Mike Murach has been publishing tutorials for IT professionals since the mid-1980s. Many mainframe developers learned their COBOL, DB2, VSAM and CICS skills from Mike Murach publications. These books owe their great following to Murach's model of devoting a single book to specific topic and focusing on making it the best introductory book possible on that topic, rather than publishing a confusing array of books on the same topic with much overlap among books. Murach has continued this model with books that cover topics for today's developers: SQLServer 2000, Java 2, Java Servlets & JSP and Visual Basic.NET.
Murach's Beginning Visual Basic.NET is an excellent choice for teaching oneself VB.NET. If you complete all 18 chapters and do the exercises, then you will have mastered enough to go out and get a job as a beginning VB.NET developer. The topics are ordered in a sequence that is very conducive to learning. The book uses Murach's successful "paired page" format with each subtopic presented in 2-page chunks; text on the left hand page with examples and summaries on the right hand page.
One of the strengths of this book is the fact that there are plenty of exercises and projects to do. In order to keep the price of the book down, rather than put all the projects and sample code onto a CD, the sample code as well as 80% of the projects are made available on their website requiring a 2 minute download (20 seconds if you have DSL or cable internet access). Just reading a book or copying sample code from a book is not going to help you remember what you learned. This book gives you projects to do as well as many exercises. This makes you learn the topics covered.
By the end of Chapter 6 you will have covered all of the basics of VB.NET syntax, using the VS.NET IDE and the basics of coding OO applications (advanced OO topics are covered in a later chapter). Since OO is such a cornerstone of .NET development, the fact that it is introduced so early in the book is a plus! By the end of the 18 chapters you will have developed multiple non-trivial VB.NET projects. These are not trivial coding exercises but serious business applications. Each chapter has several hands-on projects. Additional projects are available for download from the publisher's website.
The focus of this book is on coding. Other than covering .NET classes, the book does not cover the details of .NET Framework development such as deployment, assemblies, interoperability with legacy COM components, conversion from VB6, threading, .NET architecture (CLR, CTS, and MSIL) and managed code. Once the reader has used this book to master the basics of designing, coding and debugging VB.NET programs, then he or she can move on to the clinical details of what goes on under the hood as well as thinking about the issues of enterprise development and application deployment. There are plenty of books that cover those topics. You have to learn to walk before you run. This book will have you walking in no time at all.
Developers who put in the effort to master the topics in this book can move onto the next book from Murach, VB.NET Programming with ADO.NET (co-authored by Anne Prince along with veteran Mike Murach & Associates author, Doug Lowe).
The 18 chapters are broken down into five sections:
1. The "essence" of VB.NET, including language essentials, data validation, exception handling, using the IDE, OO development (1 of 2 chapters on this topic) and debugging.
2. Windows forms, controls and multi-document interfaces.
3. NET classes, XML, advanced OO development, arrays and collections.
4. Database Access and ADO.
5. Web programming, ASP.NET and web services.
If you cannot get to a class or you just want a very well organized hands-on tutorial that is comprehensive, yet completely understandable, then this is the book for you.