Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 Unleashed
Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 Unleashed

Author: Lars Powers & Mike Snell
Publisher: Sams, 2008
Pages: 1248
ISBN: 978-0672329722
Aimed at: .NET programmers
Rating: 4
Pros: A comprehensive tome
Cons: About to be superceded
Reviewed by: Ian Elliot


This is a book all about using Visual Studio 2008 and not about using any particular language or development technique.

It covers all the obvious topics at great length with lots of screen dumps and file listings which mostly serve to fill the space.

Part 1 opens with quick tours both of  VS 2008 and the IDE and has a third chapter that looks at the .NET framework enhancements in VS 2008 and language additions introduced with this version.

Part 2 deals with the IDE in-depth, including browsers and explorers and editors and designers. Chapter 7 on consuming and creating shared code is the first indication that this book has an emphasis on the way in which .NET fosters collaboration and participation in community projects.

Part III on writing and working with code looks first at the productivity aids - starting with change tracking and coding problem indicators in the VS Text Editor, through code outlining to the Intellisense and Task List features provided. This is followed up by chapters on refactoring and debugging code.

Part 4 is about extending visual studio and starts by introducing the Automation Object model looking at  object model versions the Solution and Project objects and how to working with Windows. It then looks at creating macros, add-ins and wizards.

Part 5 deals with creating enterprise applications – ASP.NET, Windows Forms applications, WPF, Ajax and database, web services and Windows Workflow.

Part 6 takes us into the territory of Visual Studio Team System. and so will appeal to users who actually have Team Studio. The only problem is that there is no discussion of how to tackle deployment and other issues if don't have Team Studio.

Although this is a comprehensive and useful tome there is likely to be a new edition for Visual Studio 2010 is released and I look forward to the 2010 edition.


Pro SQL Server Administration

Author: Peter Carter
Publisher: Apress
Pages: 1004
ISBN: 978-1484207116
Print: 1484207114
Kindle: B0157W4JNE
Audience: DBAs and developers
Rating: 5
Reviewer: Ian Stirk

This big book aims to explain SQL Server 2014’s administration capabilities. How does it fare? 

Expert PHP and MySQL

Author: Marc Rochkind
Publisher: Apress
Pages: 340
ISBN: 978-1430260073
Aimed at: PHP developers who want to develop commercial apps
Rating: 5
Reviewed by: Kay Ewbank

This book aims to take someone who knows the basics of PHP programming, and show them not just how to create PHP and MySQL projects, but h [ ... ]

More Reviews

Title:  Beginning Javascript with DOM Scripting and Ajax: From Novice to Professional

Author: C Heilmann

Publisher: APress

Price: £27.99 

Pages: 450

ISBN:  1590596803

Aimed at: The experienced JavaScript programmer

Pros: Some good examples

Cons: Not for the beginner

Reviewed by: Ian Elliot

Verdict: : -|


Another of the books to jump on the Ajax bandwagon (mental note to self – write Ajax book tomorrow). It’s not particularly noteworthy unless you already know quite a lot about Ajax and general JavaScript techniques. This is a messy and incomplete account of Ajax and adds little to what other books offer. There are some nuggets buried in the dross but you have to stick with the book to find them. For example, the examples at the end of the book are rather good, if overlong. The shorter examples along with their explanations are rather less useful – they are a bit chaotic and incompletely explained. The one thing that is certain is that that complete beginner will get nothing from this book and so it’s hardly “from Novice to Professional”. There are also times when you guess that the author doesn’t know as much about JavaScript as he should and is just making sure that things work. There is a good section on debugging but on the whole the book is lacking both organisation and any deep philosophy. Not complete rubbish but not an essential read.



Title:  Windows Forms in Action

Author: Erik E. Brown

Publisher: Manning

Price: £35.99 

Pages: 803

ISBN:  1932394656

Aimed at: C# application programmers

Pros: Logical and methodical.

Cons: Uninspired and doesn’t stray beyond the standard uses.

Reviewed by: Mike James

Verdict: : -)


This is a methodical but uninspired account of the Windows forms namespace. It’s in C# but as the focus is on the framework this really isn’t a huge problem if you want to work in another language. The approach is to work from the basics of each component and document how it’s used to increasing detail. The examples are well presented, easy to understand and explained in a step-by-step format that adds comments alongside the code in a table format. The only real problem is that the content rarely rises above information that you can find in the standard documentation. It shows you how to make use of the components as they were intended to be used without any attempt at creativity or at tackling the sort of problems that actually occur when you implement anything more than the most standard of user interfaces. If you need a good explanation of the obvious then this isn’t a bad book but if you are past the beginner’s stage you can most probably do without it.


Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great (Paperback)

by Esther Derby, Diana Larsen, Ken Schwaber

RRP: £20.99 

Paperback: 186 pages

Publisher: Pragmatic Bookshelf (4 Aug 2006)

Language English

ISBN: 0977616649


If you are expecting a book about agile or extreme programming in terms of refactoring, pair programming and so on this is going to be something of a shock. Its full of descriptions of how to organise productive meetings and encourage your team. Its full of pithy sayings, obvious observations and scribbled diagrams communicating the even more obvious. If you have any people skills at all you really don’t need this book. Of course we are programmers and hence we might assume that people skills are something alien. In fact alien skills are more likely! If you fit the stereotype then you might enjoy and even be inspired by the descriptions, prescriptions and admonitions listed in detail here. However we all know that stereotypes are the mean from which we all diverge and you are unlikely to rise to the position of a team leader unless you do have some people skills you aren’t really likely to need a book such as this. My final question is what exactly is “agile” about this approach? I’m not sure I can see how it fits in apart from the style and enthusiasm to rise above the commonplace. It’s all a bit of a con and unless you are feeling particularly unsuited to the position you find yourself in – give it a miss.


