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In the wake of my last tip on Microsoft's .NET "how-to" articles, I've had over a dozen e-mails asking for information about sources of training on the whole .NET phenomenon, from overview to framework to various related .NET-enabled programming languages. This has stimulated me to look around and to see what kinds of training and resources are available for those who may be interested in evaluating Microsoft's latest development architecture and environments to those who may be gearing up to start development within the .NET Framework.
As is so often the case with things Microsoft-related, there's a plethora of options from which to choose. That's why I present only top-level information and pointers, with some general words of wisdom when it comes to investing training dollars wisely:
- You get what you pay for: CD-based training may be re-usable and significantly cheaper than classroom training, but staffers won't get the same opportunities for instructor interaction and coaching from a CD that they can from a real-live instructor.
- Deciding between Microsoft official training and that from third parties can be tricky. It's best to rely on referrals and recommendations from people whom you know and trust, and whose knowledge, skills and needs are close enough to your own for their input to matter.
- Even with the best of training, developers need time to learn and digest new tools and environments before they can operate at maximum productivity. Give them (or yourself) some time to come up to speed before expecting to realize the fullest benefits of such training.
That said, here are some of the more interesting and highly regarded .NET training offerings my research and conversations with industry professionals turned up:
- Microsoft has a plethora of offerings on Visual Studio .NET, but some show up under the more general heading of "XML Web Services Foundation skills" as well as under the more apparently apt heading of "Microsoft .NET Framework & System Services." For more information, and a list of courses, see www.microsoft.com/traincert/training/developer/dotnet.asp. There are three foundations courses, two of which deal directly with .NET topics, and eight of nine courses in the .NET Framework container are currently available. Be sure to check out Visual Studio .NET and .NET Languages courses as well, of which eight are also currently available. While somewhat costly ($250-400 per seat per day is the normal range for such classes), strong Microsoft training centers or Microsoft-staffed training generally get good reviews from attendees.
- The folks at Wintellect have an excellent reputation for training and consulting; their .NET courses are no exception to this observation. They don't offer as many courses as Microsoft, but their courses tend to be more in-depth, more hands-on and offer more instructor support and mentoring as part of their overall package. Companies or organizations seeking to train groups of employees should also investigate Wintellect's on-site and custom training offerings. For more information about .NET courses, visit www.wintellect.com/seminars/training.aspx?courses=1.
- The Developmentor team also has a good reputation for training, with numerous locations in the U.S. (and several in the U.K. as well). The so-called "guerilla events" offer five days and nights with top-notch instructional staff, and they offer nearly a dozen different .NET-related courses. Like Wintellect, Developmentor also offers customized on-site training. Visit the site for online tutorials and white papers as well as public course information.
- Ken Getz, a well known expert on Microsoft development tools offers CD-ROM based training on Visual Studio .NET through various outlets, including www.netwind.com/html/visual_studio__net.html and www.e-trainonline.com/html/visual_studio__net.html. For less than the cost of an average class, you can get anywhere from nine to 30 hours in one of a variety of training suites on Visual Studio .NET, ASP.NET and the various languages.
To get a full sense of the wide variety of offerings available, visit your favorite search engine and use "Visual Studio .NET training" to search for more. You'll typically find around 100 or so such items in a good engine. But be sure to do some more homework to pick the resource that's right for your budget, your staff and your learning needs before plunking down your hard-earned cash.
Ed Tittel presides over LANWrights, Inc., a company that specializes in Web markup languages and development tools, with a decidedly Microsoft flavor. He is also a co-author of more than 100 books on a variety of computing topics, and a regular contributor to numerous TechTarget web sites. Contact Ed via e-mail at email@example.com.