I have a copy of Murach’s ASP.NET 3.5 Web Programming with VB 2008 (book web site) that I received over the summer and have been meaning to write a short review. So here goes. First of all, I love the “Murach format” for books, especially for “how-to” books which as it happens tend to be what they publish. Specifically, they lay out their books such that typically the left-hand page is providing some explanatory text, while the right page has the corresponding figures, source code, etc. The result is that you pretty much always have everything you need in front of you, unlike 99% of the technical books out there in which you’re always have to flip pages or read through multi-page code listings in order to figure out what line of code or figure the author is referencing.
Another thing I really liked about this book is that if you’re a professor, trainer, instructor, etc. you can get courseware that integrates with the book (thanks, Mark Dunn, for this tip). This is HUGE because normally it’s quite a bit of effort and/or expense to get decent courseware put together (and kept up to date). What’s more, the Murach stuff, for the most part, is pretty good! I know that doesn’t sound like a glowing endorsement, but I’ve used a handful of third party course curricula and I can tell you that many do not meet this bar.
I used the book and its associated training materials (obtained from the publisher) to teach a class last week that went quite well, and I’ll be teaching a second class to the same group of students soon, using the same materials. The class was in C#, but as luck would have it there is also a Murach’s ASP.NET 3.5 Web Programming with C# 2008 (book web site) title that isn’t actually in print yet but which had code samples and courseware available. So, even though I didn’t have the pressed trees version of the book, I was able to use it for the C#-specific course.
The book has 29 chapters and includes coverage of the basics of web programming on up through LINQ, IIS, AJAX, and web services. Its approach to all of these is at a basic, introductory level, and it does a very good job of making these technologies very approachable for students who have had limited or no exposure to these subjects. You can pick up either the C# or VB version for about $33 on Amazon at the moment, which seems quite reasonable given that it’s just under 1000 pages.