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I still have a number of copies of my latest book Beginning ASP.NET 4 in C# and VB waiting on my desk for someone to read them. Want to win a copy?
Ever since it was announced, Professional Application Lifecycle Management with Visual Studio 2010 was high on my list of books to read. I've been using Visual Studio, and team Foundation Server since the first releases of the products, but really needed to dig a little deeper in some of the core concepts. Because the Visual Studio 2010 release is quite large with lots of new features, especially in terms of ALM and TFS, I was on the lookout for a book that showed me what's new, and how to use it. It turned out that this book, by Mickey Gousset and others, is an excellent guide to many of the new features in Visual Studio 2010 and Team Foundation Server 2010.
Don't you just hate it? You read an interesting programming related article on the web that comes with source code. You downloaded the source so you can look at it later. When you open the file later, you've long forgotten where you got the file, or which concept it was supposed to demonstrate. Worse, the download contains a gazillion files, making it pretty impossible to find the stuff you're looking for yourself. Rather than two or three files demonstrating the topics originally discussed in the article you read, you're faced with a gazillion ReSharper cache files, useless .suo and .user files, obj folder and more. Take, for example, this article "Using Dynamic Views In ASP.NET MVC 2" (note: I am not picking on the author here personally; it's just an example I ran into recently that shows most of the problems I face with code downloads; it's easy to come up with many other examples). The relevant code is only 18 lines long (7 in the View and another 11 in a controller class), yet when you unpack the zip file you get 79 files. Granted, some are needed to run the example as an MVC site, but with a bit of clean up, the number of files can easily be reduced to 27 plus 1 by following these simple tips.
Ever since Microsoft released ASP.NET in 2002, web developers have been able to use a powerful platform to build a wide range of web applications and services. But this power comes at a price. Getting started with ASP.NET takes quite some time and effort. Before you can run your first Hello World page, you need to download and install a lot of software, taking up quite a bit of time and bandwidth. You need Visual Web Developer (Express), you need SQL Server (Express or any other version) and you may need IIS if you want to test out more realistic scenarios, some of which require special privileges for the account you use on your machine. Once you have all the tools, the real work begins. My latest book, Beginning ASP.NET 4 in C# and VB needed 803 pages to take you from a developer newbie to a competent ASP.NET web developer.
In other words, you're facing quite some hurdles when you want to start developing web applications on the Microsoft platform, especially if you're a hobbyist web developer.
To make the Microsoft stack more appealing to beginning web developers, Microsoft is introducing WebMatrix.
Over the past couple of weeks I've been reviewing a number of Sketch and Mockup Tools. You can find the complete series here:
For now I won't be reviewing any other tools as I haven't worked with them (extensively) enough to say something useful about them. Thanks to everyone who contributed suggestions for additional tools to review.
To close off the series, I'll briefly recap the five tools and give my opinion of the one(s) I liked best.