New Books for Windows Phone 7 & 7.5 and Microsoft SQL Server 2012 T-SQL – #bookreview

Microsoft Press recently has released two new books, one for developers who work with Windows Phone 7 & 7.5 and the other for newcomers to Microsoft SQL Server 2012 T-SQL. 

Windows Phone 7 Development Internals
Andrew Whitechapel
(Microsoft Press, paperback, Kindle)

Andrew Whitechapel’s hefty new 809-page development internals guidebook focuses on Windows Phone 7 design and architecture and helps you learn best practices for building Windows Phone 7 applications. It is illustrated with numerous screenshots, code examples, and other illustrations.

The book “covers the breadth of application development for the Windows Phone platform, both the major 7 and 7.1/7.5 versions and the minor 7.1.1 version,” Whitechapel writes.

Windows Phone 7 Development Internals is aimed at experienced .NET developers who are familiar with Microsoft Silverlight and want to dig into Windows Phone’s platform design and API surface.

“The Windows Phone 7 release only supports C#,” Whitechapel notes, “and although support for Visual Basic was introduced with the 7.1 SDK, this book focuses purely on C# and XAML.”

In each of the 20 chapters, several features are introduced, and Whitechapel provides “one or more sample [Silverlight] applications and walks you through the significant code (C# and XAML).”

The book’s author is a senior program manager for the Windows Phone Application Platform.

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Microsoft SQL Server 2012 T-SQL Fundamentals
Itzik Ben-Gan
(Microsoft Press, paperback, Kindle)

Transact-SQL, more commonly known as T-SQL, is the Microsoft SQL Server dialect of the ISO and ANSI standards for SQL. T-SQL code is used to query and modify data in SQL Server 2012.

Itzik Ben-Gan, one of the leading experts on T-SQL, emphasizes that his new book “covers fundamentals [and] is mainly aimed at T-SQL practitioners with little or no experience.” But others who have some T-SQL experience also can find it helpful for filling in gaps in knowledge. The book also is recommended for database administrators, business intelligence (BI) practitioners, report writer, analysts, architects, and SQL Server power users who have “just started working with SQL Server and need to write queries and develop code using Transact-SQL.”

Microsoft SQL Server 2012 T-SQL Fundamentals is structured into 10 chapters. The first chapter provides “Background to T-SQL Querying and Programming. Chapters 2 through 8 examine “various aspects of querying and modifying data.” Chapter 9 looks at concurrency and transactions, and Chapter 10 provides an overview of programmable objects.

The book’s one appendix shows you how to “get started and set up your environment so that you have everything you need to get the most out of this book.” The major discussions include: “Getting Started with SQL Database”; “Installing an On-Premises Implementation of SQL Server”; “Downloading Source Code and Installing the Sample Database”; “Working with SQL Server Management Studio”; and “Working with SQL Server Books Online.”

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Si Dunn

Maintainable JavaScript – Writing Code Others Can Read and Support – #programming #bookreview

Maintainable JavaScript
Nicholas C. Zakas
(O’Reilly, paperback, list price $34.99; Kindle edition, list price $27.99)

If you work with JavaScript – alone or in a development group – or if you are still learning JavaScript, you need this book.

Three reasons why:

  • If you have learned JavaScript on your own, hoping to land a job with a big company, you likely have developed your own style of coding.
  • If you are just starting to learn JavaScript, you don’t have a coding style yet. But you are fresh meat for creating your own in the near future.
  • If you have recently started working as part of a software development team, you likely have just made a rather painful discovery. Your carefully honed own coding style is not acceptable for the work you have just been assigned. Very quickly you must adapt to new coding conventions (or style guidelines) enforced by your manager.

Maintainable JavaScript focuses on the importance of following strict style guidelines and creating code that others in a development team can easily understand, maintain, adapt and extend.

The author, Nicholas C. Zakas, has written two previous JavaScript books. His latest is drawn from best practices he observed, followed, and developed at Yahoo! over five years while he was front-end tech lead for Yahoo!’s homepage, as well as a contributor to the YUI library.

“When a team is brought together for the first time, everyone brings with them their own ideas about how code should be written, “ Zakas notes. “After all, each team member comes from a different background.” And: “Everyone has an opinion about how code should be written, and it usually falls in line with how that individual would personally write it. Establishing style guidelines should always come as early in the process as possible.”

His well-written 219-page book is organized into three parts and 20 chapters.

