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Microsoft Visual Studio 2012 Unleashed Book Review

This is the book for anyone looking to get started with Visual Studio 2012 Professional. Over the years Visual Studio has become a sizable integrated development environment. The Ultimate version combined with Team Foundation Server (TFS) is a beast. This book only covers the Professional Edition functionality. No TFS, UML, Coded UI tests, profiling, Web testing, load testing, or layer diagrams and it is a whopping 1149 pages.

I think it was a good idea to only cover the Professional Edition features. Most of our developers use the Professional Edition. We only give the Ultimate Edition to our Enterprise and Software Architects. There are whole books just dedicated to covering TFS and the Ultimate Edition features already, and it allowed the authors to really dig into the programming tools offered by the Professional version.

The book is also not a language book, so don't expect to be taught C# or VB.NET. They do have one chapter on the VB and C# .NET languages. It's pretty much a language primer/syntax overview chapter. For those coming from Java, Objective-C, or C++ this chapter would probably be enough to get you up and running for the rest of the book.

So there are no Ultimate version tools covered, it is not a language guide, and it also does not cover the TFS functionality, that seems like an awful lot for a 1149 page to not be about. Below is the table of contents and it lays out what the book is about!

Part I An Introduction to Visual Studio 2012
1 A Quick Tour of Visual Studio 2012
2 The Visual Studio IDE
3 The .NET Languages

Part II An In-Depth Look at the IDE
4 Solutions and Projects
5 Browsers and Explorers
6 Introducing the Editors and Designers
7 The .NET Community: Interacting Online

Part III Writing and Working with Code
8 Working with Visual Studio’s Productivity Aids
9 Testing Code
10 Refactoring Code
11 Debugging Code
12 Deploying Code

Part IV Extending Visual Studio
13 Introducing the Object Automation Model
14 Writing Add-Ins and Wizards
15 Extending the Code Editor Using Managed Extensibility Framework

Part V Creating Enterprise Applications
16 Creating ASP.NET Form-Based Applications
17 Building Web Sites with Razor and ASP.NET MVC
18 Building Windows Forms Applications
19 Creating Richer, Smarter User Interfaces
20 Working with Databases
21 Service-Oriented Applications
22 Embedding Workflow in Your Applications
23 Developing Office Business Applications
24 Developing Applications in the Cloud with Windows Azure
25 Writing Windows Store Applications Using the Windows Runtime Library

The first three parts of the book concentrate on code level features and tasks that are possible with Visual Studio 2012. It covers all the navigation windows found in Visual Studio 2012, it takes an in-depth look at all the solutions and project types, it covers the editors and designers, how to take advantage of community connection tools, and how to test, refactor, debug, and deploy code.

Part IV covers automation customization and extending Visual Studio 2012. They do a really good job of introducing the capabilities of by implementing a sample add-on.

When I first saw Part V Creating Enterprise Applications it raised a red flag with me at first. I have seen a lot of books that go through the core of what they are trying to teach and then tack on a bunch of general chapters at the end that aren't deep enough to have any meaning. What made these chapters great is that they stuck to the book's tools context. Even though they went deep into creating and coding certain types of applications, they still stuck to the context of the book which is tools centric.

The book does not contain the Visual Studio 2012 Update 1 features like Code Map and the new SharePoint debugging tools. Visual Studio 2012 Update 1 came out well after the book published.

At the time I'm writing this review there are no code samples ready for download. I did notice that the authors had code downloads available for their Visual Studio 2010 unleashed version so I'm hopeful they will soon be coming.

Overall I thought the authors did a great job. They cover a ton of topics and then go really deep on every topic. I would say that if you are a developer and you're looking to get into.net this is an absolute must have booked for learning the ins and outs of Visual Studio 2012. Visual Studio 2012 has some really great productivity tools and if you're not taking advantage of those tools are really wasting a lot of your time, and your customers time or your employer's time.

I think this book should be part of every .NET developer's library. It will definitely be staying by my side to use as a reference.

Microsoft Visual Studio 2012 Unleashed (2nd Edition)

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Tad Anderson has been doing Software Architecture for 18 years and Enterprise Architecture for the past few.

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