Understanding .NET

By Robbe D. Morris

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Robbe Morris
Robbe & Melisa Morris
David Chappell has written a nice overview of Microsoft's .NET technology.  Inside, you'll find high level overviews of the .NET framework, web services, data access, and comparisons betwen Java and .NET.  This book was designed for both developers and IT managers and holds true to its goal of simplifying a rather complex subject.
From the start, I was a bit torn between liking and disliking Understanding .NET.  For starters, David is an entertaining and interesting author.  His commentary flows well and is relatively easy to understand.  The key points of the .NET framework and how it really works were well written.  However, I'm just not sure the book suits either developers or IT managers very well.
Being a developer, I found the lack of depth on key concepts such as StateServer really disappointing.  He had done a great job of piqueing my interest with the various options for managing state on web farms and then just left me asking "StateServer sounds great.  How do you actually implement it?".  The content was just way too vague.  Unfortunately, occurances like this are common.  There are far better books that provide indepth explainations of .NET to go along with complete code samples showing how to implement this new paradigm.

It might be me but I just don't see IT managers being able to digest much of the content in the book either.  From my experience, they only a have a basic understanding of how software works in a distributed environment.  Grasping the details of SOAP and web services is a little out of their reach and would leave them wondering why they should take on this new (and because it is a new Microsoft product-dangerous) release and risk more IT headaches.
All of this being said, Understanding .NET is going to help me.  I need to help my immediate project leads and supervisors understand why .NET is important.  These folks have just enough development experience to understand these concepts without the desire to learn how to implement them at a coding level.  This is where David's authoring and presentation style comes in handy.  I found numerous paragraphs and charts that have just enough umph in them to capture their imagination.  If I can relate what David has provided to upcoming key initiatives, then I'll starting hearing management scream about not having implemented .NET soon enough.  Now, that would be a nice problem to have...
If you are in the same boat as I with your project leads and supervisors, then spend a few extra bucks and pick up Understanding .NET.  It could go a long way to getting you into a production .NET environment sooner rather than later.  Otherwise, I'd probably look for a book that is geared more towards the development side of the isle.

Robbe has been a Microsoft MVP in C# since 2004.  He is also the co-founder of NullSkull.com which provides .NET articles, book reviews, software reviews, and software download and purchase advice.