Review: AppDev Professional Training (Visual C# 2005: Developing Applications)
 
Published: 29 Aug 2006
Unedited - Community Contributed
Abstract
A review of AppDev's Visual C# 2005: Developing Applications video course.
by Zachary Bussinger
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Introduction

As an intern at Lake Quincy Media, I was given a set of AppDev's Professional Training discs to assist me in learning about development in Microsoft's Visual Studio 2005.  At the start of my internship, I had very little prior knowledge of Visual Studio or C#, let alone writing applications in a Windows environment.  The idea was to watch one of these videos each morning when I came in to work to help bolster my knowledge of the development arena I was about to step into.

This particular set of AppDev videos comes in two varieties: A set of 16 CD-ROMS or a set of two DVD-ROMS.  This evaluation covers the DVD version, but the content of each version is identical.

Contents

This series contains a total of 16 modules with each module containing 2-5 lessons (typically). Each lesson is approximately 20-45 minutes in length with very few running any longer than 45 minutes.  There are a total of 51 lessons in the series.

Here is a link to the video's TABLE OF CONTENTS.  Please use this page as a guide to the sections I refer to throughout this review.

This AppDev course (like all of their other courses) comes with:

·         Over 1100 pages of printable courseware

·         Step-by-step hands-on-labs

·         Sample code

Topics Covered

These videos have a large amount of content; as such, I will not be covering every section in depth in this review.  I will mainly cover the highlights (the sections I thought were very helpful, along with some sections I felt could be improved or expanded upon) and will clump together certain related sections.  I will also include a brief description of each topic.

1) Introduction to Windows Forms, Taking Advantage of the Form Event Model, and Common Windows Forms Controls

These are the first three modules in the series.  They really encompass the same topic, serving as a very good general introduction to Windows programming.  When I watched these I had never done anything with Windows programming and can honestly say that after watching them I have a much firmer grasp on the various foundational concepts involved.  The sample programs provided with these modules are very easy to follow and simple enough for an amateur developer to understand.

2) Exception Handling

This is an excellent introduction to exception handling.  This module encapsulates so much information about handling exceptions.

3) Working with Strings and Dates

Again, not having much experience with C# to begin with, this was an indispensable lesson.  The instructors review the basic .NET Data Types and go in depth about working with strings and dates.  There are many little things that I often forget how to do when it comes to manipulating strings and dates even months after watching these videos, but it is nice to know that I can use the lesson and the sample program to find the answers I need.  There are still many things from these that I have not used in practice, but it definitely taught me a lot about the potential of string and date formatting in .NET.

4) Accessing Data, Data Binding Techniques, Using the Data Controls

For me, these sections were among the most important.  At my job I do a lot of database-related work that requires multiple methods of interfacing with SQL Server 2005 Databases.  The Accessing Data module covers a lot of important concepts in working with ADO.NET and does a great job of it.  Granted, a lot of what is presented is based on Windows application programming, but the concepts are presented generally enough that they can be adapted to different environments.

Within this section there is also a lesson on Data Validation that is very practical and useful. Robert covers validation at the form level and the data level, including how to use event-driven techniques for validation.

Data controls are covered fairly well here too, at least enough to jump in and start getting your feet wet using them (as I think is the idea with most of these lessons).

5) Handling Input/Output Tasks

This section was very helpful for me as well.  Coming from a C++ background, I found that I/O tasks were quite different (in syntax) in C# when I started learning how to code in it.  There are many lessons on this topic, starting with a good introduction to the System.IO namespace and continuing to cover topics like I/O streams, working with files and folders, and working with paths.  The examples for these topics are well thought out and illustrate many of these concepts in an easy to understand way, especially when used in conjunction with the videos.

6) Project Settings in Visual Studio 2005, Debugging Your Applications

This is a good reference for working with various properties in Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 and debugging applications.  There are lessons which teach you how to work with the Project Designer and various properties (application, compilation, debugging).  Project references, resources, and settings are also covered in detail and I have found the lessons to be very useful in practice.

