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3 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wrong Approach for Me, 5 April 2014
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This review is from: Pro ASP.Net MVC 5 (Expert's Voice in ASP.Net) (Paperback)
No longer a full-time developer as I run a business providing a wide variety of IT support services. I just received a commission for a web-based application from a managed services customer and I relished the opportunity to do some programming.

Things have changed a great deal since I last wrote a MS based web-based app (in dot net 2.0), but having recently written an iOS app which required learning the MVC concept, I didn't think the learning curve to master ASP.NET MVC 5 would be too steep, and I'd be able to get up and running quickly. That has not been the case using this book as my teacher.

Too much of the non-essentials such as unit testing, mocking and dependency injection could have been shoved nearer the back of the book. I wasted an entire afternoon waiting for the nuget.org servers to provide me with the three ninject installations required to learn this book's version of dependency injection. If the author used the visual studio built in DI tool, this would have been unnecessary. Although the author said the ninject chapter was optional, since it was written into the Sports Store application example which takes up a good chunk of the remainder of the book, this is evidently NOT so!

The first useful chapter for me was Chapter 7 which delved into using databases. Its approach was to use the local database, but when I followed the coding instructions, the app crashed because it was trying to find the model db rather than the sportsStore db. This turned out to be because I already had a previous version of SQL Server Express installed on my dev box, which the Entity Framework defaults to using if it finds it present. It took an entire afternoon of frustrating trial and error before this bug was fixed by tweaking connection strings etc. I am not sure if I can blame the author for this or the way the Entity Framework is constructed. But surely a more universal approach must be possible?

It is not uncommon for code examples in these kinds of books to fail since configurations are so varied depending on which tools are being used. What I have found useful with other books is accompanying blogs which enable students which encounter the same problems to obtain fixes from each other. Such a blog would have been extremely useful for this book, but I have been unable to find one at the publisher's website.

I suspect that the most trouble free way of using this book is probably to wipe your development machine, reinstall Windows, then install the latest version of Visual Studio Express. Any other configuration is likely to cause problems, which of course may be educational in themselves!

I am still only in Chapter 7! I will probably amend this assessment as I go along, but so far I have to conclude that I may have learnt MVC 5 quicker if I had tried another book.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 10 Apr 2014 16:23:29 BDT
D. Blackmore says:
Regarding the line "I wasted an entire afternoon waiting for the nuget.org servers" - you should be reviewing the book, not your internet connection. If you are familiar with the built in DI tool there would have been nothing to stop you using that instead.

Regarding "it was trying to find the model db rather than the sportsStore db. This turned out to be because I already had a previous version of SQL Server Express installed on my dev box, which the Entity Framework defaults to using if it finds it present." - a quick look at your connection strings would have verified where the database had put itself. shouldn't take an afternoon.

Regarding "Too much of the non-essentials such as unit testing, mocking and dependency injection" - only DI is required to complete the samples, the author has made a point of keeping the unit testing sections separate and even mentioning that you should only complete them if you find some value in doing so. and you could even skip the DI with some simple code modifications.

Regarding "Such a blog would have been extremely useful for this book, but I have been unable to find one at the publisher's website." - errata located at http://www.apress.com/9781430265290.

Your only measure of time seems to be "an entire afternoon".

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Apr 2014 17:53:36 BDT
Adso says:
Dear D.Blackmore,

I believe that you are implying that my difficulty with this book is my fault rather than the author's. I intend to refute this by laying out my experience as a developer before addressing your points in turn:

I have 24 years of experience as a developer, 14 of which was full time. I have written software for multiple platforms including IBM mainframe and mid-range, Microsoft client-server and web-based app dev with classic ASP and dot net up to 2.0 with both VB.NET and c#. Last year I successfully taught myself iOS development and wrote an app which I published in the Apple app store. I started as an employee, then became a consultant, then an independent contractor. I was always an invaluable member of any development team I was part of and was involved in pioneering work on more than one project.

