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Make the most of MSDN's .NET articles

Where to go to get to the heart of the matter.

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The Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) Web site is both a treasure trove and a hiding place for more information about more developer tools, topics, tips and techniques than any single human can ever hope to absorb or digest. For those .NET developers in search of cogent, useful, how-to information on working with .NET tools and technologies, let me therefore recommend a potential shortcut to finding where the good stuff resides in the MSDN storehouse of knowledge.

Visit the MSDN how-to articles Web page. There, you'll final pre-formatted queries for top developer subjects of interest that include ASP.NET and XML (both of which have strong relationships to Visual Studio .NET as well). You'll also find search menus on developer products and technologies that include:

  • .NET Framework SDK
  • ActiveX Data Objects and ADO.NET
  • SDK information out the wazoo
  • JScript .NET
  • Visual Basic .NET
  • Visual C# .NET
  • Visual C++ .NET
  • A list of so-called "Essential how-tos" that reflect the most-frequently requested how-to articles (at the last viewing all of these articles touch on XML and various aspects of the .NET Framework or Visual Studio .NET)

A good example of this genre is the article entitled "How-to: Write XML to a file in Visual Studio .NET (2002) Professional Edition". It explains how to invoke and use the XmlTextWriter class that can be used to stream XML output to create XML documents (this offers better performance than using the XML Document Object Model, or DOM). The article provides step-by-step instructions and examples of how to use Visual Studio .NET with either VB.NET or C# .NET to reference the correct name space, construct an instance of XmlTextWriter, apply formatting controls and manage the writing process to create a complete XML file using the various methods associated with this class.

Simple, straightforward information, with working code examples. That's what you'll find in the how-to articles, and why they're well worth an occasional visit to see what's new.

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

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