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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Even many of Microsoft’s detractors admire its development tools. They might not admit it, but thousands of Linux developers wish they had tools as productive as Visual Studio .NET.
Microsoft’s new version of Visual Studio .NET is the best yet. While not as radical a leap as last year’s introduction to .NET, it’s still full of significant improvements for working developers.
There’s only one problem: Most books about .NET programming focus on the languages -- Visual Basic .NET, C#, and so forth. That’s natural, but both authors and developers find that they’ve neglected to take full advantage of the development environment’s power.
The solution: Inside Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2003, by Brian Johnson, Craig Skibo, and Marc Young. This isn’t a language book. It’s a book about squeezing maximum productivity from VS.NET itself.
You’ll start with a look at what’s new in Visual Studio .NET 2003: new compiler options, updated class libraries, C++ attributes, improved standards conformance, and more. Next, the authors consider VS.NET 2003’s “solutions and projects” development paradigm, designed to help you efficiently organize and manage references, data connections, folders, files, and other project elements.
There’s a full chapter on using the Visual Studio .NET 2003 editor more efficiently -- including built-in shortcuts, syntax coloring, line numbering, outlining, dynamic Help, wildcards and regular expressions, and search. The authors also cover VS.NET 2003’s significantly upgraded IntelliSense features for helping you write more code automatically -- and avoiding more errors.
If you’ve never used Visual Studio macros, you owe it to yourself to read Chapter 4. VS.NET’s macros facility exposes almost all the functionality you can access through the automation object model, in easy, scriptable form -- using VB.NET, not primitive old VBScript. You’ll start with basic macro recording and editing, then learn how to extend your macros with .NET assemblies; share them with others; even turn your macro into a full-fledged VS.NET add-in.
Speaking of add-ins, you may not realize just how extensible Visual Studio .NET is. Part II focuses entirely on extending VS.NET. It introduces Microsoft’s Add-in Wizard, architecture, commands, and the automation object model, then show how to manipulate projects and solutions programmatically. You’ll learn how to create your own VS.NET wizards; even how to program the VS.NET user interface.
As you move towards deployment, you’ll find coverage of some powerful (if underpublicized) command-line options for building and testing your Visual Studio .NET 2003 solutions. You’ll find a full chapter on designing Setup projects with the latest version of Windows Installer: creating custom installation projects; editing the registry; programming custom actions and launch conditions; and using merge modules. There’s even a quick overview of version control with Microsoft SourceSafe.
While the authors have targeted VS.NET 2003 Professional, their coverage is also applicable to Enterprise Edition, and most of it’s relevant to Standard Edition, too. Whatever version you choose, this book will help you leverage more of its power, more of its productivity, more quickly. Bill Camarda
Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks for Dummies, Second Edition.