am still left with this itch that I'm missing something -- I suspect that something is more discussion about the low-level techniques, tools, etc. that I'm so at home with when doing Java. It also might be that while the book focuses so much on the examples with a relatively light overview on the forces driving the practices, I'm feeling like I'm being shown the "what" and "how" but not the "why". Having said that, the examples (both user stories and development tasks as well as the code snippets) used in the book are excellent and well chosen in terms of complexity. Dr. Roodyn managed to avoid the most advanced features of the language of choice, C#, which made my life a lot easier, being new to the platform.

In summary, I wouldn't recommend this book as an introduction to Extreme Programming because it doesn't go down that road far enough. I also wouldn't recommend it as a reference or tutorial for setting up the development environment to support XP because it doesn't cover nearly enough details. I would, however, recommend it to follow up that introductory "generic" XP book a .NET developer should read first. Dr. Roodyn's description of the development process is definitely worth the effort if you're not quite sure about how test-driven development works in practice or about how those stories are broken down to tasks.

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Cross-Platform .NET Development
by M. J. Easton, Jason King


Apress
1 edition
September 2004
560 pages

Reviewed by Eric Pascarello, January 2005
  (9 of 10)


I was not sure about this book when I first picked it up. Cross-platform and .NET Development never seemed to go together in my mind. After digging into the well-written book, I saw how .NET development can be used on multiple systems.

This book has great explanations of how to set up your development environment and what it takes to test code on multiple platforms. The book has a great explanation of the .NET architecture and gives C# code that is explained in great detail.

If you want to know the flexibility of the .NET framework than this book is for you. You should have no trouble understanding and applying the information contained in this book.

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Open Source .NET Development: Programming with NAnt, NUnit, NDoc, and More
by Brian Nantz


Addison-Wesley Professional
unknown edition
August 2004
504 pages

Reviewed by Lasse Koskela, October 2004
  (7 of 10)


Brian Nantz's latest book, "Open Source .NET Development", strikes to me as a controversial title. On one hand, it's a fantastic tour for getting to know what tools you've got at your disposal when journeying into open source development using .NET. However, the depth of many of the chapters on a given tool or topic is a bit too far from what the back cover implies.

There are some very good chapters (the overview chapters, NAnt, NDoc, Log4NET) and some that I felt disappointed with (NUnit, Continuous Integration, DB development, Web development). The chapters that I liked, I really liked. They gave me as a newbie to .NET development a very good handle on how the things I've learned to do with the Java counterparts work in the other side of the fence. On the other hand, the chapters I felt to be too superficial did too much talking and failed to give answers to many questions that came to me while reading. Then again, some of the topics covered are simply too big to even attempt to cover with a single chapter.

I won't hesitate to recommend "Open Source .NET Development" to anyone looking for a picture of what's out there. For a reference, I'm afraid this title alone is not enough.

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Seeing Data: Designing User Interfaces for Database Systems Using .NET
by Rebecca M. Riordan


Addison-Wesley Professional
1 edition
July 2004
544 pages

Reviewed by Eric Pascarello, October 2004
  (9 of 10)


Seeing Data: Designing User Interfaces for Database Systems Using .NET is a must-have if you are having trouble implementing a User Interface (UI) for your application. Riordan explains in great detail all of the major aspects of UI programming, from the basics of what fonts and colors to use, to handling data.

Riordan discusses Windows forms development in her examples. I personally do not use Windows forms, but after reading Riordan's book, I found the concepts to be extremely useful. I plan on applying the core principles that this book expresses to increase the usability of my applications.

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Murach's C# (.Net Developer)
by Eben Hewitt


Mike Murach & Associates
1 edition
April 2004
749 pages

Reviewed by Susan Kappel, January 2005
  (9 of 10)


This book is an excellent introduction for every starting C# programmer but can also be used as a reference for the intermediate programmer that would like to quickly gain specific information.

The chapters are short and self-contained and each subject is clearly explained.

I particularly liked the unconventional format where the page on the right hand page "supported" the subject matter on the left page making extensive use of diagrams and bullet points. It really helped to make thing easier to understand.

