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 »  Home  »  Reviews  »  Book Reviews  »  VB.NET Database Programming with ADO.NET
VB.NET Database Programming with ADO.NET
by Andrew Sutton | Published  08/29/2003 | Book Reviews | Rating:
Andrew Sutton

vbCity Leader Andrew Sutton (aka Shandy) has over 12 years experience in IT specialising in VB/ASP/Database applications using both Oracle and SQL Server.

Andrew is DevCity Developer Community Moderator, Helper of the Month competition winner and regular contributor to DevCity.NET newsletter.

 

View all articles by Andrew Sutton...
VB.NET Database Programming with ADO.NET

The book is written by Anne Prince and Doug Lowe, has 17 chapters, 585 pages, 279 illustrations and it's ISBN is 1-890774-19-7, get it on Amazon - VB.NET Database Programming with ADO.NET. There are 2 chapters available in PDF format for free viewing.

When I was asked to do this review I was quite intrigued as, despite owning a considerable number of computer books, this was my first exposure to the Murach publishing house.

One thing that immediately hit me as I read the book is that the format is not like any other I have seen. Basically every left hand page is a narrative and every right hand page contains diagrams and bullet points pertaining to the narrative. The first implication this has is that in a way the book appears twice as large as it actually is. A lot of information from the left hand side is repeated on the right hand side. Also there is a liberal sprinkling of white space. At first I thought this was unnecessary. However once I got into the book I found that this format generally worked for me. I discovered that after reading each left hand page I could then take stock by reading the bullet points on the right hand page. This was particularly useful once the first few chapters were left behind and the more involved issues started to get explained. So a thumbs up for this format and I think we may well see other publishers take it up in future.

I'd advise you to read Appendix A first and make sure you have the Web Server & MSDE installed ready on your PC for use as you make your way through the book. The book's example applications are written for the MSDE database (although they should work equally as well for SQL Server). The whole book is heavily biased towards MSDE/SQL Server. (Nearly all the example code uses the System.Data.SQLClient namespace) The applications and sample database used in the book are also available for download at http://www.murach.com/books/adon/download.htm

Section 1

As a long-term database programmer I found that I could speed-read through Chapter 1. For readers not very familiar to database programming this chapter is a must read as it covers a lot of concepts which are important later on. Chapter 2 was an excellent overview of ADO.NET. Chapter 3 was where the book really got going. The initial setting up of data adapters, connections and datasets I found a little heavy going but the example of binding data to a datagrid was excellent. By the end of this section you will have a small database application up and running using a datagrid to display your data.

Section 2

Chapter 4 shows you how to set up a simple databound application using a form with databound controls on that allow the example Vendors database to be maintained. It also contained useful information about handling ADO.NET errors. Chapter 5 moves on to using unbound controls and shows how an unbound application can be more flexible. Chapter 6 covers untyped datasets, which are more closely related to how the old ADO works. Finally in Chapter 7 you learn how use data views to filter and sort data in datasets, how to use parameterized queries to restrict the data retrieved from the database and also how to work with multiple tables in a dataset.

Section 3

In chapter 8 you get to learn about working with data commands, i.e. queries that return datasets using data readers, queries that don't return a dataset (either scalar or non-queries), stored procedures (including using the configuration wizard), and transactions. Chapter 9 moves onto working with dataset schemas and covers using the XML designer to create tables and columns, constraints and relations for typed datasets; also using the collection editors to perform similar tasks for untyped datasets; and finally how to perform these tasks through code. Chapter 10 shows you how to develop and use database classes. This chapter briefly covers some of the theory of 3 tiered applications. Chapter 11 then puts all you have learnt so far into practice by running through the creation of a complete order entry application.

Section 4

Chapter 12 is basically an introduction to ASP.NET programming showing how to use the Web Form Designer and how to bind web server controls to data sources. Chapter 13 highlights some of the ASP.NET programming techniques such as connection pooling and caching and maintaining session state. Chapter 14 shows how to use the Datalist and Datagrid controls.

Section 5

Chapter 15 deals with working with XML files. No prior knowledge of XML is assumed and it provides a good basic introduction to the subject. Chapter 16 shows you how to use Crystal Reports to develop reports. Chapter 17 explains how to use the Server Explorer for performing common database tasks like creating databases, defining fields, relationships, keys and indexes and constraints.

Pros

I found the information in the book to be very accurate. The few errors were posted very quickly on the web site http://www.murach.com/books/adon/errata.htm.

I also liked having space in the margins to pencil in remarks and notes.

The print was clear and there were plenty of diagrams and figures to supplement the text.

Cons

If I had to be critical I would say the book was a little dry as I like to get to know a bit about the author when I read a technical book like this. The odd joke or amusing story helps to break the study once in a while and this was lacking.

Also I couldn't initially use the example database as it was created using a collation different to my UK set-up. This will need to be corrected if the book is to be sold outside the US. I eventually managed to get around this problem by using a Microsoft support article at http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;325681

Conclusion

The book assumes some VB.Net familiarity. I'd suggest that anyone reading this book reads a basic VB.Net book first. However, as far as ADO.Net goes no prior knowledge is required.

This is not so much a reference book as a tutorial book that guides you through the various aspects of ADO.Net. I found it difficult to dive into a particular chapter without reading the previous chapters. This in itself is certainly no bad thing but it is something you need to be aware of.

My overall opinion is that this book is an excellent tool to learn ADO.NET for VB.NET. I'd have no problem recommending it to anyone new to ADO.NET but with some VB.NET experience. This book is definitely aimed at the ADO.NET novice and you will end up with a basic grounding in a good coverage of ADO.NET subjects.

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