Saturday, April 12, 2014

[Book Review] Visual Studio 2013 Cookbook

The team at Packt have given me another opportunity to review one of their just released titles, Visual Studio 2013 Cookbook. As I usually do, I'm not going to give you a chapter-by-chapter review or rundown. Instead I'm going to give you my overall feelings and impressions about the book, what I liked and didn't and why you might want to check it out yourself.

Visual Studio 2013 Cookbook


  • Provides you with coverage of all the new Visual Studio 2013 features regardless of your programming language preference
  • Recipes describe how to apply Visual Studio to all areas of development: writing, debugging, and application lifecycle maintenance
  • Straightforward examples of building apps for Windows 8.1

Chapter 1: Discovering Visual Studio 2013
Chapter 2: Getting Started with Windows Store Applications
Chapter 3: Web Development – ASP.NET, HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript
Chapter 4: .NET Framework 4.5.1 Development
Chapter 5: Debugging Your .NET Application
Chapter 6: Asynchrony in .NET
Chapter 7: Unwrapping C++ Development
Chapter 8: Working with Team Foundation Server 2013
Chapter 9: Languages
Appendix: Visual Studio Medley

Let's start with the bad...

I usually don't write "bad" reviews ("If you can say something nice..." and all that) and I'm not this time either. BUT you have to understand the intent of the book before you get it. Based on the title and chapter headers, I got something different than I expected and that colored my initial feelings.

Frist off, I think the book is good and has a great information, but the description and information on its page might led to confusion about its actual content.

I thought I was going to be reading a book about Visual Studio 2013, the IDE. Recipes on using it, tips and tricks for getting the most out of VS itself.

It's not that.

It's more a book about learning to cook with the new technologies available in VS 2013 than about VS 2013 itself. Does that make sense? It's more about what you can make with a stove, not really about the stove itself.

For example, here's a snip from the book's description page;

What you will learn from this book

  • Customize the editor’s new abilities to fit your development style
  • Create apps for Windows 8.1
  • Use Visual Studio to debug parallel and concurrent programs
  • Integrate .NET Framework 4.5.1 effectively
  • Learn about both the Express and premium editions of Visual Studio
  • Maximize Visual Studio's C++ tools to make development easier
  • Put TypeScript to work in your web applications
  • Protect and manage your source code with Team Foundation Server
  • Learn about Visual Studio Online

This might lead you to believe that the book is indeed about VS itself. I know I thought so. But then see the lines, "Create apps for Windows 8.1 " and "Put TypeScript to work in your web applications." THAT is what I talking about as being what you can make with VS 2013, not being about VS 2013 itself. And a many of the chapters are like this. Using VS 2013 to build WinStore App's from a template, creating a WCF Service, Adding a Ribbon to a WPF App, etc, etc.

Don't get me wrong, there are many parts that help you learn to use VS 2013, but my impression is it's 50/50, VS verses Cooking with VS...

My suggestion to you is too really read the FULL chapter descriptions and check out the preview before purchase, so you understand what you are jumping into. DON'T be like me and stop at the chapter headers, but continue on down the page and look at the chapter contents.

Enough whining, now the Good...

If taken as a "What can I Cook with VS 2013," this book provides a great survey of many of the new capabilities and features now available. The cookbook format is used well and provides nice bite sized chunks of digestible information.

The book is also very current and up to date. For example, the name change of SkyDrive to OneDrive is noted in the book. Also VS 2013 Update 2 Beta is  mentioned (not VS 2013 Update RC of course, as that was just announced last week)

The breadth of covered technology is also nice. WPF, WCF, WinStore, TFS, etc is all covered. It's a great survey of what you can do with VS 2013.

Should you get it?

If you have VS 2012 and are wondering what you can do once you VS 2013, looking for reasons why to upgrade, this looks like a great book. Again, make sure you look at the chapter details, but if you are using VS 2012 and are trying to convince someone, yourself, co-workers, boss, etc on why you might want to upgrade, what you'll be able to build and do once you get it, yeah, you should look a long close look at picking this book up.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe my readers will enjoy. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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[Book Review Preview] Visual Studio 2013 Cookbook

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