Like so many technology books, this sits in a topic space where there is just not a lot of material to draw from. Much like its cousins, BizTalk, SiteServer, and CRM - there is not a wealth of information available in print media. Ok, so what makes this book a bummer?
A reasonable person would assume that when you buy a book for $40-60, that you are getting something insightful - something that you would have traded your sister for to have figured out without spinning your wheels endlessly or burning support incidents @ $225 a pop. Unfortunately, this book adopts the lowest possible threshold in terms of content. Here's the irony: I sat down to plug away at an InfoPath Solution and figured I'd follow the book just to see what happened. By Page 10 I was annoyed. By Page 20 I was checking the Index and Appendix to search for my specific interests (after all, I had something I wanted to get on with). An hour later, I was consulting some very cool material online, complete with blow-by-blow examples, code shots, and visuals. Book has been sitting in its last known good configuration since then. What's worse, a simple search on the InfoPath help topic yielded EXACTLY the same material as in the book. Well WTF. It turns out that Wrox's authors basically pillaged and regugitated the Help file - almost verbatim. That's what prompted me to write this. I didn't have to pay for the book, but if I did - I would be plenty pissed-off right now....and shortly after I calmed down, Barnes and Noble (err...or Amazon, yeah that's it!) would be getting my return. Naturally, at that point I would have burned 5 hours between shopping, buying, reading, commenting and returning the book - which is a gross waste of time. Save yours: listen up.
The first 4 chapters of this book talk about XML, Schemas, DTD's, XSLT, and reference materials. Honestly, there's so much useless information here, you might as well read the intro and go straight to Chapter 5. Why? For several resons: I don't need a reference book on XML, or any of its cousins. That's already published for free. Plus, InfoPath takes all of that pain away. Drag and drop, link controls to bindings, choose a data source, link it to your bindings and away you go. I don't need to read 100 pages of materials on the inner workings - we know it works, that's why we're using it. Only the most bleeding edge / neurotic / hardcore developers with weird requirements are ever going to have to mess around with that stuff. Rapid Applications Development anyone? - That's what InfoPath was designed for.
Chapters 5,6,7,8 are the meat. Chapters 15,16,17 have worthwhile examples of ADO.NET script.
What I would like to see:
Working examples of full-on solutions. Fabrikam, BizTalk, SQL, BI.
More code shots.
Show me how to design a Form within Visual Studio.Net 2003/2005, and work the code-behind to do neat stuff.
Show me how I can develop solutions using SharePoint, XML, and BizTalk.
Show me how to create a custom Web Service? (this is, ahem, rather important, and not very well done)
Solutions people. Rapid development. Small books that put you in the driver's seat ASAP.
This isn't it.
Note: One of the best publishers I have seen recently re: Technical Books has to be Rational Press. I have found their books to be highly insightful, right to the heart of the matter, and @ sub-100 (or thereabouts) pages, you get a lot of bang for $20 bucks.
Wrox: Are you listening? Bad Monkeys. Stop the proliferation of title after title. It's like like dating a Narcissitic woman: they're so in love with themselves that they LIVE to hear themselves talk: even if it's complete Tripe that comes out of their mouths.
Technologists (aspirinig or professionals) would do well to remember that Wrox is in the business of publishing and selling books: that doesn't always mean that they are worth your time or your money. I have watched Wrox's value as a print resource slowly degrade since I stated reading their titles in 2000. In my opinion, they are no longer a trusted (and valued) informational resource. Wrox has saturated the marketplace with title after sub-title - many of which never should have received their own cover, much less their whopping price tags. (Do you guys publish books at any other price point other than $50.00?) Not many, to be sure.
Potential buyers: think, read, and review before you buy any technology book. Wait for the next offering on InfoPath (if there is one before Office v.12). Your best bet will be online: MSDN, GotDotNet, BizTalk, and some other very neat sites that specialize in valuable content - for free! Google it. You won't be sorry.