Posted by: rcosic | 18/02/2008

Book Review: MCTS Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-536): Microsoft® .NET Framework 2.0—Application Development Foundation

Title: MCTS Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-536): Microsoft® .NET Framework 2.0—Application Development Foundation
Authors: Tony Northrup and Shawn Wildermuth, with Bill Ryan of GrandMasters
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Pages: 1088
Links: http://www.microsoft.com/MSPress/books/9469.aspx

Overall mark: C

This book is intended, as the title says, for preparing the first exam in a row for MCTS certificate. The certificate, which, in difference of the previous ones (MCSD, MCAD), it has relatively more useful and worthful path, and that is, to prepare a programmer – software ingenieur for real life (kidding, for life with the .NET 2.0 platform). Jeez, what a pitiful mission.

Unfortunatelly, I’m a little bit late with the review, although I’ve read the bool long time ago. More over, I wanted to start a series of reviews of dev-books exactly with this book especially because it is first from the new series.

Anyway, I’m not a fan of books which begin with two or three introductionary chapters in whom ‘nothing happens’. So, chapters like ‘what’s an object, what’s a class, what is .NET framework’. ‘Haven sake, these topics just permits the programmer to dive with the matter, so I just avoid those books or easily override these intros.
One of the examples of good book which follows the principles ‘load me with the meat’, is Pro SQL Server 2005, which is made by the principle – one topic – one chapter. No intros. Just great. But, not this one..

So, let’s begin…

First, the arrangement of the chapters is bad and unpractical.
Let’s just say, the topics like types, classes, events, generics and similar are situated in two different chapters and moreover with a hole in between (it’s about chapter 1 – Framework Fundamentals, and chapter 4 – Collections and Generics). I think that the topics are unnecessary splitted on two different chapters just to conform the pattern of ’16-chapters-per-book’, which becomes a certain standard of ‘good book’. Phew!

Also, regex, as an important part and relatively complex for a simple programmer is included in chapter with the encoding, which is the topic by itself enough for one or two pages.It would have been better to put the regex inside a separate chapter, maybe under the appendices.

The similar situation is with two concurrent topics in the chapter 8: Application Domains and Services. I mean, why one chapter for such isolated topics? Plus, we do not know about what services we are talking about?(actually, it’s about NT services). More, the same mistake is in the following chapter (chapter 9: Installing and Configuring Applications).

Wrong ‘helter skelter’ lineage is with the topics regarding graphics, text and multimedia. It’s just too many saturated chapters along the book.

And now, listen carefully: a whole chapter about writing an email? It’s just unbeliveable as it seems. The thema is so trivial that it can be written on one page. Bravo.

Definitely you can notice the different writing style in forming of some chapters, which is product of the cooperation of different authors, which is generally ok (maybe there are more of them, but not mentioned 😉 . But, to not exagurate, it’s ok for a book for general purpose book, and for prepare yourself for that exam.

It’s nice positive surprise to read the chapter about .NET security. In matter of fact, to me, this topic is always hard to read and understand (probably because Microsoft itself in this case don’t give concise rules and solutions), so it was good and concrete.
Reflection and interoperability follows this path (so, probably it’s the case of the same author(s)).Also, there is serialization, threading, also very good explained.

Alltogether, the book is good to read if you’re going (still) on the exam.
And if you aren’t, at least you can read it, especially more ‘techical’ chapters.

Nice reading!

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