In the Style Guidelines part, the chapters are:

  • Basic Formatting
  • Comments
  • Statements and Expressions
  • Variables, Functions, and Operators

The Programming Practices part has these chapters:

  • Loose Coupling of UI Layers
  • Avoid Globals
  • Event Handling
  • Avoid Null Comparisons
  • Separate Configuration Data from Code
  • Throw Your Own Errors
  • Don’t Modify Objects You Don’t Own
  • Browser Detection

And the Automation part has the following chapters:

  • File and Directory Structure
  • Ant
  • Validation
  • Concatenation and Baking
  • Minification and Compression
  • Documentation
  • Automated Testing
  • Putting It Together

The book’s two appendices are “JavaScript Style Guide” and “JavaScript Tools.”

Maintainable JavaScript smoothly and cleanly covers a lot of important ground. It takes you from the often-debated guidelines for indentation — “indentation is about as close to religion as software engineers get,” Zakas says — to enduring the “pain point” of browser testing, and creating build directories for development, integration, and release builds.

Si Dunn

Rails Recipes: Rails 3 Edition – Solutions to 70 Problems & More – #bookreview #in #rails #programming

Rails Recipes: Rails 3 Edition
Chad Fowler
Pragmatic Bookshelf, paperback, list price $35.00)

Chad Fowler’s Rails Recipes: Rails 3 Edition is aimed at developers who need to solve tough problems while using Rails. But Rails beginners also can learn plenty from the 70 “recipes” in this excellent guide.

The 280-page book is divided into seven parts. Busy Rails developers can jump directly to any part that deals with their latest vexation. Those new to Rails also can read the book in any “recipe” order, or they can take it straight through like a textbook.

The seven parts are:

  1. Database Recipes
  2. Controller Recipes
  3. User Interface Recipes
  4. Testing Recipes
  5. Email Recipes
  6. Big-Picture Recipes
  7. Extending Rails

The author uses a simple problem-solution approach. For example, in Recipe 28, the problem is: “You notice a recurring pattern in your application. You’re writing code for the same actions over and over again in your controllers.” The solution Fowler presents involves learning how to use the Rails versions of macros to create “code that writes codes for you….” by taking “advantage of Ruby’s metaprogramming capabilities.”

He then shows how, noting that “Ruby, like Lisp and Smalltalk before it, allows programmers to easily write code that writes and loads code at runtime.” He adds: “This is a really deep topic, and we’re not going to attempt to dig too deep into it here. Instead, we’ll focus on the details necessary to implement our own Action Controller macros.”

Each recipe spans only a few pages but is presented clearly and is well illustrated with code examples.

Anyone working with Rails or still adding it to their programming capabilities should consider getting Rails Recipes: Rails 3 Edition and keeping it within easy reach.

Si Dunn

Android Cookbook: Problems & Solutions for Android Developers – #bookreview #in #programming

Android Cookbook
Edited by Ian F. Darwin
(O’Reilly, paperback, list price $54.99; Kindle edition, list price$43.99)

Several dozen Android developers have contributed some 200 tested “recipes” to this hefty how-to guide for building Android apps.

But be sure you know Java reasonably well before tackling Android Cookbook. As the book’s editor, Ian F. Darwin, notes, “Android apps are written in the Java language before they are converted into Android’s own class file format, DEX. If you don’t know how to program in Java you will find it hard to write Android apps.”

The 661-page book starts at the traditional “Hello, World” level so you can test two different approaches. At the command line, it shows how to “create a new Android project without using the Eclipse ADT plug-in.” And then it shows how to create an Android application using Eclipse.

From there, a clear and simple problem-solution approach is taken, and the solutions are illustrated with code examples.

The 22 chapters cover a wide range:

  1. Getting Started
  2. Designing a Successful Application
  3. Testing
  4. Inter-/Intra-Process Communications
  5. Content Providers
  6. Graphics
  7. Graphical User Interface
  8. GUI Alerts: Menus, Dialogs, Toasts, and Notifications
  9. GUI: ListView
  10. Multimedia
  11. Data Persistence
  12. Telephone Applications
  13. Networked Applications
  14. Gaming and Animation
  15. Social Networking
  16. Location and Map Applications
  17. Accelerometer
  18. Bluetooth
  19. System and Device Control
  20. Other Programming Languages and Frameworks
  21. Strings and Internationalization
  22. Packaging, Deploying, and Distributing/Selling Your App

In Ian Darwin’s view, “Android is ‘the open source revolution’ applied to cellular telephony and mobile computing. At least part of the revolution.”

There have been worries in the past about Android’s future. But Darwin and the book’s contributors are among the many who remain firmly convinced that “Android is definitely here to stay!” Darwin adds: “This book is here to help the Android developer community share the knowledge that will make it happen.”

