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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Who put the fun back into VB.NET programming fundamentals? If Anne Robinson ever asks you that question, here’s the answer: Karl Moore. Moore, a senior editor at the VB technology site VB-World who spent years covering technology as a BBC radio personality, will take you all the way from painting your first form through building web services -- painlessly.
Karl Moore’s Visual Basic .NET: The Tutorials is organized into eight multi-chapter tutorials, each covering one essential area of VB.NET development. Getting started. Database access and integration. Basic ASP.NET web development. Writing mobile applications with Microsoft’s new .NET Mobile Internet Toolkit. Using object-oriented programming techniques. Building the aforementioned Web services. Moving from VB6 (if you’ve got any experience there). And finally, three chapters of tips and techniques, from beginner to advanced.
Moore doesn’t assume much from you, except a willingness to smile at the occasional goofy aside. Right out of the chute, in Chapter 1, you’ll create your first program (not “Hello World” but “MyFirstGroovyApp”); create a button and write the code to make it do something, then compile the whole shebang. By now, you’re hooked. Moore walks you through VB.NET’s menagerie of controls, shows how to make controls respond to events (the heart of Windows programming); then introduces variables (“Simple as an amoeba? You bet your bottom dollar, kiddo...”) You’ll expand your application with menus, methods, modules, and multiple forms; then learn how to handle errors (including how to use VB.NET’s new and powerful Try-Catch-Finally blocks).
That’s the first tutorial. In the second, you’ll focus on databases -- starting with the Northwind sample database built into Access; moving on to your own Access databases; learning the rudiments of SQL, then moving on to SQL Server, Web applications, and even transactions. Moore alleges that transactions are “easy as blowing your nose”; then, working in ASP.NET, he actually proves it. There’s also a full chapter on creating reports with the Crystal Reports designer bundled with Visual Studio .NET.
In Tutorial 3, you move deeper into ASP.NET, learning how to paint Web Forms just as you’ve already been painting Windows interfaces; adding controls, and gluing everything together with VB.NET code. He introduces the Calendar Control, one example of how much easier ASP.NET makes life; then presents and explains ten exceptionally useful code snippets (for redirection, cookies, browser detection, file uploading, and more). Tutorial 3 closes with forms authentication for restricting access to your site to users with recognized names and passwords.
After a taste of mobile web programming, Moore moves into object-oriented programming. Sure, you’re already building objects and classes: now you’re going to understand the implications and begin making the most of the objects you’re creating. Then, it’s on to an overview of Web Services: what they do, how to create one, and how to access one.
The book closes with a laundry list of handy tips and snippets. (Adding “smart navigation” to your Web Forms. Reading an XML file. Checking for leap years. Using simple encryption without the overhead of 128-bit whatever.)
It’s all written in Moore’s utterly inimitable style. (Building a snazzy user interface, Moore says it’s “looking smarter than Albert Einstein on Gingko Biloba.” Introducing [application deployment], Moore feels "a little like Zsa Zsa Gabor’s fifth husband: I know how to do it, but how do I make it interesting?” Then there’s the quote attributed to Richard Cook: “Programming today is a race between software engineers trying to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning.”
The book’s appendices are downright useful. When you create a new VB project, VB.NET scatters dozens of files and references all over the place: One appendix tells you what those all are. Another gives you the standard naming conventions for everything from forms and classes to user-defined types and Crystal reports. (Stuff that experienced developers seem to have absorbed by magic but you can’t seem to find written down anywhere.)
Simple. Practical. Fun. That’s VB.NET -- when it’s taught according to Moore’s Law. (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.