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Platt David S. Introducing Microsoft .NET

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Platt David S. Introducing Microsoft .NET
2nd ed. — Microsoft Press, 2002. — 320 p. — ISBN-10: 0735615713; ISBN-13: 978-0735615717.
What problems can Microsoft .NET solve? What architectural approaches does it take to solve them? How do you start using .NET, and how do you profit from it? Get the answers to these questions and more in the entertaining second edition of this book—now expanded with seven new chapters based on final release code for the .NET Framework. Its organization makes it easy to choose how deep you want to go technically. The well-known author and consultant expertly covers a single topic from the top down in each chapter, introducing simpler concepts first and then progressing into greater technical detail. He makes his points with a minimum of jargon, a maximum of wit, a multitude of diagrams, and a wealth of meaningful analogies and clear explanations. By the end of this illuminating .NET walk-through, you'll know enough about this revolutionary platform to plan for the future of software as a Web service.
I always thought that the product now named Microsoft .NET sounded very cool. I remember reading Mary Kirtland’s articles in the November and December 1997 issues of Microsoft Systems Journal describing what was then called COM+, a run-time environment that would provide all kinds of useful services, such as cross-language inheritance and run-time access control, to object programmers. As a COM geek, I liked the way this environment promised to solve many of the problems that kept hanging me up in COM.
Microsoft then decided that the next version of Microsoft Transaction Server would be called COM+ 1.0 and would be integrated into Windows 2000; what Mary had described would be COM+
2.0. Later, Microsoft renamed COM+ Microsoft .NET, and I coined the term MINFU, Microsoft Nomenclature Foul-Up, for all this jumping around. But the product still sounded cool, and I was thrilled when Microsoft Press asked me to write a book about it with the same high-level treatment as I had given COM+ 1.0 in Understanding COM+ (Microsoft Press, 1999). You are holding, and, I hope, buying, the result.
I was afraid that Microsoft wouldn’t let me tell the story my own way, that they would insist that I hold to the party line. That didn’t happen in this book, not even once.
Everything that I say in this book, whether you agree or disagree with it, is my own call.
Obviously, I like .NET and think it will make its users a heck of a lot of money, and Microsoft doesn’t disagree. When a prospective employer asks you for a reference, do you provide someone who thinks you’re a demigod, or someone who thinks you’re a turkey? Most programmers I know could provide some of both. In some internal correspondence about an early draft, a project manager took exception to one of my rants about administrative tools and wrote to me, it makes the purpose of the book more editorial than instruction, IMO. Is that your intention? I wrote back to this person, I am proud that my book points out the bad parts of .NET as well as the good, the costs as well as the advantages. I’d be a weasel if I did anything else. IMHO, I consider this to be instruction. If you’re accusing me of calling ‘em as I see ‘em, I plead guilty, as charged.
I can’t stand dry reading, any more than I can stand eating dried-out fish or meat. I remember my freshman year in college, when I tried to spice up a chemistry lab report with a couple of jokes and got flunked for my pains. Levity has no place in science, my professor said. Do it over again. Passive voice should be used throughout. He’s the only guy I’ve ever met with a mustache carefully shaved into a permanent frown. You didn’t get tenure, did you, Phillip? Lighten up, you’ll live longer, or at least enjoy it more. Maybe he was trying to keep himself bored to make his life seem longer, but he shouldn’t inflict it on the rest of us.
To me, the best authors are also the best storytellers, even in, or especially in, the often dry fields of science and history. For example, I greatly admire Laurie Garrett’s The Coming Plague (Penguin, 1995), Evan S. Connell’s Son of the Morning Star (North Point Press, 1997), and William Manchester’s biography of Winston Churchill entitled The Last Lion (Little Brown, 1983). Think about your college textbooks, written by people like my former professor. What could be a bigger turnoff? Then read this excerpt about Emile Roux’s development of diphtheria antitoxin and the first human trials, during a vicious outbreak among children in Paris in 1894:
Roux looked at the helpless doctors, then at the little lead-colored faces and the hands that picked and clutched at the edges of the covers, the bodies twisting to get a little breath. . .
