VB.NET Language in a Nutshell, 2nd Ed., by Steven Roman, Ron Petrusha, and Paul Lomax, (Paperback, 682 pages); ISBN 0-596-00308-0

Reviewed by: Songmuh Jong, send e-mail
Published by: O'Reilly & Associates, go to the web site
Requires: Visual Studio .NET or Microsoft.NET Framework SDK
MSRP: $44.95

Visual Basic has been one of the most favorable development environments in the Windows world. Because of the language limitation though, Visual Basic developers have fallen behind the race in Web development. Although ASP fills in the gap to some extent, it is clear that Visual Basic alone cannot do Web development. Now, VB.NET has the potential to change the picture. The availability of this book will undoubtedly speed up the process of acceptance for this new version of VB. As of this writing, an evaluation copy (60 days trial) of Visual Studio .NET can be ordered from Microsoft web site.

Everyone who has access to Visual Studio .NET agrees that VB.NET is so different from the traditional Visual Basic that it is essentially a new language from the inside out. In fact, it is more similar to Java than Visual Basic. The authors of the book however, suggest that VB.NET is a natural transition for Visual Basic in this Web-centric age. Whether you think their point of view is reasonable or not, read the excellent discussion in chapter one. This book starts with a sample C program to demonstrate that VB.NET is much simpler than the C language bringing forward a clear message: VB.NET has to be viewed from the perspective of C rather than VB.

Part I of this book provides concise and focused discussion of basic concepts in VB.NET, including program structure, variables and data types, OOP, brief .NET Framework concept, list of .NET Framework classes, events and delegates, attributes and error handling. The attribute concept is thoroughly discussed and is also available via download from the product Web site (see below).

Part II is a single chapter on the VB.NET language and selected framework classes. This part and the appendices form the core reference and the majority of the book. Here, readers can see how big the changes are for Visual Basic. The CD that's included in the back of the book provides a showcase of VB.NET help that can integrate into Visual Studio.NET. Therefore, the part II content can be accessible from inside the Visual Studio.NET development environment. While this is useful, I wish the authors would make the example codes in Part I downloadable so that readers do not have to transcribe from the book.

I am certainly impressed by the amount of information authors of this book have included, especially the first few chapters and the appendices. Even the reference section is much more readable than any other "In a Nutshell" book. However, I can also see that there was a rush to publish this book. The discussion in this book does not fully address many of its target readers: VB programmers who are coming from VB 6 or earlier. For example, the authors use the ILDASM disassembler to dig into the compiled codes, but did not even mention what ILDASM is. They also did not explain how the IL was examined. In other words, the authors assumed that readers must be familiar with the Microsoft .NET SDK before reading the book, although this requirement is not obvious from the preface.

Thanks to the authors, I now know that VB.NET codes can be compiled from the command line, independent of Visual Studio.NET. The freely available SDK for Microsoft .NET Framework includes a command line compiler (vbc.exe). One word of caution - you need to include the Microsoft.NET Framework as part of your PATH or you'll get lots of errors about namespace not found. This reminds me of my first few days learning Java.

In summary, this book is a handy reference for VB.NET language itself. A complete collection of references for VB.NET should include this book plus a reference for Microsoft.NET Framework along with one or more books on VB.NET Programming.

Letters to the Editor are welcome and occasionally abused in public. Send e-mail to: whine@kickstartnews.com




© Copyright 2000-2006 kickstartnews.com. All rights reserved. legal notice
home | previous reviews | forums | about us | search | store | subscribe


Forums Search Home Previous Reviews About Us Store Subscribe