The book not only covers most of the c# syntax but also gives a clear explanation about OO and contains a large section about database programming. The exercises are built up in such a way that they force you to think for yourself and they are all focused on real world problems. They really help you understand the subject matter much better, so I suggest you do them all.

I would highly recommend this book not only the starting C# developer but to any developer in general.

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Developing Series 60 Applications: A Guide for Symbian OS C++ Developers
by Leigh Edwards, Richard Barker


Addison-Wesley Professional
1 edition
March 2004
800 pages

Reviewed by Lasse Koskela, April 2004
  (9 of 10)


I picked up this book with the purpose of learning about Symbian development on smart phones and to refresh my C++ grammar. Having heard of other Symbian and Series XX books, I had my doubts regarding the quality of the book's content. As a pleasant surprise, the authors have done a good job in creating a well-structured book that leads a newbie into the world of Series 60 programming.

First of all, as the authors state in the preface, prior knowledge of C++ is a prerequisite for getting the most out of this book. On the other hand, because the APIs use a lot of constructs specific to Series 60 development (e.g. how to allocate memory, how to do I/O, string/descriptor classes, etc.), even a beginner like me can quickly build up basic skills with the sole help of this book and some old-fashioned hard work.

The book starts out with chapters describing the development environment, including basic how-to's for building Series 60 applications with the command-line tools, Microsoft Visual Studio, Metrowerks CodeWarrior, and Borland C++ Builder. Important stuff that could've warranted more attention -- my first gripes with this book.

Next, the authors introduce Symbian/Series 60 specific concepts such as the naming conventions, the new memory allocation scheme and exception handling, descriptors, collection classes, Active Objects (asynchronous services), file I/O, and the client/server architecture that forms the basis for all Symbian applications. I was especially delighted about the clarity of this section although I would've preferred seeing more code snippets.

After introducing the different architectures to choose from (control-based, dialog-based, view-switching), the vast majority of the book is dedicated to describing how particular APIs of the Series 60 platform are used for creating UIs, networking, and manipulating multimedia content. Key system APIs for accessing the phonebook, calendar, etc. application engines are also explained although not in too much detail considering how essential these services can be for many potential applications.

The last chapter also describes some best practices and tools for quality assurance, which is no doubt a useful addition to a book like this (although more attention could've been given to unit testing, which is only mentioned in passing).

I am very satisfied with this book. Even though I would've wanted more sample code and more detail in many parts of the book (the authors refer to sample applications distributed along with the Series 60 SDKs, which was a bit annoying), this book is packed with information and the content is well balanced as a whole. I won't be looking around for another Symbian/Series 60 book now that I've got this one.

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Effective Software Test Automation
by Kanglin Li, Mengqi Wu


Sybex
1 edition
February 2004
400 pages

Reviewed by Jeanne Boyarsky, April 2004
  (7 of 10)


Effective Software Test Automation walks the reader through building an automated testing tool in C#.

The book describes its target audience as intermediate to advanced programmers. This is accurate since some of the examples get quite complex, such as reflection. The book provides a quick overview of C# for programmers that know other languages. As someone who does not know C#, I found this overview sufficient for understanding the book. The book also gives step-by-step instructions on how to follow the examples using Visual Studio .NET.

The authors state that the concepts in this book can be applied to other languages, such as Java. While this is true, many of the examples are .NET specific. One of the chapters covers testing the Windows Registry. Other chapters cover how to use .NET to accomplish reflection, testing spreadsheets, etc.

The testing tool that ends up being developed is similar to a subset of commercial tools, like Insure++. The tool developed by the book looks as if it could be a good open source tool for C#. If you are a C# developer, it is worth buying the book for the source code alone. The book could be used as a user guide (or developer guide if you are extending the tool.)

I found this book to be a great walkthrough of a C# project. The authors take you through the iterations of the project as it advances. Overall, I would recommend the book for .NET developers.

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.NET & J2EE Interoperability
by Dwight Peltzer


McGraw-Hill
1 edition
November 2003
312 pages

Reviewed by David O'Meara, December 2003
  (4 of 10)


As much as the thought scares me, there will be times when people will be forced to integrate Java and .Net applications. If you are forced to do this, you will probably need to rely on a good resource to guide you through, I'm just not sure this is the one you should use.

