Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Book Review: Pro .NET 2.0 XML

Pro .NET 2.0 XML by Bipin Joshi. Published by Apress, ISBN 1-59059-835-3

This book has a number of flaws, but it's still a useful book for learning about using XML in the .NET world.

First off, the flaws: it’s rather shallow and leaves out details or concerns on a number of topics.  Examples include skimming over a DataSet’s ability to infer a schema when reading data in.  Are there any drawbacks?  When would you use this?  When might you want to avoid it?  Secondly, the voice is a litttle clunky at times and there are some annoying typos/grammar issues; some better editing would have helped the author out a lot.  Additionally, I found it frustrating that a lot of the text is little more than a walk through of the code examples, lending little insight about the concepts.  I found myself thinking to the tenet behind good code documentation: tell me the why, not the what. 

Lastly, and this is an annoyance I’ve noticed in a number of books: default names are blithely accepted for controls, leaving the book littered with code examples like

private void button2_CLick(object sender, EventArgs e)


comboBox1.Text = ...

textBox1.Text = ...

textBox2.Text = ...


I find this incredibly annoying since there’s no connection whatsoever to the example graphic.  It’s bad in code, and it’s bad in a book.

So with the bad news out of the way, let me focus on the positives, because they’re definitely there.  There’s a lot of content on a broad range of topics.  There’s a very solid introduction to XML which is soundly and concisely written.  The discussion of SAX and DOM is nicely done, and there are a large number of fundamentals which are well-written. 

You’ll be able to learn the basics on things like XML’s use of DTDs, how schemas roll into things, the basics of validation, and a number of other topics.  The chapter on XML in ADO.NET has some good coverage on XML support in DataSets, and there are solid chapters on Web Services, SQL Server support, and a chapter which combines remoting, XML in ASP.NET, and configuration files.  Joshi also wraps in a chapter on XML’s role in WCF.

I think the book’s a solid introduction to XML in the .NET world, but I wish it hit a bit more detail and discussed possible tradeoffs or impacts of choices.

1 comment:

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