Duthie has produced a readable survey of the basic concepts of enterprise development as they relate to Visual Interdev 6.0 (VI6).
"This book is designed to give the reader unfamiliar with Visual InterDev 6.0 a brief introduction... some background on Web development for client-server application developers.... The real thrust of this book, however, is in describing the challenges faced by the Web developer...."
The above excerpt, from the Introduction, captures the essence of the book. I suspect that the potential reader would have been better served had the title and its MS Series suggested a more introductory level of material. If the reader is experienced with solution architectures, and familiar with VI6, then the book is likely to be a disappointment. On the other hand, if the reader is completely unfamiliar with VI6, the book does not offer sufficient detail to get up and running in VI6. Despite a Web application example used throughout the book, the discussion remains mostly at a bird's eye view. A great number of significant enterprise issues are raised and their theory discussed. Too few are tackled at a practical level.
WEAKNESSES: The target audience for this substantial book is not apparent from its selection of material, nor from its title. It is not basic enough for beginners. It is too basic and generalized for experienced developers. That leaves a group in the middle that may find this a perfect melding of theory and pragmatism.
With an entire chapter on MTS, I expected more than the usual recitation of MTS features and benefits. It really needed a number of explicit examples of the right way to create components for MTS. The chapter on MSMQ was equally theoretical, but experienced VB developers have fewer MSMQ pits to fall into than they have with MTS.
The chapter on "Optimizing Data Access", though well done, focuses on SQL Server techniques, to the exclusion of other DBMSs. Some of the techniques may be applied to other data sources, but the optimization tools are SQL Server only.
STRENGTHS: This really is a wonderful survey of the principles of enterprise development on the Web. For a reader with moderate experience using VI6, and little exposure to enterprise concepts and solution architectures, Duthie provides a solid foundation in the context of Web development. (Most of this is great for the VB Distributed exam 70-175.) The chapter on "Interoperability with Legacy Systems" presents a useful overview of SNA Server and COMTI.
CONCLUSIONS: A very readable book, most useful to moderately experienced VI6 users who have limited exposure to solution architectures and enterprise concepts. More advanced developers may find a few pearls.