Experiences and Experiments in Programming

 Thursday, February 02, 2012

DataCookbookI was recently asked to review the book, The Windows Phone 7.5 Data Cookbook.  In order to review this book, I was provided a free copy by the publisher.  The book was written to make you an expert in areas of data access and storage in Windows Phone applications.  The book covers databinding techniques, use of local storage and corresponding ways to store data in local storage, on-device databases, consuming cloud data sources like OData, REST, and WCF, and also utilization of the MVVM pattern.  The book uses the concept of a recipe to help understand the concepts of data handling.  A recipe is a step-by-step sample which can be followed and then used as the basis for further development.

While the book presents step-by-step examples of data handling concepts, it is not a book on beginning to develop for Windows Phone.  The book does assume some previous knowledge of XAML and C#.  It is possible to complete the examples in the book with no previous knowledge however,  because all of the code necessary for the examples is provided in the book.

The “recipe” approach to the book is easy to follow and provides a flow that I liked.  You are first introduced to a topic with a brief description.  Then you are told what prerequisites are necessary.  For example, if there are any libraries that need to be downloaded and installed. When there are additional items needed, URLs are provided to the resource.  The next step in the recipe walks through creating the necessary files and provides all of the code necessary in each file.  Once all of the code has been entered, you are told to run your project to see how it behaves.  An explanation is now provided that discusses what you did and why it worked the way it did.  Often there are links provided to Microsoft Knowledge Bases to find out more information about the resources or techniques used.  While I really like the approach of providing links to find out more information, there were times it seemed an excuse to not go into as much detail in the book.  So there are probably some recipes that will require going to the links provided to truly understand a particular technique.

Overall, the book is a great place to start.  It covers a wide range of data handling topics in a manner easily digestible to anyone at any level of experience. The addition of the section on MVVM, while not necessarily a data handling technique, is a big win for those who want to get started writing data driven applications for Windows Phone.  The depth of the examples is such that a reader will be able to understand how to use a particular technique without having to know all the technical details of the topic.  If you want a book on handling data in Windows Phone apps that will get you up to speed fast, but may require more research to become truly proficient, then The Windows Phone 7.5 Data Cookbook is a good place to start.  Chapter 2 - Isolated Storage is provided as a free download if you would like to see how the book is laid out.  You can download the sample chapter here.

Who Am I - Todd Miranda
MVP Visual Developer - ASP/ASP.NET
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