Inside Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0 (Paperback)

by A. Greef, M. Pontoppidan, L. Olsen

RRP: £40.99 

Our Price: £27.05 & this item Delivered FREE in the UK with Super Saver Delivery.

Paperback: 512 pages

Publisher: Microsoft Press,U.S. (9 Aug 2006)

Language English

ISBN: 0735622574


I’ve been hearing a lot about Microsoft Dynamics from sources I usually trust but despite some admittedly half hearted attempts to fathom out what it actually does I still haven’t a clue. I was hoping that Inside Microsoft Dynamics AX would put me out of my mysery but no. I started at the beginning but my eyes started to glaze over after just a few pages. It reads like one of those sales presentations that go though lists of what the system integrates with and uses lots of vague diagrams that indicates that everything is possible. I became even more worried when I discovered that its design language X++, no I’m not joking, integrates with COM and .NET, but only via .NET’s COM interop. Not really cutting edge as far as Microsoft’s technologies are concerned. Then there is the fact that the integration of SQL into X++ is very similar to the Linq project and a lot of the ideas going into the next versions of VB and C#. Of course Dynamics AX is something Microsoft bought and is in the process of making its own but at the moment I’m not at all sure that this isn’t a stage on the road to creating something better. The book isn’t really a “lets get programming” approach to Dynamics AX and unless you already are a zealot I’m not sure you will get a great deal from the book. Not recommended unless you are desperate.


Essential C# 2.0 (Paperback)

by Mark Michaelis

RRP: £31.99 

Paperback: 720 pages

Publisher: Addison Wesley (27 Jul 2006)

Language English

ISBN: 0321150775


This is an interesting book because it attempts to teach some advanced ideas but in a way that even a beginner could cope with. It starts at the very beginning with a hello world program and uses the command line complier throughout. It stays very focused and “on topic” dealing almost exclusively with C# the language rather than C# and the .NET framework. What this means is that when you have finished reading it there is still a lot to learn to create useful .NET applications. However in 700 pages the author does delve into some advanced C# topics including thread pooling, attributes, Pinvoke, generics, iterators, synchronisation, interoperability and so on… All the way through the book there are “mind maps” showing how ideas fit together, special sections for complete beginners and mostly short understandable examples. However if the book has a flaw its in its use of a strange mix of advanced and simple language. For example, in describing on page 10 “What is a Method” the first sentence reads


“Syntactically, a method in C# is a named block of code introduced by a method declaration (e.g. static void Main()) and followed by zero or more statements in curly braces.”


This is also within a “Beginners topic” block aimed at the complete beginner. The use of the opening “Syntactically” might well loose him a few readers but then why use “curly braces” instead of “curly brackets”. You might think that this is nit picking but there is an air of the intellectual highbrow running through the entire book. For me this is a plus point as it takes the book about as far away from the hip but ultimately tedious street slang and attempts at humour found in many other far less successful beginners books. For me, this is a good book that attempts to talk to beginners in a language that isn’t dumbed down. But be warned if you don’t like sentences starting with “Syntactically” don’t buy this book!


Ruby Cookbook (Paperback)

by Lucas Carlson, Leonard Richardson

RRP: £35.50 

Paperback: 906 pages

Publisher: O'Reilly (28 Jul 2006)

Language English

ISBN: 0596523696


I’m currently getting up to speed with Ruby and I have to say that this cookbook has helped. Its in the standard style of other O’Reilly cookbooks in that it deals with lots of often quite small topics by way of setting them as a problem, solution and discussion. If you don’t like this sort of format then you wont like this book. Its quite a thick book and in its 900 pages deals with basics like strings and data structures as well as “bigger” topics such as Ruby on Rails, database, graphics, web services and other internet services. While it does cover Ruby on Rails you need to realise that this is just a taster of this currently hot topic and its isn’t worth buying this book if you Rails is your real interest. It also certainly isn’t a book you read from page one to the end – it’s a “dip into” sort of book but if you are trying to get to grips with a particular Ruby technique this is exactly what you want. A book I can recommend to all Ruby beginners and quite a few advanced Ruby programmers.


Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Unleashed (Unleashed) (Paperback)

by Lars Powers, Mike Snell


RRP: £42.99 

Paperback: 870 pages

Publisher: Sams (1 Jun 2006)

Language English

ISBN: 0672328194



This is a book all about using Visual Studio 2005 and not about using any particular language or development technique. For most part it covers lots of fairly obvious topics at great length with lots of screen dumps and file listings which mostly serve to fill the space. Part 1 is a quick tour of VS 2005, Part 2 deals with the IDE in-depth, the object model, creating macros, add-ins, wizards and so on. Part 3 deals with particular development situations – ASP, Windows, Database, web services and so on. Part 4 takes us into the fairly new territory of Team system. Most users of VS really don’t need to read Part 1 and it's only in Part 2 and 3 do things get generally more interesting. There is nothing here that you can’t find in the help files but it is presented in a more structured and ordered format. Overall it is helpful but the good bits are well padded and hence often difficult to find. The final part of the book will, of course only appeal to users who actually have Team Studio. The only problem is that there is no discussion of how to tackle deployment and other issues if don’t have Team Studio. You also need to keep in mind that quite a lot is about to change when Vista is released and we have to take .NET 3.0 and its extensions to Visual Studio more seriously. Will this make the book obsolete? No but it might tip the balance from “just worth buying” to “save your time and money”.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 16 March 2010 )

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