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In Search of .NET Nirvana


November 19, 2002

Looking to learn the latest version of your favourite programming language? Scouring your local bookshop for the latest and greatest .NET books?

Before shelling out your pennies, be sure to read our blunt lowdown on the handful of current titles - VB.NET Programming with the Public Beta, Moving to VB.NET, .NET Framework Essentials, plus C# and the .NET Platform.

So, what are we waiting for?

VB.NET Programming with the Public Beta Wrox, 420 pages, #26.99 / $34.99, ISBN: 1-861004-91-5

When Billy Hollis and Rockford Lhotka released this nifty number earlier this year, they knocked out the programming community. What speed!

Now however, the book is starting to age. Still based on Beta One, Wrox apparently aren't planning a reprint for Beta Two though have a mix of updates and complete chapter rewrites available through their Web site.

Which makes us ask... why buy the original?

Conclusion: Once a definite hit, now a little outdated. Worth buying if Wrox ever releases a Beta Two update.

.NET Framework Essentials O'Reilly, 300 pages, #20.95 / $29.95, ISBN: 0-596-00165-7

This handy-sized publication zaps the marketing hype in preference to hard-core technical detail.

Provides a solid introduction to the .NET Framework, alongside code samples in VB.NET, C# and Managed C++ - all based on Beta 2.

Whilst this book doesn't approach .NET from the VB programmers' perspective, it does provide a solid grounding and serves as a great desktop reference.

Conclusion: It might not be bedtime reading, but this title is crammed with detail and covers all the important features.

Moving to VB.NET: Strategies, Concepts and Code Apress, 540 pages, #27.50 / $39.95, ISBN: 1-893115-97-6

If you're looking to get the big .NET picture, this book from Dan Appleman is definitely one to watch out for.

Written in an almost philosophical style, it opens with a debate as to how, and indeed if you should adopt the new technology, then moves on to look at the core ideas behind VB.NET. That's the 'Strategies and Concepts' part over. Finally, Dan gives up the last two-thirds to focus purely on actual code.

A hefty title for already proficient programmers. Yes, certainly a joy to read, though sadly lacking in any ADO.NET content.

Conclusion: Definitely one of the leaders, from one of the leaders. Reading this number will ensure a solid, ground-up .NET understanding.

C# and the .NET Platform Apress, 930 pages, #43.00 / $59.95, ISBN: 1-893115-59-3

It may not be a Visual Basic title, but the C# language similarities make this one worth mentioning.

This is a pretty standard programming textbook, accessible by beginners and gurus alike. From drawing circles through to advanced class construction, this bulky title covers all angles - though doesn't make for a particularly exciting read.

Oh, by the way - Apress say they're currently editing this book to release a VB version - proof of the similarity here.

Conclusion: Aimed at those learning C#, this book starts at the beginning and works upward. Worth a browse at least.

Well, that's all for this roundup. As the .NET revolution swings into full flow and publishers begin unveiling more and more titles, we'll be sure to bring you the lowdown on the latest and greatest. Stay tuned, folks!

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