Book Review: Visual Basic 2010 Unleashed

Going beyond the basics of VB 2010

Visual Basic (VB) has come a long way since its inception in the early '90s.  The release of Visual Basic 2010 is a milestone not only in the language's longevity, but also its considerable power as a computing platform. When VB.NET was first released along with C#, critics like me complained that the language had been shortchanged since it did not support some of C#'s more attractive high-end features.

Such criticisms have subsided with the 2010 release as the language is almost (though still not quite yet) as powerful as C#. But the advantages of simple, minimal syntax and easy to follow operators make it an ideal language for beginning and intermediate developers, as well as a fast prototyping tool for advanced programmers.

Visual Basic 2010 Unleashed takes readers on a 1,200-plus page journey through all the useful capabilities this versatile language has to offer. Author Alessandro Del Sole, a Visual Basic MVP, covers both the Express and Professional editions, broadening the book's audience spectrum from hobbyist to corporate developer.

The book opens with an introduction to the 4.0 release of the .NET Framework, walking through the concepts and terminology of the CLR, tools and assemblies. The Visual Studio 2010 IDE is toured, followed by a dissection of code from a simple VB project. Value and Reference data types, conversion and common operators, iterations, loops, and conditional code blocks are then discussed.

Debugging is reviewed within the context of the IDE (locals, command, call stack, watch, threads and auto windows), followed by error-handling syntax. Chapters explaining classes, objects, modules, structures and enumerations, inheritance, interfaces, generics, delegates and events, collections, and "generate from usage" code techniques round out the second part of the book.

Part 3 delves into advanced VB language features (including file manipulation and the "My" namespace), and Part 4 spends time with ADO.NET and working with LINQ, including the new PLINQ tool. Part 5 reviews standard Windows Forms applications as well as creating XAML-based Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) programs. Part 6 introduces ASP.NET-based VB web applications, and Part 7 contains 40-plus pages on networking.

Part 8 goes deeper into the .NET Framework by covering object serialization, multithreading, parallel programming, reflection, attributes, bridging .NET to COM objects, Win32 API calls, and Microsoft Office. Part 9 reviews application deployment via Windows Installer and ClickOnce (Microsoft's application deployment technology that allows developers to publish Windows-based applications to a web server or network file share for simplified installation). The book concludes in Part 10 by reviewing a number of various web topics, including templates, Visual Studio Extensibility, application profiling, test-driven development, and code contracts.

Two appendixes on installing Visual Studio 2010 as well as a collection of helpful VB resources and tools round out this huge volume of information. Sample code from the book and 4 PDF'd chapters can be downloaded from the book's website.

Useful notes and tips are interspersed throughout the book, the kind of insight gained from years of VB experience of which the author has clearly logged. I found the book's chapter on LINQ and demonstrations of PLINQ especially well done: clear description, code and execution.

Like most technical texts I read these days, I read this book is on my iPad. To date, it has been the largest book I have read in this electronic format, and I was pleased to see how well-formatted the book remained throughout. Color screen captures, nicely formatted code listings (though extra points would have gone toward color-coding syntax), and the inherent electronic book's ability to perform rapid searches, bookmarks, and links make this electronic reference edition a keeper for any VB'er fortunate enough to also have use an iPad for such educational purposes.

Overall, if you are seeking a comprehensive, easy-to-follow reference on all things related to the most recent release of Visual Basic, Visual Basic 2010 Unleashed is the book for you.

 

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Website: http://www.informit.com/store/product.aspx?isbn=0672331004

Price: $49.99

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