Impress your geeky colleagues with clever tips and hidden treasures

I recently got my hands on a very handy .NET book: Best Kept Secrets in .NET by Deborah Kurata (released by Apress).

This one's a keeper. I rank it alongside 'Coder to Developer' (from Mike Gunderloy) as one of the few .Net books that every .Net development team should have a physical copy of, regardless of what your specialty is within .Net.

Wise developers and beginners will all be able to locate something useful in this book, in mere seconds. Even if you know most of the stuff in here -- there will be a lot of times you say "oh, I'd been meaning to look into that..."

Intelligent use of headings, images, captions, pull-quotes and tips, make the book especially easy to scan, which is crucial in this era of the short attention span. Where was I?

It's hard to put down. In fact the only reason I tend to put it down is to try out some tip I've just read.

At first I didn't like the title. "Best Kept Secrets? What a load of rhetorical nonsense!"

But in fact a lot .Net information is secreted away and easily overlooked. These 'Secrets' are not government-conspiracies, or "DaVinci code" style oaths of blood; more like secrecy through obscurity. And .NET (like any technical field) is brimming with obscurity.

Deborah has an entertaining style, she says in the introduction that it was "great fun to write". She's a member of the ineta speaker's bureau (which Julia Lerman is so enthusiastic about) and the book is apparently based on a series of talks (link to a .pdf...) Deborah enjoys giving.

But enough of the gushing admiration. Time for a little brutal criticism.

A few things are curious for their omission. A chapter on Web Forms is sorely needed. (There's a chapter on windows forms, but none on web forms. Why?). The final chapter, titled 'Defensive Development', feels a little out of place, as it races over big topics far too quickly to uncover any helpful tips. Maybe this material could be taken out and expanded into a whole new book, or just slowed down a bit.

For a future edition (and I hope that there is one) I'd like to see some in-depth coverage of streams (they're one of those topics that everyone uses, but few can master). Serialization tips would be nice, because every developer can find a use for it. SQL injection (and cross site scripting) are two topics that deserve coverage in every single coding book, and a few tips on application deployment would add value.

All up -- it's a great book. Enlightening and fun. Cheap too (about US$20 ). A good read on the train, or while trying to put off calling a customer.

Buy a copy for your team, even if you are a team of one.


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(By the way, I read every comment and often respond.)

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