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Book Review: VB.Net Programming

  • November 19, 2002
  • By Karl Moore
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Back in the very early days of VB.NET, it was incredibly difficult to get information about the new development tool.

Dodgy conferences abound explaining the drastic language differences, leading journal writers proclaimed it was the Devil incarnate and the few individuals that actually understood it, unfortunately didn't speak English instead, they conversed in Geek-Speak. Or maybe it was Swahili.

Either way, thankfully times are changing. The stream of knowledge is starting to flow once again.

Last week, we reviewed one of the first VB.NET courses on the market. Now we're back with another solution for those on a slighter lower budget.

Or more specifically, a budget of #26.99 / $34.99.

Yes, that's the price of this latest publication from Wrox. Christened very originally, 'VB.NET Programming with the Public Beta', this title is in the shops now.

But if VB.NET isn't yet good enough to start charging well, is this publication?

VB.Net Programming

After initial troubles in Wrox actually getting this publication to me, I finally received the package last Friday. And when I opened it, I jumped in fear.

Why? As you probably know, the mugshots stuck on the front of most Wrox publications aren't usually very complimentary. And the authors of this book are no exception.

The two writer bods on the cover are Billy Hollis, a Don-Brennan lookalike and Rockford Lhokta. Yes, I said Lhokta - and if you've ever seen his 'VB6 Business Objects' book, you'll know he looks as though he'll personally give you the once-over if you don't immediately digest his offerings. Even on this cover, with that hint of a smile in the shot, I still feel afraid. Perhaps I should be telling this to my shrink.

Anyway, this 230-page publication starts off with a brief introduction to the numerous chapters along with a disclaimer that this is still a 'work in progress'. It soon moves on to getting Beta One installed, plus explains how to knock together a quick Hello World application.

After this, it goes on to explain a few of the underlying technologies behind VB.NET. I'm talking about the Common Language Runtime (since renamed), the .NET Framework and why that thing they call DNA is retiring.

But by this point, you'll already have a dozen questions buzzing around your head from the Hello World sample. What about all that auto-generated code? Where's the immediate window? What's that Import statement doing?

It seems very confusing. Thankfully Hollis and Lhokta quickly move from the theory of VB.NET onto the new language features. And there's no slowing down with these guys by the sixth page, they've already discussed inheritance and constructors.

After the differences are covered along with a hefty dollop of screenshots and sample code the authors move onto the new interface capabilities of the tool. And we're talking some neat Windows Form features here everything is covered, from automatic resizing through to the new controls.

After this, we find an important section dealing with all the new whatnots that make VB.NET a fully object-oriented language. Then we get to hear about the many new Web features available to us, followed by a section dealing with the enhanced ADO.NET including information on how to use the wizards if you fancy an easy life.

Next up, we get all the advanced stuff for those techies with beards and BO. Here, you'll information on the likes of threading, Transaction Server, creating Windows services and compiling at the command line.

And finally, a few of the later chapters provide a general 'wrap-up' of the book, along with code samples and recommendations on where to go from here.

However the one thing that really strikes me about this book is its complete honesty. It has been released in the midst of change, a book brought out as soon as physically possible. And it tells you that.

It's a book based on Beta One and is liable to change. I've read information in this title that I know will alter with Beta Two. But where this is suspected, the guys highlight it.

They're also realistic. If they've noted a bug or some feature that seems a little flaky, they point it out.

And that's something you'll never find in a Microsoft Press publication.

Conclusion

To say this book is based on the first Beta version of VB.NET, Hollis and Lhotka have done an exceptional job. And I'm not just saying that for fear of the 'once-over'.

They've beaten the crowd in getting a concise information-packed book out onto the market in the quickest time possible. With relatively short chapters, packed with simple facts and honest opinions, this publication is certain to impress.

If you haven't yet planned your learning curve for VB.NET, it's about time you started. And this book is perhaps the ideal first step.

All in all, a very interesting title providing a solid overview on all the VB.NET features. But only pick it up if you're a proficient developer those new to the language will feel very, very lost.

You can win a copy of VB.Net Programming with Beta One by sending a fun, philosophical thought in to Karl for his next newsletter. E-mail karl@vb-world.net with your suggestions to be in with a chance!






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