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Book Review: Murach's ASP.NET 4 Web Programming with VB2010

#1 modi123_1  Icon User is offline

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Post icon  Posted 29 April 2011 - 08:51 AM

Review: Murach's ASP.NET 4 Web Programming with VB2010 4th edition.
Author: Anne Boehm
IBSN: 978-1-890774-60-8
Amazon link
Price: $54.50 USD.

A few things up front. First, wow! What a behemoth of a book. We are talking about 810 pages, and massive. This puppy will weigh you down, but it is so worth it.

Second, I love the fact they were using a Halloween store throughout. Fun!

Third, this book uses a 'text/explanation on the left hand side' and 'code on the right hand side' format. A pretty nifty way, and I dig the setup. No more needing to flip back and forth between pages just look across the spine!

I will also mention up front this is an end to end tutorial on ASP.NET. When I say end to end Boehm takes you from concepts of the web, how web pages are displayed, transfer concepts across the net, how the Visual Studios IDE works, debugging (!!! YES FOR THIS !!!), basic css/html, IIS setup for win7/vista/XP, and then into the ASP.NET code. It wraps up with securing sites, authentication of users, and more professional skills for ASP.NET development.

This book could easily be used in a classroom (I believe the forward made mention of this) and in the right hands substitute an 101 class. It is just that complete. The problem with that is the first chunk of the book was not helpful for me, but I was enthralled it was being explained. I'll have to check out if they have any others in languages/ides/platforms I am not so familiar with. These guys will be my go to source for hitting new platforms.

The book breaks down in to four major sections:
1: Essence of ASP.NET web programming
2: Basic ASP.NET skills
3: ASP.NET database programming
4: Professional skills.

Each section has five to six chapters a piece. If you want a detailed outline of each chapter - go to amazon and check out the table of contents. That will show exactly what is in this book.

I skimmed through the first section, and dove into the second. It turns out I knew more ASP.NET that I was giving myself credit. That also could be in part of being a heavy .NET winforms guy. Section 2 gave way to more interesting options for how to interact with a database and a webform in section 3 . I have a better grasp of what the various 'views' provided. Mostly I found the more high level concepts in the last chapter intriguing and useful.

There was rarely a part of this book I couldn't apply to a current issue or problem with a design at work. I had my team flip through it and they they were all pretty impressed by the detail (most of them are classic ASP folk).

It was hard to separate what I knew and the pointers written in the book. If anything I now have a solid base of what is out in ASP.NET 4.0 land, where to look up examples and a clear explanation of what the controls do (until I am more familiar with them), and how the moving parts on a webform interact.

At the end of each chapter is a nice summary of what you should have picked up, a listof terms and short definitions, and a good size chunk of exercises.

I found the exercises to be interesting and fun. I didn't have time to download the code, but kept a running sandbox application going to test out parts as advocated.

What this book is and is not:

This book functions more as a reference and 'show and tell' than an end to end project book. While Boehm does a good job of keeping the same example and adding more features to it there are parts that will be glossed over to highlight a control or a concept. To expect a single webpage to develop through the pages that includes each and every control described is just silly.

Additionally if you are looking to be handed some vague "professional web site" this is not that book. Boehm arms you with the knowledge, tools, and concepts that you should take forward to cut out your own site. You would outline what you want to do, and implement the parts as she has done in her book. So yes, you will need your own creativity and gumpshun to make that uber site you have been dreaming about. Is it possible after the book - YES!

Complex sites take time and are not something you can drop out of a toolbox. The interaction of controls and the design take a site from say - the example in this book - to something you could get paid to do. That heavy lifting is on your shoulders. I would have liked to have seen more interaction between controls, and possible some common design patterns; I'll look that up on my own.

Who is the book for:

For the more seasoned developers this book will be more of a reference. The novice it will provide you enough support to help you minimize the gaps you need to fill in.

If you are unfamiliar with Visual Studios this may help get over that "where do I start?" hump.

This is also not for someone looking to shovel this information down in a night. As I said this is a big book and the concepts may well be fully understood down the road. If you are a complete novice, sure the - professional section at the end won't make much sense. That was explained pretty well up front. Work with the IDE and ASP.NET and when things begin to click you can hit that section with more seasoned eyes.

Over all I would give this book a 7/10. I can see novice folk balking at having a missed view on what this book does, and more seasoned people having to pay a pretty penny when a quarter of the book won't be used. As I said - design patterns would be nice! Show the new folk how parts should interact to solve common problems!

(Disclosure: This book was provided to me by the publisher to review.)

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Replies To: Book Review: Murach's ASP.NET 4 Web Programming with VB2010

#2 darek9576  Icon User is offline

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Posted 29 April 2011 - 11:55 AM

Thanks for the review. I really like Murach books and his style. One side the code. Other explanation etc. I have not bought this book but do have couple of others and i think they are all great. Might have a look at this one in summer.
(I wish the publisher has sent me a copy as well :))
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#3 Sergio Tapia  Icon User is offline

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Posted 29 April 2011 - 01:22 PM

Why is this in the tutorial?
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#4 modi123_1  Icon User is offline

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Posted 29 April 2011 - 01:49 PM

That's where The Man indicated it should go.
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#5 Sergio Tapia  Icon User is offline

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Posted 29 April 2011 - 02:01 PM

Oh ok
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#6 Tenderfoot  Icon User is offline

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Posted 04 July 2013 - 05:58 AM

Did you get the paperback version? I find it's alright to read on a big enough screen with LockLizard's page layout set to 'facing', but I've been wondering whether I should invest in the paperback. I've read their C# book before (which was fantastic) and am hoping this one will live up to my expectations. My main issue at the moment seems to be to get the exercises working properly.

This post has been edited by Tenderfoot: 04 July 2013 - 05:59 AM

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#7 modi123_1  Icon User is offline

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Posted 04 July 2013 - 08:55 AM

Yes, I had gotten the actual book-book.
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