Described as the "one-stop resource for .Net and J2EE interoperability", I felt it missed the mark in a number of ways. The most glaring omission is any description about interoperability between J2EE and .Net applications. The first seven chapters cover either Java or .Net, but are usually covered in isolation and neglect to mention how they could interact. The second last chapter is then a description of a third party package that provides a bridge between Java and .Net, but this is the only specific example given. It also has a tendency to view things from a .Net perspective, but it stops short of brainwashing.

The examples are too light for this to be useful as a reference, and there isn't enough information for this book to help you make architectural decisions. In the end, it is a nice read from an author that knows his material and it is a fair introduction to both J2EE and .Net technologies, but other than that it doesn't deliver on it's promises.

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Programming C#
by Jeese Liberty, Jeese Liberty


O'Reilly
second edition
June 2003
710 pages

Reviewed by Matthew Phillips, June 2003
  (9 of 10)


The easy thing to do would be to refer you to Thomas Paul's review of 2nd Edition and say ditto. This book is a fantastic introduction to C#. Although the major focus seems to be at experienced programmers, a beginning programmer could learn a lot from this book as well. If you are interested in learning C#, get this book.

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O'Reilly
1 edition
February 2002
656 pages

Reviewed by Thomas Paul, July 2002
  (9 of 10)


"Programming C#" is close to being the perfect introduction to C#. The author has a nice style of writing that makes the book easy to read and understand. Although the author assumes that you have some familiarity with programming, he does not assume that you know C++ or Java and does not rely on you knowing either language. This helps avoid the problem some authors encounter of explaining how something is "just like in C++" and then losing anyone not familiar with C++. The author does show how to use VisualStudio.NET but he does not rely on this tool, allowing programmers without access to it to run the many examples in the book. Like most O'Reilly books, this is a well-focused and well-written product. The book is divided into three sections. The first is a detailed introduction to the language. The coverage of the C# language in this section is where the book excels. With very few exceptions (I would have liked to see a little more on nested classes) I found the coverage of the book and the examples provided to be excellent. The second section is a brief discussion of several topics including ADO.NET, ASP.NET, and Web Services. This section is just an introduction to these topics. The last section covers advanced topics such as reflection, threading, and remoting. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning the C# language even if that interest is purely academic.

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ASP.NET in 60 Minutes a day
by Glenn Johnson


Wiley
1 edition
May 2003
800 pages

Reviewed by Eric Pascarello, March 2004
  (8 of 10)


ASP.NET is a great way to learn the .NET if you need a structured path to follow. This book is set up as though you are taking a course in school in fact, you can even fall asleep listening to the online material. I listened to many of the files from work and was impressed that an author/publisher went this far. I personally am starting to program with ASP.net and found this book to be a big help on starting my projects. Each chapter is well thought out with great examples that can help out in beginning projects. This book will assume that you have a god understanding of VB/VB.net and does not go in depth in that area. This book is not a great desktop reference like a "bible" type of book but that's because it was not meant for that. I would highly recommend this book for anyone that is being pushed into the .net world. It will allow you to gain classroom experience right in your own home or office.

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VB .NET in 60 Minutes a Day
by Bruce Barstow


Wiley
1 edition
May 2003
800 pages

Reviewed by Eric Pascarello, March 2004
  (8 of 10)


VB.NET in 60 minutes is a great book for beginners showing them how to dive into the world of .NET. This book has online material to help you grasp the concepts of the VB.NET in a structured manner. The author of this book does a great job explaining all aspects of VB.NET programming. I was impressed in the amount and quality of the information in such a small book. I have seen other books cover this material, but not as well as this one. This book is not a great quick look-up desk reference, but that was not its design. If you want to produce VB.net applications and you are just starting, lasso up this book and bring it home. View the online content, it will help.

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Beginning C# Web Applications with Visual Studio .NET
by Daniel Cazzulino, Victor Garcia, James Greenwood, Chris Hart


Wrox
1 edition
December 2002
580 pages

Reviewed by Matthew Phillips, January 2003
  (8 of 10)


This book is appropriately titled and sets an achievable goal on the back cover. The approach to the topic is excellent. Throughout the book you work with the same example web application and build it from concept to finished product. There are a lot of hands on examples with solid explanations that follow. You will want to be sitting at your computer while you read this book so that you may follow along.

