Author: Alessandro Del Sole
Publisher: Sams, 2010
Aimed at: Intermediate .NET developers
Pros: Covers a great deal
Cons: Makes it seem too straightforward
Reviewed by: Mike James
There are many books on Visual Basic. Should you select this one?
This is a very difficult book to review because it isn't very bad and it isn't very good - it's just a book about Visual Basic 2010.
It goes over all of the ground you would expect a book of this size (huge) to cover but it doesn't do it any better than any other book and rarely, if ever, adds anything at all to the documentation.
The accounts are all straightforward and never point out anything that might be unusual or cause you to misunderstand, make a mistake or use a feature in the wrong way. It also doesn't really make a case for anything much - it simply presents the facts.
The book is divided into ten parts - although Part 10 is only available on the web. It starts off with an overview including Visual Studio 2010. Then it moves on to consider object-oriented programming and working with objects.
The presentation isn't particularly logical. For example, just after introducing types we are treated to a discussion of reference and value types and an in depth look at making shallow or deep copies - all this before we have even got to a think about objects.
The lack of a logical progression means that there are a lot of forward references and this make the book not suitable for the complete beginner. You need to know how to program in some other language to follow the narrative.
Part 3 is titled Advanced VB Language Features - and covers manipulating files and streams and namespaces etc. Part 4 is on Data Access and this means files and databases. The topics covered are basic file handling and ADO .NET and LINQ. Notice that this is only a third of the way through the book and we haven't yet dealt with every aspect of the core language.
Part 5 is an introduction to building Windows applications - surely this should have gone before data access - and Part 6 deals with web applications. Part 7 is on networking in general. Part 8 returns to more central topics of advanced VB use and deals with threading, reflection etc. Finally we have a section on deployment and the online only section on using the Visual Studio IDE which really should be at the start of the book.
You get the idea - this book isn't particularly well thought out overall, even if some of the sections are OK. There are lots of tables that take up space and don't add much, which would be fine if the text did add much. The descriptions are often cumbersome, even if they do make sense on second reading.
Overall this book has to be regarded as not really achieving what it set out to do, mainly because the author never gives the reader an idea that there is a bigger picture - it's just all detail. There are better books on Visual Basic and so there seems little reason to buy this one.