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Microsoft XNA Framework Edition: Programming Windows Phone 7 Paperback – Dec 21 2010
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About the Author
Charles Petzold has been writing about programming for Windows-based operating systems for 24 years. A Microsoft MVP for Client Application Development and a Windows Pioneer Award winner, Petzold is author of the classic Programming Windows, currently in its fifth edition and one of the best-known programming books of all time; the widely acclaimed Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software; and more than a dozen other books
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Places where it falls short:
* The WP7 approach to cooperative multitasking leads to a rather convoluted state model for apps. Petzold's discussion of what happens when a user hits the "Back" or "Home" buttons is scattered throughout the book. There really is no unified, coherent discussion of tombstoning or the stacking behavior of app pages. Getting this aspect of an app right is tricky. It's amazing that such a crucial topic is dealt with in such an incomplete manner.
* Very little emphasis is placed on the correct design of a good WP7 user experience. There are lots details about specific control properties, but nothing about how to use those controls in a way that's appropriate for a phone. Essentially, Petzold tells the reader how to write great desktop apps for the WP7 platform. (Fail...)
* Panorama and pivot controls -- central features of the WP7 interface -- aren't discussed until about page 700.
* WP7 is intended to part of an integrated Cloud experience, yet Petzold barely mentions the important topics of network connectivity (e.g., WCF RIA services) or push notifications ("they exist"). And of course, without push notifications, you don't get much in the way of live tile updates on the Start hub. Again, the thinking seems to be driven by a very "1990s desktop" mindset.
* Virtually no mention is made of using tools like Expression Blend to prototype and build an app's page layout and UI structure. Just as Petzold's earlier book focused on the use of low-level window messages to implement menus, so his WP7 book focuses on hand-generated XAML. In an app marketplace expecting quick turnaround and agile development, no developer in his right mind is going to craft a user interface at that level. It's just not cost-effective. (This is especially true if your team consists of developers writing code and designers creating the UI. Designers are never going to craft an interface from raw XAML -- just as they wouldn't write a website in raw HTML anymore.)
* Finally, there's his writing style. Over the years, Petzold's prose has become more and more florid, and apparently no one at Microsoft Press has the courage or good sense to do any editing. (If you're not sure whether prose is too flowery for a technical book, ask yourself if it sounds like something Edgar Allan Poe might have written: "And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain [...]" If the answer is "yes," then it needs editing. In Petzold's case, the answer is "yes" far too often.)
So, I really wouldn't recommend this book for serious WP7 app developers.
Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of great WP7 app-writing books available at the moment. The ones I found useful were:
* Professional Windows Phone 7 Application Development: Building Applications and Games Using Visual Studio, Silverlight, and XNA (Wrox Programmer to Programmer)
* Foundation Expression Blend 4 with Silverlight
The first book covers all the bases for Silverlight-based WP7 apps. It gives thorough coverage of the app-state model, and shallower treatment of many other topics. The second book is a general work on how to use Expression Studio and Visual Studio to write Silverlight apps; it isn't phone-specific, but it provides a lot of good background skills.
As a final comment, I'd add that you'll still need to go through the tutorials on Microsoft's Windows Phone developer website. There's a tremendous amount of useful information there, and it would be a mistake to try writing apps for WP7 without taking advantage of that resource.
Pro's: Very thorough step-by-step discussions of each topic with many illustrations. Covers all topics that a developer needs including architecture, use of Visual Studio 2010 and deployment to the emulator in Visual Studio 2010 or to an actual phone device. I particularly like the author's opinions and speculations about the future directions that Microsoft might take that he inserts for the reader to consider. Also, Microsoft Press books seem to me to be more error free than many others.
Con's: No end-of-chapter questions or glossary of terms. This is actually a plus for me since I am writing my own multiple choice questions as I read the chapters. It is helpful to look back at a chapter and try to identify the most important concepts related in the chapter and then to formulate good questions and answers that differentiate clearly the key information presented from other answers that sound good but are not correct. Sadly, most technical books these days don't include end-of-chapter questions and/or a glossary so the reader's (especially me) often find themselves reading along with the feeling that they "get it" but in a later chapter, suddenly discover that they are lost and don't know what chapter to return to, in order to get back on track.
I've only chosen one other time to write end-of-chapter questions for one other book that I also wanted to master. I wrote over 750 questions for Jeffrey Richter's "CLR via C#" (2nd edition)) because this is another of the few authors and topics that I felt strongly, deserved mastery, not just familiarization.
If the book is by Petzold (or Richter or a few others) I usually want to purchase it with little hesitation as these authors never disappoint me. If anything, I am usually in awe of their tremendous knowledge and ability to craft it into a great book!
BTW: Amazon notified me that they are sending me a check for a little over a dollar because the book price went down after I ordered it. Cool!
The examples provided are simple enough that a learner can follow them but grow in complexity so that you can use them as a basis for real world solutions.
My only minor issue with the book are the typos that show up every so often. However they are not numerous enough nor bad enough to take away from the content of the book.
The book contains many simple examples that get built upon to provide more advanced information. Some of the examples deal with basic movement, rotating text, textures, lines, gestures, using the accelerometer and much more. The lessons are divided amongst basics like showing rotating text, to more complex like a finger painting app and card game.
I have always admired Petzold and his writing style. He even knows what he doesn't know and is not afraid to say it, in one case asking his wife to draw a racing car.
Overall this is a great book for anyone getting into XNA development with the Windows Phone and one I will be referencing quite often
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