On little thing that I liked is that the inside cover tells you exactly what you need, including experience level. This is not for the C# beginner. It is aimed at someone who knows the syntax of C# and a little about the web. Anyone who has done a little C# programming and some Java Servlets/JSP will be able to jump right in.

There were a few minor typos. They were generally words that a spell checker won t catch. This book will not turn you into an expert in C# web applications, Visual Studio .NET, or ASP, but it will give you a solid enough foundation on which to build upon.

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Learning C#
by Jesse Liberty


O'Reilly
1 edition
September 2002
368 pages

Reviewed by Thomas Paul, September 2002
  (7 of 10)


Jesse Liberty has written an excellent introduction to C# entitled, "Programming C#". That book required some background in an object oriented language such as Java or C++ to get the most out of it. This book is geared for the less experienced developer. "Learning C#" covers basically the first half of "Programming C#" in about 50% more pages. A person without a background in OO will find this book much easier to follow. The book covers the language a little slower, gives more hand holding, and even gives an introduction to Visual Studio. Of course, none of the advanced topics in "Programming C#" (ASP.NET, ADO.NET, Web Services, etc.) are found in this book. The author has a nice style of writing that makes the topics easy to follow. His examples are clear and there are plenty of them. All the basic C# topics are covered including control structures, enums, structs, delegates, operator overloading, polymorphism, interfaces, and collections. The topics covered demonstrate the main features of OO languages without being overwhelming. However, the book is not a complete introduction to C#. Some topics are left out (I/O for example). But overall, the book is a good introduction for the novice object-oriented programmer. If you already have some OO experience then you will probably want to get "Programming C#". If object oriented programming (or just programming in general) is new to you then this would be a good place to start.

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Mastering Visual C# .NET
by Jason Price and Mike Gunderloy


Sybex
1 edition
August 2002
800 pages

Reviewed by David Vick, December 2002
  (8 of 10)


As a beginners book this is a solid introduction to C#. It starts with variables, loops and control structures. By the end you are into more advanced topics such as multi-threading and database access.

One problem with the text is that while it explains that some things can be done in C#, in some cases it doesn t tell you why or, if it does, the explanations seem contrived. Unfortunately, this makes it seem as if some of the language features have limited or only usefulness in the real world. In my opinion you can build a better programming base if you understand why you would do something as opposed to just knowing that it can be done.

The size of the text is average although it could have been slimmed down without a lot of the redundant code examples. In most cases the topic being explained will use complete methods, or even complete classes, as illustrations of various points. However, at the end of the section, almost all of the code that was used earlier is duplicated in a full, compilable program. Often the only change was adding a main method or a driver class. Beginners would gain more with different examples rather than duplicates.

The authors do an excellent job of writing to their audience. The explanations are clear and well described. Most of them are well thought out and meaningful. Despite its lack of elaboration in places this is an excellent introduction to C#.

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C# for Java Developers
by Allen Jones and Adam Freeman


Microsoft Press
1 edition
August 2002
576 pages

Reviewed by Matthew Phillips, November 2002
  (6 of 10)


I like a lot of things about this book. The topics on the back cover are covered pretty well. It lays a solid foundation for any Java developer to learn C#. There are a lot of sample code snippets and they are explained quite well. There are quite a few tables comparing the Java API with the complimentary C# API to enhance the accompanying text.

There are a few things that I didn't like about this book. I found myself having to refer to the class libraries on Microsoft's web site pretty often to get the code running. Overall I felt that this enhanced my learning, but I would have preferred to get it running right from the book. The book really doesn't provide any kind of introduction to Visual Studio.NET. A brief introduction would have enhanced the book very well, but it is not necessary to have Visual Studio to run most of the code. A big negative is the chapter on database connectivity. To run any of the code you need to have access to either Visual Studio.NET or SQL Server. You also need to know how to use them. I found that to be a major drawback.

I feel pretty comfortable recommending this book to anyone who wants to use their Java knowledge to get a quick introduction to C#.

