Author: Klaus Loffelmann & Sarika Calla Purohit
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Aimed at: Experienced VB programmers
Pros: A logical coverage
Cons: Not an exploration of VB
Reviewed by: Alex Armstrong
A handbook should be different from a cookbook or an introductory book. What does this particular handbook have to offer the VB programmer?
The book is composed of six parts, ranging from introductory to advanced. The authors are most probably not native English language speakers and while they do much better in English than most of us could do in a second language, there are times when it reads oddly. Even the title of the first section probably should be "Beginning with the Language and Tools" Given that most of the roughness in the language is very small, we need to blame the editorial and production process where it could have been corrected so very easily. There are also typos throughout the book - some of which stop code working while others make it harder to follow the examples. Overall though, these are minor problems, unless that is you are sensitive to such errors.
Part I goes over some history of Basic and the fundamentals of getting started with Visual Basic .NET. Then it goes on to the idea of NET and an introduction to Visual Studio. There is a brief mention of upgrading VB6 to VB .NET, but not an in-depth discussion. Chapter 4 deals with Windows Forms, Chapter 5 covers WPF and the section closes with a look at .NET data types. Overall it is a strange mixture of introductory and advanced material. It almost certainly isn't suitable for the non-programmer, but it might allow a beginning VB programmer to graduate to a higher level.
Part II is an introduction to object-oriented programming. If follows the usual pattern of introducing classes, then inheritance, polymorphism and so on. Chapter 11 deals with using structures and value types, and Chapter 12 is on boxing and casting. From this point we move into more complex issues - garbage collection, operators, events, delegates, lambdas, enumerations, generics and advanced types.
Part III is called Programming with .NET Framework Data Structures. It is essentially an overview, in two chapters, of using the data classes, including the simple array type. Part VI, about simplifications in VB 2010, again consists of two chapters one on using My, and the other on the application framework. Part V is about data Linq, Linq to XML and Linq to Entities. The final part is about parallel programming, and the Task Parallel Library in particular.
This isn't a bad guide to Visual Basic. It introduces ideas reasonably well and in most cases it is complete and logical with few forward references. Its only real failing is that it doesn't go anywhere that other books on the subject don't go, but then it does claim to be a handbook and not an explorers guide.
As long as you aren't upset by the occasional odd use of language, this is a good book to add to your collection.