Author: Alex Mackey
Publisher: Apress, 2010
Aimed at: Developers wanting to know what is new in .NET 4.0
Pros: Overview of .NET 4
Cons: An uncritical approach
Reviewed by: Ian Elliot
This is a book that is going to have a fairly short window of usefulness. It is really nothing more than an overview of what is on offer in .NET 4.0 and Visual Studio 2010.
It isn't as blatant as a publicity shot on behalf of Microsoft but it occasionally does read a bit like one. The main reason for this is that, generally towards the end of each chapter, there are excerpts from Microsoft blogs and long quotes from Microsoft team leaders. This isn't quite as bad as it might sound in that they do give you some clue as to the way Microsoft regards each of the technologies described.
Overall the tone of the book is fairly neutral but tends towards giving Microsoft the benefit of the doubt. For example in the section on Linq and the Entity Framework the big question is raised - is Linq dead? The answer seems to be "not dead" but it's a bit of a zombie. A more aggressive author might have taken Microsoft to task either for misleading us into thinking one technology was good and then pushing us into yet another or for simply allowing internal politics to spill out into the cool and logical world of development.
The book takes each of the major .NET topics and goes over what they are and what is new in .NET 4.0. Visual Studio 2010 is more or lest dismissed by Chapter 2. Surely there is a bit more to say? Then we have the discussion of a lot of mostly well known facts. How the CLR/BCL has changed, parallel extensions, WF, WCF, Entity Framework, WCF data services, ASP .NET, Ajax, jQuery, ASP .NET MVC, Silverlight and Azure. If you are unsure about what any of these is about then you might find the summary in the book useful, but be warned they are not deep.
On the other hand given the beta of Visual Studio 2010 and all of the technologies have been publicly available before the launch and Microsoft hasn't been slow to advertise the new features it is bringing to the technology you might wonder why we need this in print form. About the only use I can see for this book is if you need to explain to a newbie or a non-technical person what the new .NET 4 has to offer and in this case it is probably too technical.
This book could have done the development community a service by providing a critical account of .NET 4 - what are its strengths and more importantly what are its weaknesses - instead it is more a sales brochure.