Rcjp's Weblog

April 20, 2005

ACCU Book Review

Filed under: c — rcjp @ 3:11 pm

Microsoft Visual C# .Net 2003 Unleashed

by Lonny Kruger & Kevin Hoffman (0-6723-2676-0) SAMS @ £43.99
(appeared in CVu June 2005 Vol 17 No 3)

This book attempts to cover the vast range of the .NET framework using C# as well as the C# language itself. It has nine sections totalling 916 pages plus a comprehensive index and starts with a walk around Visual Studio. This is very difficult to do in words and it may have been better to point to one of the downloadable guided tours on the msdn website.

The syntax of C# described in the next 300 pages takes you from basic control structures through to COM and code reflection. The introduction to C# chapter is bizarre – the third program shows a SQL connection class implementing IDisposable and we do not see ‘hello world’ until the end of the chapter! Using undefined terms such as ‘metadata’ will only confuse a beginner and there is no glossary of terms. Yet the beginner is clearly the target audience for the book: chapter 3 has a two-page program to demonstrate the use of logical AND and OR with a score of Console.Write statements – surely the most confusing way to demonstrate such a simple concept.

The remaining parts cover Windows Forms, Web Applications, Data Access, Web Services, Secure Applications, Enterprise and Connected Applications and Debugging and Testing. It is odd, given the scope of the book, that it omits any instructions on setting up IIS needed run many of the examples and instructs the reader to look elsewhere.

For some reason the chapters start on the left hand page with a useless ‘What you need’ section containing entries such as ‘Recommended Software – Visual Studio.NET’ and ‘Skills Required – C# coding’. Most of the code layout is poor with messy indentation, multiple blank lines and regions of highlighted code that make reading the programs painful. The authors have often not even been bothered enough to remove the auto generated comments for class descriptions etc.

It seems in a desperate scramble to reach the thousand-page count for the book, the authors wasted space wherever possible in the early chapters. For instance, in the chapter on Windows Forms the same picture of their demo window appears no less than nine times.

The later chapters are considerably better and provide a useful introduction for the more advanced features of .NET that often require a separate book to cover in detail.

However, taking the book as a whole, it fails as a beginner’s guide with often trivial and uninspired examples and no glossary. That, along with too many worthless descriptions such as ‘The Call Stack window displays the functions on the call stack’ and sloppy formatting of code make the book feel carelessly put together. Not recommended.

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