Author: Dominic Betts, Federico Boerr, Scott Densmore, Jose Gallardo Salazar & Alex Homer
Publisher: Microsoft Press, 2011
Aimed at: .NET programmers
Pros: Relatively short
Cons: Very little relevant content
Reviewed by: Harry Fairhead
This is another one of the books in the Microsoft Patterns and Practices series that makes use of strange cartoons complete with speech bubbles. The sort of things that these particular bubbleheads spill out are particularly unenlightening:
"Using a Phone as a comprehensive business tool is a perfect solution for mobile employees"
No jokes about immobile employees please....
The introductory chapter might help someone stuck in the 18th century but for the rest of us it can be skipped. Where it does have some information it takes the form of glossaries and lists. This isn't a good start.
Chapter 2 looks a lot more like it - "Designing applications for Windows Phone 7" - but it isn't. More waffle. Charts choosing how design considerations fit together are followed by long discussions of each minute point. The bubbleheads are still regurgitating the obvious:
"There are significant differences between the phone and the desktop in terms of devices resources and capabilities"
well I'd never have known that!
Chapter 3 is a case study but it still manages to stay away from anything technical. Chapter 4 is about building the app and here we do get some XAML, but why I'm not at all sure. The code is as obvious as the word bubbles that the bubbleheads keep producing.
Chapters 5 and 6 are on using services and do get a little deeper into how isolated storage, web requests and similar work. There is also a short introduction to reactive extensions, but the reader is then sent to an appendix for any really useful info.
Chapter 7 moves back to lists and mostly obvious comments on the Windows Marketplace and that's the end of the book - almost. There are some useful appendixes on getting started with Windows Phone 7 and other specifics.
From a programmer's point of view there is quite a lot that could be culled from the start of this book and space could be made to move the material relegated to the appendixes to a more sensible position. This book rarely gets into advanced topics but because of its abstract and hands-off approach it isn't suitable for the beginner. Indeed you need to be a fairly competent C# programmer and know quite a bit about Silverlight and XAML to make sense of what you are being told.
If you demand this much of your reader why not treat them like an adult? It's not just the mostly stupid cartoons but also the way that any discussion of anything that might be complex or detailed is suddenly cut off with a "we can't go into this here - see this appendix or some other book".
Somewhere inside this book there might be a more useful book trying to get out. There is a need for a patterns and practices type book applied to mobile phone programming in general and Windows Phone 7 in particular but this one just doesn't cover the ground.