I've bought several books on Windows Presentation Foundation over the past few months and I've reviewed a couple of them already. As is usually the case, each of the books has something to offer and it's a rare day when you can find all the information you need on a complex, wide ranging topic like WPF in one book.
Without detracting from the other books that I admire, I think if one book does come closest to being a one-stop source then possibly it is the Pro WPF book by Matthew MacDonald. As with all his books, coverage of topics is comprehensive, detailed and accurate. At just under 1000 pages it's definitely a heavyweight, although you're unlikely to want to be parted from it long enough to use it as a doorstop.
The author's writing style is friendly without being patronising. There are no cartoons or corny jokes, but screen shots are used where appropriate and his approach is light and easy to follow - not an easy achievement in a topic as complex as WPF.
If I have a gripe about the book, it's the same complaint I've been making since the middle of 2007 - this is yet another WPF book that only has code behind samples in C#. (And in the case of this particular publication that's a piece of information the publishers chose not to mention on the cover). That said, the samples are still clear and I had very little difficulty translating to VB.NET where necessary. Bearing in mind that much of the new material you need to get to grips with in WPF is on the XAML side, this isn't quite as big a problem as it could have been.
Of the books I have on WPF, I turn to this one early in most researches - although as you'll have gathered from my earlier comments, searching for answers while maneuvering through the WPF minefield almost always involves more than one book, often plus an online search. On the subject of search access, Apress offer a PDF version of this book for an additional $10. For a book with this amount of content it's tempting. However, if you need to preserve your cash, the Index in this book is in fact particularly good. There's definitely something to be said though for being able to take a snippet of information you think you read in the book somewhere and do a trawl through the PDF version to home in on it.
Still with cash preservation in mind, I see that the Second Edition is due out early in 2008, this one updated for the 3.5 Framework, so you may want to wait for that one to appear on the shelves. I also note that a VB.2008 version of this new edition is on the schedule, but there is no publication date announced yet, so it's not likely to be any time soon.
I didn't see a Contents list on the Apress web site, so I'll list the chapters below:
- Introducing WPF
- The Application
- Dependency Properties and Routed Events
- Classic Controls
- Pages and Navigation
- Shapes, Transforms and Brushes
- Geometries, Drawings and Visuals
- Control Templates
- Data Binding
- Data Templates, Data Views and Data Providers
- Lists, Trees and Menus
- Sound and Video
- 3-D Drawing
- Custom Elements
- Interacting with Windows Forms
- ClickOnce Deployment
As I say, it's comprehensive. All in all, I consider this book to be a good investment. I have several of Matthew MacDonald's earlier books, which I have always found relevant, well-written and useful; this book is in the same mould.