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C# for Experienced Programmers
by Paul J. Deitel, J. A. Listfield, T. Nieto, Marina Zlatkina


Prentice Hall PTR
1 edition
July 2002
1456 pages

Reviewed by David Vick, December 2002
  (5 of 10)


The intended audience is experienced programmers who want an in depth coverage of the material. They should have said 'for experienced programmers who have never used Windows and never used an object oriented language'.

It was disappointing to learn that their deep coverage included explaining clicks, double clicks, how to move scroll bars, and what a toolbar is. The text was very repetitive, and redundant. At points it was insulting to see what they considered an experienced programmer didn't know.

After the first 2 chapters it gets better but, entire paragraphs still often repeat entire preceding paragraphs.

The book has a lot of code examples that could be eliminated: 'experienced programmers' should know what a for and a while loop are. Explaining how they work in C# would have sufficed. The code examples that they give, with detailed explanations, are just wasted. A 5-page example of calculating compound interest is overkill.

In trying to write a book for every possible experienced programmer they ended up adding a lot of material that simply isn t needed for most of them. The book is appealing to a very narrow audience. With more introductory material this would be a good beginner book. The 1300 pages cover a lot of material but, had it been written to the specified audience, it would have been half of the size it is.

I honestly did not enjoy reading this book; at times I was genuinely insulted by some of the explanations and code samples

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Microsoft Visual C# .NET (Core Reference)
by Mickey Williams


Microsoft Press
unknown edition
May 2002
784 pages

Reviewed by Thomas Paul, September 2002
  (8 of 10)


This is a nice introduction to the C# language using Visual Studio.NET. Although the book is referred to as a "Core Reference" it is not a typical reference. Microsoft Press also publishes a "Step By Step" book on the same topic which is a basic introduction for the inexperienced programmer. This book is a more advanced tutorial, more suitable for a programmer with Java or C++ experience. However, it is not a complete introduction to the language. Several major topics are missing including regular expressions, inner classes, and, most surprisingly, I/O. The book does cover a wide range of features in .NET and does a nice job of explaining how to use these features in Visual Studio.NET. The first half of the book is an introduction to C# starting with the basics and going up to threading and debugging. The second half of the book covers topics such as creating windows and web forms, ADO.NET, XML, and web services. The section on windows forms is the most complete while the other topics are covered lightly. Overall, the book is generally well written and well edited. I found no obvious mistakes. The book is in hardcover and comes with a CD containing all the code and a DVD with a 60 day version of Visual Studio.NET. The book is not as complete as the O'Reilly C# book but because it is more fully integrated with Visual Studio, may be more useful to most developers.

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A Programmer's Guide to ADO.NET in C#
by Mahesh Chand


Apress
1 edition
April 2002
740 pages

Reviewed by Thomas Paul, June 2002
  (9 of 10)


This book is an excellent introduction for a developer new to ADO.NET. The book is geared towards the C# developer using VS.NET so if that doesn't describe you then you will want to look elsewhere. If that does describe you then this is the book you want. The book starts with an introduction to C# which is probably good enough for someone familiar with Java or C++. This is followed by a brief introduction to ADO.NET and how to use VS.NET to build data driven applications. Chapter 5 gives an excellent explanation of how to use ADO.NET disconnected classes and data providers. The author does an excellent job of explaining these critical topics. The book goes on to explain how XML documents fit into ADO.NET and follows this with a discussion of web applications, web services and ADO events. The book contains a nice discussion of the ODBC data provider including how to install it into the VS.NET toolkit. This information is not easily found elsewhere. I especially like the author's style, which makes the book feel like a discussion with an enthusiastic co-worker rather than as a dry treatise. The book contains quite a few step-by-step, screen-by-screen examples of building applications. If you are (or plan to be) a C# developer and are new to ADO.NET you are unlikely to find a better book than this one for making this complex topics easily reachable.