I have read a lot of reference and educational books on programming languages. I certainly have sufficient experience as a consumer of such books to provide the criticisms of this book that I have. I have to say that most of the technical books I have read have been much, much better than this one.

And now to answer your points:

Point One: My internet connection was fine. The nuget servers were having a problem as reported by multiple other users on their forum. I am not familiar with the built in DI tool since it was not available in the last version of Visual Studio that I worked with (VS 2005), which is why I would have preferred education on that rather than Ninject, which requires downloading.

Point Two: There is no point telling me it shouldn't take an afternoon. It did. My description of the problem was a simplification. it turns out that the problem is that Entity Framework is fragile, as the author points out later in the book. It took a lot of trial and error to find and fix the problem. Hence it taking the entire afternoon. Since this is the first time I have used entity framework I was not aware of its idiosyncrasies. The author is aware of these, so maybe choosing another way of simulating a db might have been better, although on the other hand I now have experience of fixing entity framework bugs!

Point Three: I had to read the chapters on the non-essentials before deciding whether I would bother with them or not. This was a waste of time.

Point Four: Yes I have found the errata page. This is NOT a blog. It provides no forum for discussion whatsoever.

Point Five: This statement "Your only measure of time seems to be "an entire afternoon"." sounds vitriolic to me. So what's your beef and why get personal? I had two issues, both of which took an afternoon to fix. Those are the facts. There have been other issues which have taken less time to fix, again to do with the entity framework, which I have not bothered to mention.

Now that I have reached Chapter 13 I have two further criticisms of the book:

One is that I was astonished to read the diatribe against branding teams and marketing departments in Chapter 10. I don't understand how the editors could allow this completely unprofessional paragraph to be included.

Two is the inclusion of Integrated Forms Security in Chapter 12. Why include education on something that is now obsolete? I did the example anyway, but it didn't work. It caused the application to crash. After carefully checking my coding I googled the error message. I found that there is a known bug when this kind of security is used with MVC which MS haven't bothered to fix because they've deprecated it. So this was another complete waste of time.

Since you seem to be an apologist for this book, maybe you can have a go at justifying these points as well!

I am learning the subject, but it is taking longer than I was hoping. This may be partly due to having suffered a gap in my dot net experience, but I think it is valid for me to point out the difficulties I have experienced with this book, given that there may be others who may be considering purchasing it who also have not touched dot net for a while.

Posted on 16 May 2014 13:03:12 BDT
V-Man says:
This review does read like an ex-developer who moved into tinkering mode a few years back, hasn't kept up to date and is now struggling to get back into it - still running vs2005 in 2014?! That really is coming from a long way back. There is nothing wrong with that of course, we all move on different paths.

Comments like "Too much of the non-essentials such as unit testing, mocking and dependency injection could have been shoved nearer the back of the book" are telling. The 'Pro' series books are all about getting developers up to speed with what professional developers are doing in that field, as it was going back to the (original?) excellent Sanderson/MVC book. If you are a professional developer working with MVC then you WILL be working with unit testing, DI, etc. In fact a professional MVC developer will really struggle to even get an interview without these skills, I know wouldn't waste my time talking to somebody unless I was looking to fill a junior role and the MVC is just in their CV as something they played with in uni/spare time.

The fact that the db chapter was the "first useful chapter" implies, to me a t least, that the goal was a simple one man band old-school web app on top of a db, not a complex team project where patterns, tdd, etc come into play. Again, nothing wrong with that, but I would suggest that a 'pro' book is almost certainly the wrong book (and perhaps even MVC is the wrong tool).

In reply to an earlier post on 16 May 2014 14:37:37 BDT
Adso says:
Fair enough. This was the wrong book for me as a learning tool. However I am now finding it more useful as a reference as I create the app I was assigned to write.

Posted on 19 Nov 2014 10:18:56 GMT
Of course the learning curve was steep and it contained many advanced topics, this is the "PRO ASP.Net MVC 5" book. You should have bought a "BEGINNING ASP.Net MVC" book. Fool.
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