ISBN: 978-1890774608 (ASP)
ISBN: 978-1890774622 (ADO)
List Price: $54.50
Murach is turning out the be one of the most reliable technical book publishers in business today! And if you're in business, that's a real plus.
Let me explain what I mean by that.
I just finished checking out the latest books in their lineup of programming books.
Murach's ASP.NET 4 Web Programming with VB 2010
Murach's ADO.NET 4 Database Programming with VB 2010
The books themselves are consistent examples of style and content that has distinguished Murach for years. More about that style and content is in this review later. But the way they produce these books is as unique as the books themselves and the "Murach book machine" can be a reassurance to someone looking for predictability and reliability in the technical book space.
The author Anne Boehm (assisted by Ged Mead for ADO.NET) has a dozen book credits at Murach (and none anywhere else). The first About Visual Basic review of one of her Murach books appeared six years ago. (Murach's ASP.NET 2.0 Upgraders Guide; VB Edition) At Murach, authors are not just freelance contractors; they're employees. Practice must indeed make perfect. She does a good job!
If you're in business, you're probably focused more on a reliable and stable plan for staying in business rather than the technology fad of the week. That's what Murach is focused on too.
For example ...
ASP.NET 4.0 and ADO.NET 4.0 aren't exactly the newest thing out. My own book on ASP.NET 4.0 (Pro ASP.NET 4 in VB 2010, Apress) was published last year. Murach's books don't tip the scale over in length either at just over half the size of mine. (ASP.NET is down almost 200 pages from the previous version.) And the Murach signature "paired page" format makes the use of those pages less compact.
But in spite of all this, Murach books remain the best and most productive choice for the practical person who doesn't know ADO.NET or ASP.NET and needs to learn it. Murach has an unblemished track record of putting out a uniformly high quality training tool for core Microsoft technologies, in my opinion, because they take their time and have solid internal quality control over their product. (In my own defense, I would point to the word "Pro" in my book title as the reason why it's twice as long and as dense as uranium.)
In a word, reliable. If you've ever used a Murach book before, you know exactly what you're getting and these two new ones won't be a surprise.
In fact, you can read my review of their ASP.NET version 3.5 book here and most of it applies completely to this one. The 4.0 version of their ADO.NET book has changed more. But my review of the ADO.NET version 3.5 book is still mostly on target as well. I was happy to see that Murach has incorporated all of the things I complained about in their online FAQ! Murach does indeed listen.
As a text for people who basically need to learn ASP.NET from a standing start, Murach does a great job. The difference between this book and more advanced books is that Murach takes a topic up to a certain point and then quits. For example, in chapter 19 where authentication is covered, Boehm writes, "If the ... providers that ship with ASP.NET aren't adequate for your application, you may need to write a custom ... provider." Aye! There's the rub! There's more to doing that than you might expect. Writing these custom providers is a chapter by itself in my book. On the other hand, you probably shouldn't even be trying to write a custom provider if you're just starting out, so Murach's book is what you need. On the other side of the coin, Murach has a chapter devoted to HTML. My book assumes that you already know it.
There are a few areas where the choice of technologies to include and exclude simply confused me. Fans of MVC (Model View Controller), now fully supported in Visual Studio and Visual Basic, will be disappointed to find that the book never even mentions it. And because I was expecting basic topics, it was something of a surprise to see a whole chapter on WCF services (Windows Communication Foundation) which is a topic advanced enough to only be covered as implemented in Silverlight in my book. Database technologies have some solid coverage, but most of it is really focused on just a few bound controls such as GridView.
All in all, I continue to highly recommend this as a text, especially for ASP.NET students.
Although the 4.0 edition of Murach's ADO.NET book is almost exactly the same size as the 3.5 version, it's changed quite a bit more than the ASP.NET book. The first three sections are just about the same, mainly covering the fundamental concept that you need to understand. But the relatively advanced Entity Framework and LINQ have been almost entirely eliminated. Both used to be a major sections. They're both down to a single chapter in this version. (I've always wondered just how much guidance they get from Microsoft in deciding what to emphasize and de-emphasize. Does this mean Microsoft is backing away from the Entity Framework too? Inquiring minds want to know!)
I think Murach is correct to refocus more on the fundamentals in this version. That's what they're good at and I doubt that too many people were actually looking for these more advanced topics in the old one.
But I do think they might have replaced these sections with something more focused on ADO and databases than they did. The new version now has a new major sections focused on the web using the same bound controls (again, GridView and cousins). At least in this one section, there's a lot of overlap with the ASP.NET book.