This is one of those books I was very eager to read and review, and I wasn't disappointed. In fact as soon as I got it from the publisher, I started working through it, eagerly devouring every word. Julie Lerman and Rowan Miller demonstrate DbContext, an API for the Entity Framework that lets you query plain old common objects (POCO) or collections of entities and any related data.
This book and another companion title, Programming Entity Framework: Code First, are continuations to the Programming Entity Framework: Building Data Centric Apps with the ADO.NET Entity Framework (all three available from O'Reilly). You could more accurately call them extensions of material originally covered in that book, but not repetitions—thank you O'Reilly!
The book begins by covering the basics of the DbContext API and where it fits into the world of EF but does so without bloat. The authors then jump into the sample BreakAway project and by Chapter 2 you'll be writing full-fledged methods to query data! The book covers sorting, filtering, and joining related entities as well as navigating entity rows.
Next comes a thorough coverage to using the DbContext API for data manipulation (insert/update/delete) on both single and multiple entities. It also introduces change tracking, a very important aspect of working with EF. It's obvious the authors understand this because they devote a later chapter to it in detail. The book then turned to working with disconnected, n-tier architectures (shocking me since I've been working with EF for awhile and didn't even know it had these capabilities). Finally, Julie and Rowan bust a move by diving into logic validations, and a whole chapter on using DbContext in a variety of advanced scenarios. Yes, this includes preexisting applications (vielen dank)!
A highly notable aspect was the numerous and comprehensive code samples. I'm not talking snippets here, but fully functional programs that contain properties, methods and complete syntax for learning to work with DbContext. You will want to download the BreakAway project files from LearnEntityFramework.com. And trust me, the project just works and that can't be said for too many of those sample code downloads you get from a lot of books.
Some might assume this book an afterthought due to its close relationship with Programming Entity Framework: Building Data Centric Apps with the ADO.NET Entity Framework. Don't be misled. I say this book didn't meet my expectations. It exceeded them! I also feel keeping the page count down on the book did it justice. This allowed our venerable authors to maintain focus on the topic at hand, which also makes it a great reference. If you're interested in learning the DbContext API, this is the book to keep close at hand. I may even order me a hard copy of this one and get it autographed by Julie and Rowan; I predict it'll go down as a classic!
* Disclaimer: The e-book version of this book was given to me by a representative of the publisher in exchange for a review. However, all opinions and observations regarding the text are my own, and based on my experience as a professional developer.