Jesse Liberty ...
Is that just a writer's pen name? Somehow it seems too perfect. In fact, Jesse Liberty is very much a real person and he is as unique and interesting as an individual as his books and his name are. As one example, Jesse tells me that "Liberty" is actually his wife's surname, not his, and he changed his name to match hers. Cool move!
... writes highly individualistic books. As a best-selling technology author, university lecturer, corporate executive, consulting company entreprenuer, goal-driven idealist, and basically self-taught citizen of the world, you get a full measure with any of his books and this lastest one is no exception. The first line on the first page announces it, "This is not your typical Visual Basic book."
Jesse's strong point is that his clear and down-to-earth writing style makes even difficult topics seem easy. This was something that impressed me a lot in an earlier book that was reviewed here: Learning Visual Basic .NET.
Jesse Liberty On-Line!
Jesse's online presence is pretty big. You can check out Jesse's bio on Wikipedia, his business web site (where you can find a discussion group and support for his books, including this one), his political web site, and his personal weblog page. And he assures me that "I provide a free private support discussion group (through Delphi forums) in which readers can ask questions and have them answered either by other readers or by me. I respond to every email about my books (I get about 100/week) and I try to make sure that my readers are not abandoned to the printed page in isolation."
That's a powerful commitment, Jesse. That is a real "value add" for a book like this!
Two Books In One
Jesse points out, and it's true, that this is really two books in one - a book about VB.NET 2005 Windows programming and one about ASP.NET 2.0 programming. This also points out one of the real problems with learning software technology and with writing books about it. The absolutely huge size of today's Visual Basic and Visual Studio make it absolutely impossible to try to comprehensively cover everything. So it takes real talent for an author to guide you through the zillions of options and features and focus in on a valuable subset that you can really learn with. Jesse does it in fine style, however. He says it best himself, "The goal of this book is to make you immediately productive."
... things that could have been improved
I found a number of small but irritating errors as I went through the book. I didn't find anything of major importance, but the editing might have been more thorough. In addition, Jesse's individualistic approach to things can sometimes get in the way. At one point, he discusses, "copy constructors" - a language feature of C++ - and tells you that, "Visual Basic 2005 does not provide a copy constructor." So why was it was in the book? He writes something similar about the Finalize method and garbage collection - another critical topic in C++ that is handled automatically in VB.NET. After noting that the code he presents only applies to unmanaged resources (but not mentioning that .NET very rarely will use unmanaged resources) and noting that "it is not legal to call Finalize explicity" he provides a somewhat advanced technique for doing it anyway. Again, I wondered if that was the most important topic to include.
These topics were in a chapter about Object Oriented Programming that Jesse says he added only because his editor insisted on it. But he says it is "boring" and invites you to ignore it.