Microsoft & .NET.NETBook Review: Special Edition Using Microsoft Visual Basic .NET

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Title: Special Edition Using Microsoft Visual Basic .NET
Authors: Brian Siler & Jeff Spotts
ISBN: 0-7897-2572-x
Published: December, 2001
Price: $39.99 USD
Pages: 830
Rating 2 out of 5

Review by: Eric C. Willman

This book is described as being a “beginning to intermediate” book, but should more accurately be described as a beginning book. The book does not go into any detail about more sophisticated concepts. It seems as though you have to be beyond a beginner to comprehend the downloadable samples, but the sophistication is not there for the intermeidate or beyond developer.

This book feels to me like it was a Visual Basic 6.0 book that the authors went through and refreshed to work in VB.NET. It essentially shows the basic steps to accomplish all the things that VB developers used to do, but how to do them in VB.NET. If I had no experience with .NET, and had developed in VB 6, after reading this book, I would be thinking “What’s the point of upgrading? You do all of the same stuff, just in different ways!” It does not touch on (or just brushes on) any of the concepts that are totally new to VB, such as inheritance. For example, in the Windows Controls section (which was probably just the ActiveX control section with some verbiage changes) they suggest that if you want to extend the functionality of an existing control (such as make a Textbox just for dates), you should create a new control project and add a Textbox to your control form, then write your custom code — when in reality, it is better practice in .NET to inherit from the control you want to enhance.

The entire section on writing applications for a Pocket PC is completely out of date, with no mention of the Mobile Internet Toolkit, or the .NET compact framework.

All of the code listings in the book are captioned as [somefilename].ZIP — and when you download the sourcecode, the ZIP file names in the book do not actually correspond with the real ZIP files. If you hunt around, you can find all of the example code files in the downloaded ZIP files, but nothing is actually named the same as it is in the book. For someone who is a seasoned developer, this was not a huge problem, BUT this book claims it is appropriate for people who are new to Visual Basic and even for people who have never programmed before.

To complicate the code samples even further, each ZIP file actually contains a Visual Studio solution file and project file which encompases the appropriate code files for the example. This is actually extremely convenient for working with the samples in Visual Studio — HOWEVER, this structure of the zip files is never explained! Again, not a problem for an experienced developer, but could be extremely confusing to someone who has never worked with Visual Studio before.

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