Roux looked at his syringes—did this serum really save life?
Yes! shouted Emile Roux, the human being.
I don’t know—let us make an experiment, whispered Emile Roux, the searcher for truth.
But, to make an experiment, you will have to withhold the serum from at least half of these children—you may not do that. So said Emile Roux, the man with a heart, and all voices of all despairing parents were joined to the pleading voice of this Emile Roux.
You can read about Roux’s choice and its results in Microbe Hunters by Paul de Kruif, originally published in 1926 and periodically reissued, most recently in 1996 by Harcourt Brace. Not much academic objectivity there, but which would you rather read? I know which I’d rather write. I do not come close to de Kruif’s eloquence, and I seriously doubt that anyone will be reissuing this book when I’m 112 years old. But I’ve done my best to make it slide down easily, and how many technical authors even try?
De Kruif closes his book by saying, This plain history would not be complete if I were not to make a confession, and that is this: that I love these microbe hunters, from old Antony Leeuwenhoek to Paul Ehrlich. Not especially for the discoveries they have made nor for the boons they have brought mankind. No. I love them for the men they are. I say they are, for in my memory every man jack of them lives and will survive until this brain must stop remembering. As I say in my epilogue (no fair jumping there now; you have to read the whole book first), the Internet is doing nothing more nor less than evolving the human species. Microsoft .NET is the product that’s going to crack it wide open. And I find it extremely cool to be chosen to tell the story and to tell it my own way. To talk with the project team, to discuss what the future of computing will be and why, is the reason I switched to Microsoft Press from my former publisher. Early readers have told me that comes through in my text. I certainly tried for that, and I hope they are right.
Every book is a team effort, like a moon launch but on a smaller scale. The authors, like the astronauts, get such glory as there is (you’re all coming to my ticker tape parade, aren’t you? ), but without all the other people who worked so hard on this project, you’d never get to read it. Like the thousands of Project Apollo team members, most of them get very little acknowledgment (although I think the chain-smoking, vest-wearing flight controller Gene Kranz, played by Ed Harris, nearly stole the show from Tom Hanks’s Jim Lovell in the movie Apollo 13 . ) Until someone makes Introducing Microsoft .NET into a
movie (a fine idea, any producers out there? ), I’m afraid they’re stuck with only this
acknowledgment to tell the world of their deeds.
First honors must go to John Pierce, the lead editor on this book. He played a secondary role on my last Microsoft Press book, Understanding COM+, a couple of years ago. I was very happy to find out that he was available for the lead role on this book. His sense of humor is as warped as mine. I knew he wouldn’t cramp my style or change my voice, which, love it or hate it, you’ll have to agree is distinctive. He shaped my prose in a better way than I could have.
Next come Jean Ross and Marc Young, the technical editors. They tracked down the answers to all of my technical questions, usually under great time pressure and in the face of daily changes to the code builds. In addition to Jean and Marc, many of the .NET project development team took time from their brutal schedules to set me straight on things. I’d like to especially thank Keith Ballinger, Susan Warren, Mark Boulter, Loren Kohnfelder, Erik Olson, John Rivard, Paul Vick, Jeffrey Richter, and Sara Williams.
On the acquisition side, Ben Ryan started the process two years ago, and Danielle Bird took over when he moved on. Anne Hamilton backstopped the process. Teresa Fagan, a Microsoft Press group product manager, upon hearing the working title Introducing Microsoft .NET had the idea, Hey, you ought to get that as a web address, and I ran through the rain back to my lonely writer’s garret (OK, it was the Bellevue Club Hotel’s concierge floor) and snagged it before anyone else could act on the thought. That was the cherry on top of the sundae.
Finally, I need to thank my wife Linda, now a mother to our daughter, Annabelle, and Annabelle herself, who now not only names individual objects (Simba) and calls methods on those objects (Feed Simba) but recognizes that objects are instances of classes (Simba is a kitty cat).
David S. Platt
Ipswich, Massachusetts, USA
April 2001 and March 2002
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