This is a “programmer To programmer” level book and therefore isn’t a book for complete novices. That being said, the author doesn’t skimp on explanation and reinforces many key points as part of the narrative.
Pros and Cons
It is clearly written. The Graphics section is extremely good. In fact it is the best coverage of the topic of Graphics for VB.NET that I have yet seen.
One thing I really did appreciate about this book was that in many places the author has inserted his own comments and insight into the Purpose or Description cell in tables which give details of Classes, techniques, methods, etc. That is, those tables didn’t only consist of material that was copy/pasted from the documentation; a criticism I could level at other books.
I would have liked new features in VB 2005 to have been highlighted as “New in 2005” ; possibly giving those new features disproportionately additional coverage. However, VB6 developers upgrading to VB2005 who may be the key target readership of this book, possibly wouldn’t see any extra value from that.
On occasion I had the feeling that the knowledge level assumed varied from topic to topic, but with the massive depth of subjects in VB.NET nowadays it is virtually impossible to overcome this problem.
A plus point with this - and other - Wrox books is that you can get help and answers from the Wrox Programmer to Programmer (P2P) Forums. The specific link for this book is http://p2p.wrox.com/forum.asp?FORUM_ID=216
As you will see if you follow that link, the author is more than willing to pitch in and help resolve a follow up question from a reader, even going to the extent of providing a revised code sample for the particular problem.
Even a book of this size (more than 1000 pages) cannot be all things to all people. And in fairness it doesn’t pretend to be. It is – as the title says – a reference book. Although, to my surprise, I did sit and read it almost from cover to cover, I can see that its real value is as a reference manual that you can dip back into time after time to learn or clarify topics as needed.
Overall this is a good Programmer to Programmer level book which has plenty of code samples, clear narrative and comprehensive coverage of important topics. Apart from anything else, personally I think this book is worth the asking price just for the information contained in the Graphics Part alone.