Developing Applications with Windows Workflow Foundation (LiveLessons)

Author:  Brian Noyes
Publisher: Addison-Wesley, 2007
Pages: 80
ISBN: 978-0321503138
Aimed at: Developers new to WF
Rating: 2
Pros: Noyes knows his stuff
Cons: The format is very poor; very introductory technical level
Reviewed by: Dave Wheeler

I really didn’t like this “book”. And I use the word “book” very advisedly, as it is really nothing more than a DVD consisting of a set of twenty short, screen-captured videos in which Noyes demonstrates the basics of Windows Workflow Foundation (WF). The first problem I found is a purely practical one. Having little videos showing how to perform tasks is fine, especially for the highly interactive nature of the WF designer, but the player is atrociously bad when it comes to jumping around in the videos: it took up to 30 seconds in some cases on my powerful development desktop to attempt to shift forward a minute or two in the video. Annoyingly, there are no quick index points within each video, or any way to mark your own, which makes this product pretty useless if you want to go back and quickly locate something that you watched before.

Incredibly, I could find no captions with the videos, so if you’re audibly challenged then this product is absolutely no use to you whatsoever. Increasingly, print books come with audio versions (or PDF versions that can be used with screen reader technology), so Addison-Wesley clearly understand the importance of accessibility. They just didn’t appear to bother catering for the hard of hearing with this product. I also got really annoyed with the fact that the last minute of every “lesson” was an advert for LiveLessons. Sure, you can skip them, but all I kept thinking was “No, this £50 video is not in the same league as a proper training course (or even a proper book); it never will be; please stop trying to convince me otherwise.”

What’s good about this book is Noyes himself. He presents the material clearly and he covers the basics well. The videos are very practically orientated - very much of the “to do this, drag this here and set this property” nature - with the exception of the first couple of videos that discuss (reasonably well) the architecture and motivation for WF. I just felt short changed that he didn’t write a proper book on the subject, as that would clearly be worth reading.

On a technical level, the material is very basic in its nature. This is by no means a problem if all you want is a high-level overview of WF, but because it barely touches on the important aspects required if you’re going to do any real work with WF, you will need to go out and buy yourself another book.

Considering that this “book” is nearly 50% more expensive than the considerably better Pro WF by Brian Bukovics (ISBN: 1590597788), and will teach you a lot less than the much cheaper Windows Workflow Foundation (Step by Step) by Kent Scribner (ISBN: 073562335X), I find it hard to see the value in this offering. So unless you really hate reading books - and this is the age of YouTube, after all - I’d recommend that you avoid this title.

<Reviewed in VSJ>

Last Updated ( Thursday, 15 January 2009 )