Developer

Book review: Find time to read this ADO.NET Entity Framework primer

In this review of Joydip Kanjilal's Entity Framework Tutorial, Justin James reveals why, even though there are some things he didn't like, he thinks the book is a good value -- especially if you want to learn about this complex topic in a short period of time.

Entity Framework Tutorial

I have been hearing about the ADO.NET Entity Framework for some time. Unfortunately, like many of my peers, time constraints make it difficult to learn new skills without a direct need for them. I got the chance to justify spending the time when Packt Publishing sent me a review copy of Entity Framework Tutorial by Joydip Kanjilal. (Read a sample chapter from the book, which details how to get started with the ADO.NET Entity Framework.)

Entity Framework Tutorial is 209 pages (including the Index). Pictures, sample code, and XML take up much of that space, so the book is even shorter than the page count would indicate, which is not unusual for technical books. Nonetheless, I feel like this book is a good value at $35.99 (USD). In the past, when I have wanted to get a basic understanding of a topic, I would spend a few hours poking around the documentation, or jumping right into it and hoping for the best. I feel that this book did that for me. I am saved the pain of thrashing around Visual Studio trying to get some minor mistake corrected to get the code to compile to see if something works the way I think it does.

What I liked most about this book is that it respected my time. I am a busy person, so it was great that this book was a breeze to get through. If you are looking for a book that is heavy on theory, or spends a lot of time holding your hand, then this is not the book for you. There is no lingering on ideas or multiple examples of the same concepts that have been shown. Each idea or topic is given just enough attention to tell you a bit about what it is, why you need to know about it, and the basics of how to use it. If you want a full reference guide showing every permutation of syntax, you should look elsewhere. On the other hand, if you want something that will run (not walk) you through this complex topic in a short period of time, this book is perfect.

I also appreciated the consistency of the examples. Throughout the book, the author uses the same database structure and the same sample application, which is built up slowly over the course of the book. Some books that I have looked at are always using different samples, forcing you to spend as much time getting familiar with each one as you do actually learning the ideas.

Something I did not like so much, though, was the reliance upon the samples. Many times, the book did not explicitly say what you needed to do to accomplish something, but instead showed an example. It was sometimes difficult to pick out in the code what was being done to support the new idea from the text. At the same time, I feel that you could take this book, type in the code and follow the instructions, and truly get a tutorial (just like the title promises) on the topic, in a very "old school" way.

Did I gain a deep knowledge of the topic? No, I didn't. This book is most definitely a primer and not an exhaustive reference. But I know that if I were to jump into a project using ADO.NET Entity Framework, I would understand which way was up, and that is all I can ask for from a book.

If you need a quick, introductory book that assumes you are an experienced developer and does not waste your time, this is good book to read.

J.Ja

Disclosure of Justin's industry affiliations: Justin James has a working arrangement with Microsoft to write an article for MSDN Magazine. He also has a contract with Spiceworks to write product buying guides.

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About Justin James

Justin James is the Lead Architect for Conigent.

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