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.NET Framework Essentials
by Thuan Thai, Hoang, Q. Lam


O'Reilly
second edition
February 2002
336 pages

Reviewed by Thomas Paul, April 2002
  (8 of 10)


".Net Framework Essentials" is a good introduction to the .Net framework. It will, however, leave you hungry for much more. The authors have chosen to keep their book short (300 pages) and yet cover most aspects of .Net. The authors start out with an overview of .Net and the Common Language Runtime (CLR). They then go on to discuss some simple programs written in the main supported .Net languages (VB.NET, Managed C++, and C#). The authors then move on to the meat of .Net. We get chapters on ADO.Net and integration with XML, Web Services, ASP.NET, and Windows Forms. What this means is that each topic is covered very briefly. For example, ASP.NET is covered in 60 pages. O'Reilly publishes a book on this topic that is almost 1,000 pages long! There is also nothing in the way of linking any of the information in the book to VisualStudio.Net which is the tool that most .Net developers will be using. Most of the examples in the book use C# so some knowledge of that language (or Java) will be helpful. As an overall view of and introduction to the .Net framework, this book is useful. Anyone unfamiliar with the different pieces that make up .Net will have a much clearer understanding when they have finished this book. But this will not be the last .Net book you need and it will not be a book that you refer back to very often.

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Programming ASP.NET (O'Reilly Windows)
by Jesse Liberty, Dan Hurwitz


O'Reilly
1 edition
February 2002
960 pages

Reviewed by David Vick, October 2002
  (7 of 10)


As an O Reilly publication I was disappointed with this book until I realized that the problem is probably due to the newness of the subject as opposed to quality of the authors and editors. The content is good and fully covers programming ASP.Net applications. The biggest problem is that the content is not much more than in the ASP quick start tutorials on the Microsoft site. Ease of reading and the examples being explained in significantly greater detail than the tutorials are the books greatest advantage over the tutorials aside from being able to take it anywhere.

The 900 pages would probably fit into a little more than 500 if it weren t for the constant code duplication. In the first few chapters every example (including the static HTML) is duplicated in both C# and VB.NET. Later chapters don't duplicate the HTML but much of the code is still shown in both languages. While this helps to illustrate the differences between the two languages, it gets quite repetitious. I found myself skipping over large sections of repeated code where the biggest difference was in the trailing semi-colons.

Over all it is a solid book and is useful with more detailed explanations and samples. Prior experience is with ASP pages would definitely be a plus. If you are new to ASP.Net and want a good introductory text this would be a solid book, but it, by no means, should be your only book.

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Essential Guide to Managed Extensions for C++
by Siva Challa, Artur Laksberg


Apress
1 edition
January 2002
384 pages

Reviewed by Thomas Paul, April 2002
  (10 of 10)


"Essential Guide to Managed Extensions for C++" is required reading for any C++ programmer who wants to learn about writing C++ for .Net. What this book covers is virtually everything that a C++ programmer will need to write code using Managed Extensions for C++ (MC++). The first section is an excellent tutorial of the various features of MC++. This section starts with a brief overview of the .Net framework. It continues with an introduction to MC++ with a very good low-level description of how managed classes differ from native classes. The remainder of this section contains the best explanation of managed extensions that you are likely to find. Topics are discussed in terms that make sense for C++ programmers. For example, delegates are discussed in terms of function pointers which they replace. The code samples are designed to give a clear explanation of the topic being discussed. The second part covers interoperability issues between managed and native code. For performance reasons C++ developers will sometimes need to mix code types so the explanation of how to avoid performance degradation when mixing managed and native code will be very useful. This section also includes descriptions of how to mix COM and .NET components and how to write wrapper classes for native code. For the C++ developer worried that C# is "the" .NET language, the authors show that MC++ is an important part of the .NET world and provide the information that C++ programmers need to develop for .NET.

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Microsoft Visual C# .NET Step by Step
by John Sharp, Jon Jagger


Microsoft Press
unknown edition
January 2002
656 pages

Reviewed by Thomas Paul, September 2002
  (7 of 10)


This book is geared for the person who is either a novice programmer or is new to object oriented programming. Anyone who is migrating from another language such as C++ or Java would be better served by choosing the Microsoft Press Core Reference book. This book takes a leisurely pace through C# and Visual Studio. Each chapter introduces a concept and then takes you through a step-by-step demonstration in Visual Studio of a program using that concept. Beyond the basics of C#, the book also covers such topics and ASP.NET, ADO.NET, and web services. It includes a brief tutorial on XML as well. The book does not cover each topic in great depth and some topics are left out (I/O, for example) but for someone with little or no experience the pace and the material covered is about perfect. Overall the book is well done. The book makes it easy for the novice to learn C#. The lessons are well designed to help the reader understand the material that was just covered. The authors' pace is perfect for a self-study course and should allow you to learn the material without much struggle. If you have experience then you will probably want to look elsewhere, perhaps to the Core Reference or the O'Reilly book. You should note that this book is very much a "hands on" book so you will need a copy of Visual Studio or Visual C#.NET to make it worthwhile.

