Author: Zain Naboulsi & Sara Ford
Publisher: Microsoft Press, 2010
Aimed at: Users of multiple versions of Visual Studio
Pros: Lists some useful keypress shortcuts
Cons: Tedious and includes nothing undocumented elsewhere
Reviewed by: Alex Armstrong
Subtitled "Getting More Productive with Microsoft Visual Studio" this is a book of hints and tips covering VS 2005, 2008 and 2010.
What you think about this book depends very much on how you react to hints-and-tips that are in their essence very simple and amount to "if you want to do this then press this". This is not rocket science but a list of keypresses and other shortcuts, any one of which might save you time. In my case my reaction was fairly negative. It was tedious stuff to read and while I did learn the occasional useful something the reward to effort rate was quite low. Perhaps the format of the book could be changed to give you the information more quikcly or, more likely a book is the wrong format for this sort of information.
Part 1 is on productivity and is the main part of the book presenting lots of hints-and-tips. Chapter 1 is called getting started and it presents some very basic stuff. This ranges from running more than one copy of VS to moving the buttons on the toolbars. A lot of programmers, and indeed just users of Microsoft products will already know how to do many of the general things explained here.
Chapter 2 is called Projects and Items. This is a bit more advanced and deals with things like creating your own items templates, using the template Wizard and so on. Chapter 3:Getting to know the Environment covers rearranging windows, working with the Toolbox, window layouts, commands and keyboard accelerators. Chapter 4 is on working with documents and covers basic editing and navigation tasks. Chapter 5 deals with the search facilities in VS including Quick Find and Replace and more complex searches.
The final two chapters in the section are about programming. Chapter 6 deals with using language specific help such as intellisense, statement completion, and program formatting. The end of the chapter describes how to use code snippets in popular languages and the HTML editor. Chapter 7 deals with debugging which can be a complicated task. The book however confines itself to explaining how to edit the ToDo list and do things like set breakpoints and conditional breakpoints. It also explains some of the technology specific tools like the WPF tree visualizer.
The second part of the book is about extensions but not creating them using them. After a quick introduction to extension the book moves on to consider some standard extensions. This is basically a catalog of what is available and a brief guide to what they do and how to use them.
There is useful information in this book but it will be diluted for any reader why the things they regard as obvious. In addition the coverage of all of the major versions of Visual Studio is both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing if you happen to be using a mixed set of Visual Studio installations but if you simply want to concentrate on the current version the extra information simply makes the book harder to read.
Overall there isn't very much, if anything, in this book that you couldn't find out by reading the documentation or searching for answers to specific questions on the web. In the main this is a very simple book that lists lots of shortcut keypresses for doing things like closing toolbars or windows etc. There probably is room for a book describing how to use Visual Studio for the beginner together with some advanced material on organizing complex projects but this book isn't it.
Only buy it if you need a reference work because you can't be bothered to use the web or if you really do have to work with a range of Visual Studio versions.