Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Book Review: Microsoft.Net Framework 3.5 Windows Communication Foundation Self Paced Training Kit

I have recently read the Microsoft.Net Framework 3.5 Windows Communication Foundation Self Paced Training Kit book and figured I would post a review of it for anyone debating purchasing this book.

Everyone has opinions about books and definitely technical books. I am going to try to stay away from opinions as much as possible, focus on the features of the book and what you can expect when reading it.

This book has LOTS of content, which isn't always a great thing but when you get a wide variety of content it adds a lot of value. When I say content, I am referring to all of the features that you will find in every chapter in the book. This includes:

  • Real World Sections - Real world scenarios are discussed that are relevant to the chapter that you are currently studying. The author will usually look back upon some of their scenarios and experiences to provide some insight into the topic that is currently being discussed.
  • Chapter Objectives - How this chapter is applicable to the exam.
  • Quick Checks - a mid chapter check-point to empathize a point or to test you on a recently discussed topic.
  • Labs - that include before and after solutions for you to work on. Step by step instructions are included.
  • Exam Tips
  • Lesson Summary - Chapters are broken down into Lessons to break the information into manageable chunks.
  • Lesson Review (Q and A) - At the end of the Lesson you are presented with some relevant questions regarding the section you just read. The answers are provided at the back of the book.
  • Chapter Review - At the end of the chapter, some further practice is recommended to enforce what you previously studied.
  • Chapter Summary
  • Key Terms
  • Case Scenarios - The Authors give you a hypothetical situation that is relevant to the chapter that you just read. You then think about the problem and how you would solve it. They provide you with their answers at the back of the book which allows you to compare your notes to theirs.
  • Suggested Practices - Additional information or resources that are applicable to the chapter just read. These resources include MSDN web casts which may be provided on the CD that comes with the book or a link to an online resource.
  • Practice Tests
  • Sample Code - This book provides sample code in both VB.Net and C# so no matter your (.Net) language of choice you will find suitable examples.

The book is very comprehensive with topics that include:

  • Contracts
  • Exposing Services
  • Deploying Services
  • Consuming Services
  • Configuration
  • Instrumentation
  • Infrastructure Security
  • User-Level Security
  • "When simple isn't sufficient"
  • Sessions and Instancing
  • Transactional Services
  • Concurrency

I really enjoyed the Instrumentation chapter, perhaps because I learned quite a bit from that chapter. It discusses how to trace your WCF services(basic and end to end), Extensibility and Monitoring your WCF services. While the ABC's (Address, Binding, Contracts) of WCF are the most talked about features of WCF, I thought the authors did a a good job of the "Operations" side of WCF.

Who this book is for

In my opinion, I think this book is ideal for someone who has some good experience with WCF that perhaps has not explored all of the features of WCF. This is definitely not the book you start with, but rather a book where you can re-affirm what you do know and get some exposure to what you may have missed or lack in experience.

Do I recommend the book

Yes, if you plan on using it for the purposes I have previously stated. The book is well-written, engaging and interesting. It is definitely not a book that you struggle to get through. As already mentioned there is so much content that whether you are looking for real world scenarios, exam tips, practice questions or labs you are bound to find value in this book.

Additional WCF Resources

Prior to reading this book I enjoyed the Windows Communication Foundation Unleashed book and recommend watching Michele Leroux Bustamante's web-cast series. She also has a book but I haven't read it so can't comment on it.

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