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MicroSoft .NET
by Fergal Grimes


Manning Publications
1 edition
January 2002
386 pages

Reviewed by Cindy Glass, March 2002
  (8 of 10)


This was a fun approach to explaining .NET. He takes the SAME application and shows how to deploy it in 11 different architectures from a basic console app to a Web server-based ASP.NET version.

The author starts with an overview of what .NET is all about. He runs through the design and code for a small Poker application. The code is shown in C# - well he HAD to pick one language to work in. Then he shows how to deploy it with an ugly console interface. Next he adds in HTML display, and a then COM based version. After adding database persistance and showing reporting using XML and XSLT, he re-deploys the application in each of the promised versions over the course of several chapters.

The 30 page appendix was a great summary of enough C# for any java person (and probably any C++ or VB person) to follow the examples with ease. The examples were clear and easy to follow.

This book is very good on the "how to's" and a little shy on the "why's". More discussion on the benefits and pitfalls would have been good. Occasionally the book felt scattered from going down so many paths and adding in functionality all over the place.

There was a presumption that the reader is familiar with MicroSoft technology from ADO and ASP to Window Services.

On the whole this is a very good book to get a handle on what .NET is all about.

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Application Development Using C# and .NET
by Michael Stiefel, Robert J. Oberg


Prentice Hall PTR
1 edition
December 2001
656 pages

Reviewed by Thomas Paul, April 2002
  (9 of 10)


"Application Development Using C# and .Net" is an excellent introduction to the .Net framework. This book is for the experienced developer with knowledge of an object oriented language such as Java or C++. The first part of the book gives a quick introduction to the basics of the .Net framework. The next three chapters give a rundown of C#. Three chapters is hardly enough to explain any programming language but the book provides enough detail to make a Java/C++ programmer feel comfortable with the language. The remainder of the book covers using C# to develop programs in the .Net framework. ASP.NET, windows forms and ADO.NET are all covered with a running case study. Building assemblies is given a good amount of coverage as is security. Web services are also explained with examples showing how to use WSDL to generate client proxy classes. I especially appreciated how all the pieces were demonstrated through the VisualStudio IDE. This was the first book I read on .Net and after having finished it I felt that I had a good, if at all basic, understanding of the various parts that make up the .Net framework. You should note that the index is almost useless. For example, there is not a single entry for SQL in spite of the book having a chapter on using ADO.NET to access relational databases. As with most introductions, this book does not work as a reference. But as a learning tool, this book excels.

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C# How To Program
by Harvey M Deitel et al


Prentice Hall
unknown edition
December 2001
1568 pages

Reviewed by Thomas Paul, March 2003
  (7 of 10)


Deitel books have been getting better and better with each new release. The later editions of "Java How To Program" were a vast improvement over the early editions of the book. Taking that experience, Deitel published this, their first C# book, in December 2001. The result is a mix of good and not so good. The overall approach to the topic is the standard Deitel method of covering topics in-depth with plenty of code samples. Anyone familiar with their C++ or Java books will recognize the Deitel formula immediately. In this case, the book suffers a little from being a first edition. The book covers all the main topics of the C# language, explains how to use Visual Studio, gives a primer on object oriented programming, and touches upon some advanced topics such as ADO, ASP, and web services. The book does have a feel of being rushed, however. Some of the examples seem either overly contrived or unnecessarily confusing. In some cases the explanations of the code are incomplete. For some reason, Deitel chose to print this book using only black and red instead of the multi-color print used in their Java books. Overall, this book is one of the better introductory C# books. It covers a much wider array of topics than many of the other C# books available and in general it covers them reasonably well. The CD does not include a student or demo copy of Visual Studio.

