Murach s Visual Basic 2008
The first thing to note about this book and its C# companion title, Murach s C# 2008 by Joel Murach, is that the books have more differences than most books that come in both VB.NET and C# versions. The differences are not great the examples are the same, and the text is mostly the same but the organization is a bit different. For instance, in the VB.NET version, database programming is covered before object-oriented programming, but in the C# version, the order of these topics is reversed. Rather than simply convert the samples between VB.NET and C#, it is clear that the authors gave some thought as to the different needs of VB.NET and C# programmers.
This is an excellent book for beginners. Section One starts with the basics of working with Visual Studio and getting a simple program working and builds from there. Murach s Visual Basic 2008 even has an appendix that describes how to install Visual Studio and SQL Server Express, and how to download and connect to the sample database used in the book. It has lots of detailed instructions, and does everything in a step by step manner. The book also very thorough. Even as an experienced VB.NET programmer, I picked up a new trick every few pages. This section also covers the Visual Studio Smart Compile Auto Correction and the VB.NET My features, both VB.NET-specific.
The second section covers the basics of the VB.NET language, then expands into arrays and collections. I especially like that it covers strings and dates at a level that is useful for everyday programming, explaining the differences between the .NET DateTime functions and the VB.NET language-specific DateTime functions. I may keep this book handy just for the information it has on formatting dates, which I still find difficult to get just right. This section also covers the basics of creating and using classes, including how to use Visual Studio to automatically create class diagrams. This is where Boehm introduces debugging using Visual Studio, again covering details many books neglect. I like how this book teaches not only VB.NET, but Visual Studio as well. This is important, because for most programmers, .NET programming is as much about Visual Studio as it is about .NET or VB.NET.
The third section starts with a quick overview of client-server databases and then shows how to query data from a single table and from multiple joined tables. The section continues by demonstrating how to connect to databases and retrieve data by having Visual Studio do the hard work. It also covers all the ADO.NET data classes and how they work together, and how to bind data to all the .NET controls including controls like the DataGrid control, which can display whole tables, and those like the TextBox control, which can only display single value. Murach s Visual Basic 2008 then moves into more advanced techniques, like parameterized queries and using the ToolStrip control to allow users to create their own queries. The section closes by detailing how to do by hand all the work that Visual Studio had been doing for us; note that most programmers creating real-world database applications do this work by hand because they need the added control over the details.
The fourth section covers object-oriented programming, from the basics to nested classes, and how to use classes to organize applications.
The final section, titled Other programming skills, and has five chapters. Chapters 21 and 22 cover reading and writing text, binary, and XML files. Chapter 23 covers the new LINQ database technologies in .NET 3.5 (you ll need a book just on LINQ to really get an understanding of this, but this book provides a good introduction). Chapter 24 provides more information on user interfaces, including single and multi-document interfaces, menus, toolbars, and adding help to an application. The final chapter covers how to deploy an application after you ve built it, including XCopy deployment of Windows applications, and ClickOnce deployment of Web applications. It continues with creating set-up programs, and ends with deploying database applications.
This is probably the best introductory book I ve seen on programming .NET. It is aimed at a college-level audience who know nothing about programming. It assumes nothing, but gets straight to the point with no pandering. It explains everything in detail, but never wastes time sugar-coating anything. This book is not for advanced .NET programmers, but it doesn t try to be. It simply tries to be the best introductory book on VB.NET, and it may well have reached that goal.
I write software for psychologists. Though they are not programmers, many have some experience with VB6, and would like the ability to make small changes to the programs I write for them. At this point, this is the only book I am recommending to them.
Title: Murach s Visual Basic 2008
Author: Anne Boehm
Web Site: http://www.murach.com
Page Count: 820