The Murach publishing house are unusual in that they only use a small group of in-house authors and all their books use the same structure and layout style. This style is their individual “facing pages” approach.
How it works is that each pair of pages throughout the book deal with the same topic or sub-topic. On the left hand page you get an explanation of the subject in hand. Many times this explanation will be all you need if it’s an uncomplicated topic or you‘re already partly familiar with it or it’s just one of those things you can grasp straight away.
But if you need further explanation or code samples or screenshots to clarify things then you will find these on each right hand page. It’s a simple concept, but a very effective one. If, like me, you like to skim (or go back sometimes and very quickly review) a topic, then this facing page layout is absolutely perfect.
The book is split into five parts, dealing with :
- Introduction to Relational Databases
- Three-layer architecture (splitting the application into separate sections that deal with presentation, business logic and database tasks.)
- Databases in Web applications
- Further detailed coverage of more advanced ADO.NET topics.
- XML, Server Explorer and Crystal reports
Author Ann Boehm works through each of these complex and wide-ranging topics in a clear and logical manner.
One of the features of Murach’s books that I always applaud is that you can rely on them to take nothing for granted. For example, they don’t assume that the reader knows how to attach the downloadable SQL Server database samples. In a handy Appendix at the end of the book you will find help on key tasks such as:
How to install SQL Server 2005 Express
How to attach, detach and restore the database for the book and
How to grant ASP.NET access to the database.
While they are all easy to do - once you know how - these are the kind of things that will drive a beginner near to tears of frustration if they hit this hurdle alone. It is this kind of attention to the reader’s needs that sets Murach books apart from some others.
As is standard nowadays, you can download the full set of samples used in the book. Most of the samples are grouped into complete applications of varying size and this makes them much more much real world friendly than a bunch of small unrelated code snippets you may see elsewhere.
This is another high quality book from the Murach stable. Overall, if you want a good introduction to programming ADO.NET 2.0 in Visual Basic 2005 then this book is well worth the money.