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Professional C# Web Services: Building .NET Web Services with ASP.NET and .NET Remoting
by Andrew Krowczyk, Zach Greenvoss, Christian Nagel, Ashish Banerjee, Thiru Thangarathinam, Aravind Corera, Chris Peiris, Brad Maiani


Wrox
1 edition
December 2001
550 pages

Reviewed by Thomas Paul, September 2002
  (7 of 10)


Building web services is generally a simple task in .NET. This book covers the two methods available to .NET developers to build web services, ASP.NET (referred to as XML Web Services) and .NET Remoting (a technology similar to RMI, although with more flexibility). There are several books that cover building web services with APS.NET but this book is rare in that it covers both technologies. If you aren't interested in .NET Remoting then you may want to look elsewhere. Overall, this book does a nice job of covering web services in .NET although it could have been better. The book suffers from the common problem of multiple authors, it tends to be repetitive. For example, the SOAP protocol. is explained in detail in chapter 2 , and then again in chapter 4. The chapter on web services security gives a good description of cryptography but doesn't discuss other issues of web service security. Although the book does discuss user authentication (although briefly) it does not discuss the problem of passing user cre dentials from one web service to another. At least half the book is case studies and examples so the actual content is not deep. The book is a fairly good basic introduction to web services. If you are new to web services and you are looking for a book that covers ASP.NET and .NET Remoting, you could do a lot worse than starting with this book.

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ADO.NET Programmer's Reference
by Adil Rehan, Dushan Bilbija, et al


Wrox
1 edition
September 2001
950 pages

Reviewed by Thomas Paul, May 2002
  (8 of 10)


Wrox lists this book as a "Programmer's Reference". In a reference I look for detailed information and code samples demonstrating usage, more extensive than what can be found in the help files or online API. This book succeeds very well as a reference, providing a great deal of information that you will want to have nearby while you are coding. The book starts off with a description of ADO.NET which is the weakest part of the book. This section doesn't quite put all the pieces of ADO.NET together in a meaningful way. The remainder of the book is excellent. Each of the key classes (DataSet, DataReader, DataAdapter, etc.) and their constructors, properties, methods and events are discussed in detail with code samples in both VB.NET and C#. Each key class or concept (data relationships, transactions, XML mapping, etc.) is given a chapter in the book. The explanations are much more useful than what you will find in the online help files. Besides covering SQL and OLE, the book also covers the ODBC classes which are not documented in the help files included with VS.NET. In a reference the index is important and here the index is good although some entries seem to be off a page or two. If you are looking for an in-depth introduction to using ADO.NET you will want to look at other books. If you need a detailed reference book then this should be your first stop.

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C++ XML
by Fabio Arciniegas


Sams
unknown edition
August 2001
336 pages

Reviewed by Madhav Lakkapragada, April 2002
  (6 of 10)


This book assumes knowledge of XML and is for C++ and XML developers. The book covers a lot of different topics but not in great detail. SAX (both 1.0 and 2.0) and DOM 2.0 are discussed to begin with. The author does a good job describing the API for all of these. The examples are simple and demonstrate the usage of the API. A good chapter was the comparision of SAX and DOM.

Other advanced topics that are touched in this books are XML Schema, XPath, XPointers, TREX and XSLT. The book does give an example or two on each of these and mentions where and how to use these technologies. However, they are neither complete nor detailed, as claimed on the back cover. Lets be honest, an eight and half page description on XML Schema is not detailed, atleast not in my opinion.

Its the same with XSLT and SOAP/RPC. One chapter on each that gives you an understanding of how to use this technology in C/C++ and the tools available. Toolkits or frameworks like Xalan, Xerces and MSXML are also mentioned with an example or two. The book also presents a chapter on Database support and its processing using C++ based ODBC tools.

Overall, this book gives a perspective of various XML technologies to a C/C++ developer and provides a CD with all the source code and tools needed. While XML knowledge is needed to use this book, the examples that are mentioned are easy to understand, not too complicated. So, if you are a C/C++ developer and would like to get a peek into the XML world, this book does a fair job. But, is not detailed or complete on any topic.

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