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Book Review: Understanding .NET, Second Edition

It's always great when a book you really appreciate shows up in a second edition that's even better than its predecessor. That's indisputably the case with David Chappell's Understanding .NET, Second Edition (Addison Wesley Professional, 2006, ISBN: 978-0-321-19404-6).

Understanding .NETis not only a great reference for professional software developers, but it is also a great tool to keep on your bookshelf to educate managers who are smart enough to want to understand .NET a bit better and are ready to dig into features and functions at a high level to learn more about it.

That's another way of saying that this is not a "how-to" book, nor is it by any stretch a programmer's guide; rather, it's a concepts, strategies, and general reference book on the .NET Framework. In fact, because so many reviewers (including yours truly) recommend the book as a great tool for developers to start learning about .NET, this also qualifies it as a great "management explanation" as well (at least, IMHO).

What Chappell's book does, and does very well, is to illuminate what the .NET Framework (through version 2.0) brings to developers and how its functions and services work to support applications.

You'll find intelligible descriptions and overviews of Web Services, the Common Language Runtime (CLR), comparisons of the various programming languages that work with .NET, information about ASP.NET and ADO.NET, and the .NET My Services environment. You'll also emerge from reading this book with a sense of how the various tools that interact with .NET work together, as well as an understanding of how the whole environment hangs together and interoperates (which explains the motivation for the title as clearly and succinctly as possible).

I taught on the Interop faculty with David Chappell from 1996 to 2001 and had the chance to see him interact directly with students. He was one of a very small number of instructors to win the "Best Instructor" award more than once, based entirely on student ratings.

His outstanding ability to explain complex technologies clearly and succinctly comes through even better in this book than it did in the classroom, thanks to painstaking editing and repeated polishing of this material. Those seeking their way into .NET, or who wish to help a manager understand the big picture effectively, could do a lot worse than by adding this book to their .NET collection.

Ed Tittel is a writer and trainer whose interests include XML and development topics, along with IT Certification and information security. E-mail etittel@techtarget.com with comments, questions, or suggested topics or tools to review. Cool tools rule!

This was first published in February 2007

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