Author: Nick Randolph, David Gardner, Chris Anderson & Michael Minutillo
This is a brick of a book that is clearly designed to be all things to all readers. Its range of coverage of Visual Studio is amazing in the sense that it makes you quite amazed that you have even managed to use VS for all these years without finding it difficult. It is a bit like a millipede falling over its own legs just after being asked how it manages a thousand legs.
Publisher: Wrox, 2010
Aimed at: Wide range of users of Visual Studio
Pros: Covers a huge range of topics
Cons: Many of which are not core to using VS
Reviewed by: Mike James
This book has 57 chapters - although four of them are available online and aren't actually included in the printed book. Even so it's a lot of chapters. It is a good idea to put advanced material or material targeting a minority of users on the web - but it always raises the question in the readers mind of "why isn't the whole book on the web". The reason is, of course, that you will pay money for a paper book but you almost certainly will not for web site access alone.
The book starts off with the basics and for most readers these will be too basic. Do you really need screen dumps showing you what VS looks like in action? However it quickly moves on to more interesting topics - customisation, hints and tips, using the class designer, server explorer and so on.
Part III continues in the same way with "Digging Deeper" Here we tackle some broader ideas - unit testing, automatic documentation, code checking, code generation, project templates and language specific features.
The next part of the book, Rich Client Applications, could probably be dropped. It simply goes over how to create Windows Forms and WPF type applications, using Silverlight, SharePoint and so on. This is really outside of the scope of the book and looks at other technologies rather than Visual Studio. Visual Studio that would naturally turn up as a participant in any book on any one of these technologies not the other way around.
You might want to say the same of Part VI, Data, but this subject is at least heavily catered for in Visual Studio and at least its first chapter deals with using the Visual Database Tools. From this point on, however, the book goes off into LINQ and ADO which are not really on the topic of Visual Studio - again it is more a question of how Visual Studio fits into these bigger technologies.
Part VII continues to veer off-course with in-depth looks at "application services" - WCF, WF, synchronisation services and WCF RIA services. Part VII is on Configuration and resources and once again is mostly off topic.
Finally we get to Part IX which is about Visual Studio - the Visual Studio Debugger to be precise. There is a lot of general debugging information but there is also much that is highly specific to Visual Studio. Part X is on build and deployment and starts with a chapter on upgrading from VS 2008.
If you were expecting lots of coverage of creating add-ins and macros then you will be disappointed. We only get to this topic in Part XI and it's over in a flash. It covers the Visual Studio automation model, add-ins, macros and the Managed Extensions Framework in four shortish chapters. If you blink you will miss it. Then on to the advanced or should that be "minority" topics of using Visual Studio Ultimate - which are not included on paper.
This is essentially a using Visual Studio book. A lot of the material could equally well be in a book on an alternative core technology - C#, Visual Basic, WCF, WPF etc - where Visuals Studio would play a background role. There are very few chapters that are about Visual Studio used in more advanced ways - very little on add-ins and nothing at all about extending Visual Studio to host other languages, tinkering with IntelliSense or using the standalone Visual Studio shell in your own apps.
As long as what you are looking for is a "how to use Visual Studio" book then this is the book for you. If you are looking for something deeper look elsewhere.