Si Dunn

The CSS3 Anthology: Take Your Sites to New Heights – #bookreview #in #webdesign

The CSS3 Anthology: Take Your Sites to New Heights, 4th Edition
Rachel Andrew
(SitePoint,
paperback, list price $39.95; Kindle edition, list price $29.95)

“The basic purpose of CSS [Cascading Style Sheets],” Rachel Andrew notes, “is to allow the [web] designer to define style declarations — formatting details such as fonts, element sizes, and colors — and then apply those styles to selected portions of HTML pages using selectors: references to an element or group of elements to which the style is applied.”

The fourth edition of this popular how-to book for Cascading Style Sheets is aimed at providing how-to examples, shortcuts and tips for busy web designers and web developers already working with CSS.

However, web-savvy beginners and those who build and maintain their own websites also can benefit from this well-written book. Along with a short introduction to CSS basics, it offers many short code examples and related screenshots. And virtually every chapter is structured around answering the question “How do I…?” as each new topic is introduced.

Indeed, the 420-page book is a compilation of answers to questions, specific how-tos and examples readily adaptable to real-world web pages.

The CSS3 Anthology is organized into nine chapters:

  • Making a Quick Start with CSS
  • Text Styling and Other Basics
  • Images and Other Design Elements
  • Navigation
  • Tabular Data
  • Forms and User Interfaces
  • Cross-browser Techniques
  • CSS Positioning Basics
  • CSS for Layout

If you need a tutorial or refresher in HTML and CSS basics before grabbing this book, the author recommends Build Your Own Website the Right Way Using HTML & CSS, 3rd Edition, available in paperback and ebook formats.

— Si Dunn

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Inside Windows Debugging: Practical Debugging and Tracing Strategies – #bookreview #in #programming

Inside Windows Debugging: Practical Debugging and Tracing Strategies
Tarik Soulami
(Microsoft Press,
paperback, list price $39.99; Kindle edition, list price $31.99)

Debugging and tracing tools — and the willingness and strategies to use them — should be key aspects of any software development and testing process.

Inside Windows Debugging is intended for software engineers who want to “perfect their mastery of Windows as a development platform through the use of debugging and tracing tools.”

Yet anyone serious about learning, using and supporting Windows can benefit from this book. Its first few chapters provide basic explanations of debugging and tracing tools and how to acquire the right packages and use them. From there, the author presents and explains numerous code examples that demonstrate many types of bugs and related problems in software. So it is helpful to have at least a little experience with C/C++ and C# programming languages.

Inside Windows Debugging has 560 pages, including an extensive index, and is divided into three parts: (1) “A Bit of Background”; (2) “Debugging for Fun and Profit”; and (3) “Observing and Analyzing Software Behavior.” Two appendices sum up common debugging tasks and show how to accomplish them using the WinDbg debugger.

To run the software and examples used in this book, you should have “Windows Vista or later.”

The author, however, “highly” recommends at least having Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2. And in some of the kernel debugging exercises, a second computer will be needed to serve as a host kernel-mode debugger machine.

Si Dunn

For developers and system administrators: Windows Internals, Part 1, 6th Edition – #bookreview

Windows Internals, Part 1 – 6th Edition
Mark Russinovich, David A. Solomon, Alex Ionescu
(Microsoft Press, paperback, list price $39.99; Kindle edition, list price $31.99)

This latest Windows Internals guide is being released in two parts that are “fully updated for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.”

“Updating the book for each release of Windows takes considerable time so producing it in two parts allows us to publish the first part earlier,” according to Microsoft Press and the authors.

Part 1 is now available. Meanwhile, Part 2 is scheduled to be released sometime this fall.

Part 1 has 726 pages and is divided into seven chapters:

  • Concepts and Tools
  • System Architecture
  • System Mechanisms
  • Management Mechanisms
  • Processes, Threads, and Jobs
  • Security
  • Networking

Part 2, once it becomes available, will offer these seven additional chapters:

  • I/O System
  • Storage Management
  • Memory Management
  • Cache Management
  • File Systems
  • Startup and Shutdown
  • Crash Dump Analysis

Both parts of Windows Internals, Sixth Edition, are aimed at advanced computer professionals (developers and system administrators) “who want to understand how the core components of the Microsoft Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 RS operating systems work internally.”

Such knowledge can help developers “better comprehend the rationale behind design choices when building applications specific to the Windows platform,” the authors note. For system administrators, having a deeper understanding of how the operating system works “facilitates understanding the performance behavior of the system and makes troubleshooting system problems much easier when things go wrong.”

The book is heavily illustrated with screenshots, tables, diagrams and other illustrations.

And it features a number of hands-on experiments to help you dig deeper into how Windows works inside, using tools such as “the kernel debugger and tools from Sysinternals and Winsider Seminars & Solutions.”

What Part 1 and the forthcoming Part 2 will not do, the authors point out, is “describe how to use, program, or configure Windows.”

— Si Dunn