The debugging section here is also GREAT!  I cannot stress how useful the contents of the debugging lessons have been.  Before I got to this lesson, I really did not realize just how powerful Visual Studio's debugging features are.  Breakpoints, stepping through, evaluating variables, edit and continue (my favorite!), tracing, and even debugging assembly code are all covered.  I cannot say enough about how much I took from these lessons; it was really great stuff!

7) Container Controls

I do not do much design work, but these lessons do give some great tips on how to get started with using the various available container controls in Visual Studio.  I know if I ever need to design a relatively complex web page, these lessons and the examples that come with them will be one of the first references I will turn to.

8) Menus and Toolbars

This mainly covers the ToolStrip controls in Visual Studio 2005.  Again, something I do not use much in practice, but useful lessons nonetheless.

9) Creating MDI Applications

This is something I have not really used yet in practice, but they were good lessons and had good examples to accompany them.  Includes lessons on what MDI applications are, working with parent and child forms, and managing the tasks involved in MDI programs.

10) Complex Windows Forms Controls, Creating Custom Controls

The lessons on complex Windows forms controls are pretty much just a marathon run-down of a whole bunch of Windows controls.  Helpful?  Definitely, but this is where one of my few criticisms of the AppDev videos surfaces.

Sometimes the videos really do just become a rundown of various controls/properties that can take a really long time to get through.  Sometimes I found myself wondering if a lot of this could have been included in the reference material or even just briefly touched on with some suggested resources to refer to.  I am not complaining about the information being available in the videos, but it can be grueling to sit through when I could easily Google search for a given control and look all of its properties up or even refer to Microsoft's documentation.  These lessons are still good, but I might not recommend just sitting through all of them.  I would just refer to them as you need them.  The examples for all of these are nice, though.  I would really suggest loading them up in VS 2005 and trying them out.

The lessons on creating custom controls are very good.  They explain how you can inherit from existing controls to make your own or just how to go about making your own controls from scratch.  In my opinion, this is one of the foundational topics in the video series that I am glad to see covered.  This is something that beginning developers will learn to use time and time again as an elegant solution to many problems.

11) Working with ToolBox Components, More ToolBox Components

This is an important section for Windows programming.  Components covered are:

·         FileSystemWatcher Component

·         Process Component

·         EventLog Component

·         Timer Component

·         BackgroundWorker Component

·         PerformanceCounter Component

·         ServiceController Component

12) Interoperability

This covers lessons on using COM.  To be honest, this topic seemed pretty advanced to me (especially for a beginning developer who has never used COM and compared to a lot of the other lessons).  It seems to be a good starting point for learning how to use COM, however, and if I ever wish to use it I will watch the videos and follow the examples much more closely.  The lessons cover calling COM from .NET and vice-versa, using platform invoke, and web services.

13) Deploying Applications using Click-Once

This was a very cool and informative set of lessons.  The videos illustrated the kind of power a programmer has when deploying his or her application and how to use that power effectively.  The deployment options in VS 2005 are really nice.  Personally, I have not yet used them in detail, but I look forward to it.

Conclusions

My experience with AppDev has thus far been very positive.  I have just started watching their series on ASP.NET using C# and look forward to seeing what is offered in an entirely different subject.

There is not much else I would seek to improve in these videos than what I mentioned above in my review (the fact that some of the videos are just a list of controls or properties that could easily be obtained in reading somewhere else).  Even the criticisms I have are not really complaints.  Who can complain about extra content?

The bottom line seems to be that, compared to the cost of hiring professional instructors to teach a topic, the AppDev training videos are a great deal for the price.  A small company (or a large one) can really do a lot with these in terms of training its employees on how to use all of these interesting new technologies.

I would easily recommend this series to anyone.

About the Product

Title

AppDev Professional Training via DVD-ROM

Instructor

Ken Getz and Robert Green

Publisher

AppDev

Edition

Microsoft Visual C# 2005: Developing Applications

Content

16 Modules, 51 Lessons; 24 Hour Runtime

Price

US $1,795.00

Rating

*****

Related URL

http://www.appdev.com/

 

 



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