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.NET Book Review — Best Kept Secrets in .NET

Revealing the secrets to improve your productivity and code quality

Lately, it seems that every computer book that you find is a weighty tome of at least 500 or 600 pages. You groan just thinking about having to schlep another monster-size book around. It is so nice then to inform you that sometimes good things do come in small packages. This book, while only 200 pages, contains lots of nuggets that will appeal to all levels of developers.

Chapter one covers an exhaustive list of navigation short cuts that you will find in Visual Studio 2003. If you want to master getting around in Visual Studio, this is a great chapter to have nearby. I would urge Ms. Kurata to update this chapter to include Visual Studio 2005 shortcuts as well.

In chapter two's topics on Windows Forms is an important discussion on how to use the Windows Form's error provider to do proper validation in a Winform setting.

Chapter three has code tips. There are some terrific tables that outline the use of regular expressions that Apress should think about including in Nathan Good's otherwise terrific book on regular expressions Regular Expression Recipes for Windows Developers: A Problem-Solution Approach. Another interesting discussion Ms. Kurata has in this chapter is the way you can go about marking your code as obsolete by using the Obsolete Attribute in your code.

Chapter four covers various ADO.NET topics. There is an additional benefit that using a database project provides. It allows you to organize your stored procedures into meaningful folder names and to keep track of all your changes using Visual Source Safe. In this chapter, she also provides a very neat tip on viewing datasets as XML which is very handy especially when you are in the midst of debugging.

In the last chapter, Ms. Kurata discusses myriad tips and techniques to make your code more durable such as creating a general exception handler and ideas put forth by the advocates of extreme programming.

Is this book worth having? You bet ya and as Ms. Kurata notes, "Did you say 'I didn't know that!' at least one while reading this book. If so it met its object of revealing the best-kept secrets of .NET."

A Side Note
I would like to discuss an often overlooked aspect of application development that Ms. Kurata touches upon in her book. In general, we tend to view stored procedures, views, and user-defined functions as "second class" code that does not require proper tracking through source code control. It is true that SQL Server does not lend itself to placing these vital pieces of code under source code control. However, now that we have the ability to create database projects inside of Visual Studio and place them under source code control, there is no longer an excuse for not properly tracking changes made to "database" code that is just as vital to your application as your VB.NET or C# code.

Visual studio provides templates that you can use when creating new stored procedures, views, and udfs. These templates can be found in "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2003\Common7\Tools\Templates\Database Project Items". If you decide to modify the templates ,you should rename them and leave them in the same directory. They will be included in the list of possible templates to select when adding a new stored procedure in the project.

While it may take a bit of time, I would highly recommend placing all of your existing stored procedures in database projects. You will have to manually add some of the features that the template provides but it will be worth it. Also, the flow of your development will always begin and end with the database project. You will check out the database "code" when you need to modify it and you will check it back in with your modifications after you have revised it.


Title: Best Kept Secrets in .NET
Author: Deborah Kurata
Publisher: Apress
ISBN #: 1-59059-426-6
Price: US $29.99

More Stories By Steven Mandel

Steven Mandel has worked in the IT industry for over 15 years designing databases using Microsoft Access and SQL Server. He has developed Web and Windows applications using VB.NET and has written numerous articles and reviews about ASP.NET and VB.NET.

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