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Although Visual Studio's been available as a tool set from Microsoft for years now, it remains forever a work in progress as new components, tools, plug-ins and interfaces are added or updated. That's why any VS bookshelf needs room for more titles over time and why I can't produce a be-all and end-all list for more than a month or two. That said, I'd like to present some of the possible candidates on the topic that either reside on my bookshelf already (or will soon do so), with the idea that you might find them worthwhile occupants of your bookshelves as well.
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I admit to being a big fan of No Starch Press publications. If you've never read one of their books before, Robert B. Dunaway's The Book of Visual Studio .NET will probably help swing you over to my positive point of view on their titles. It concentrates on simple, straightforward coverage of .NET tools and how to use them best. Not just an excellent introduction and overview, but a useful tool in its own right.
Richard Grimes is a well-published writer on Microsoft development tools and platforms. His Developing Applications with Visual Studio .NET is a real jewel for your bookshelf. While it's aimed solidly at Win32/C++ developers, and covers Visual C# and Visual C++ .NET, it provides a great overview of the .NET Framework, foundation classes and other key concepts instrumental to understanding .NET's inner workings. Unfortunately, ADO.NET and ASP.NET are not covered, so the book is not a complete reference (it's well worth reading nevertheless). The …For Dummies All in One Desk References provide compilations of numerous titles on hot topics in an easily-accessible omnibus format. Nitin Pandey, Mridula Parihar, and Yesh Singhal offer the wide-ranging and surprisingly useful Visual Studio .NET All in One Desk Reference For Dummies (Wiley, 2002). It's by no means complete or totally comprehensive, but provides a good overview with lots of examples for beginners and neophytes on the topic.
Wrox Press is well-known for its "for developers, by developers" publications that concentrate on communicating what professionals need to know to be effective users of various tools, platforms and interfaces. David Richard Kalkstein DeLoveh heads up the usual cast of writers for Effective Visual Studio .NET. This book rightfully rates lots of rave reviews because of its detailed and thorough exposition of the .NET environment as programmers are likely to see it. Though dinged for lacking overview and orientation info, it's long on hands-on information and details. However, it's aimed at Microsoft's C# programming language so VB.NET programmers are less likely to find it germane.
Just arrived is Stephen Fulcher's Programming in Microsoft Visual Studio .NET (Core Reference) from Microsoft Press. This books aims to arm developers with all the information and examples they need to make effective and extensive use of the full battery of VS.NET tools and capabilities. Initial buzz on the book is very good, and its author is a senior Microsoft technology specialist and trainer who's been working with VS.NET since its initial inception (could be priceless; too early to tell). Microsoft Press is also working on Inside Microsoft Visual Studio .NET, by Brian Johnson, et al for release in February 2003. The Inside series titles are usually pretty worthwhile, so it may be useful to flip through some pages and see how you like this title when it hits the stores early next year. Initial buzz is good, but it's still too early to tell how good it really is. O'Reilly & Associates programming books also usually garner rave reviews, so it may be worth looking into Jon Flanders' and Chris Sells' forthcoming title Mastering Visual Studio .NET when it debuts in March, 2003.
With .NET Server shipping early in 2003, and a whole slew of MCAD/MCSD .NET focused exams recently introduced, a whole slew of books and supporting materials will be hitting bookstores in the next few months. Keep your eyes peeled there for new arrivals; I'll update this tip when I've had the opportunity to evaluate the new crop of contenders for the VS.NET bookshelf!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.