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  • Book review : Framework design guidelines

    Posted on October 9th, 2011 Thibaut 2 comments
    Framework design guidelines

    Co-written by two Microsoft employees at the time (Brad Abrams now working at Google), this book is actually a publication of Microsoft guidelines that were produced along the way during the development of the .NET framework. Targeted to a large audience – developers from all levels will learn from this book – you’ll learn how to design a high quality framework, which naming guidelines to apply, type and member design, how to design exceptions, guidelines on how/when to use common types and interfaces of the .NET framework, such as arrays, attributes, collections, serialization, etc. The book also explains the common design patterns of a framework and how to create a good API specification before coding your framework. Very clear and filled of comments of dozen of people participating in the development of the .NET framework, this book is an instant classic !

    Pros

    • Very clear and instructive
    • Lots of guidelines commented by people working on the .NET framework, providing valuable information on how/when to apply those guidelines, when to break the rules, …
    • Developers of every level will benefit from this book

    Cons

    • Nothing special, very good book in overall

    Conclusion

    Excellent book. A must-read for every .NET developer.

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  • Book review : Smart & Gets Things Done

    Posted on September 19th, 2011 Thibaut 1 comment
    Smart & Gets Things Done

    Joël Spolsky, a former Microsoft employee, created his company Fog Creek Software based on the strong belief that hiring top software developers, treating them like rock stars and providing them the best tooling and work environment leads to a profitable business. From empirical results, this philosophy seems to be true. In this book, Joël describes and justifies this philosophy in a concise and humorous book, filled with real life examples and anecdotes. In a nutshell, you’ll learn why hiring top developers is so important (depending on which business you’re in), how to attract and retain such profiles that are basically never on the market, what kind of office and tooling works best for productivity, etc. While one could think it’s intended for the IT recruiters audience, I found that this reading was very interesting for developers as well, so you know what qualities recruiters are looking for, among other things.

     

    Pros

    • Concise (can be read in an afternoon) and funny book
    • Lots of interesting infos and insights about recruiting top software professionals

    Cons

    • Conception given in the book is maybe a bit too elitist : while it claims that only top professionals should be hired, a lot of companies can’t afford to do that (they couldn’t attract nor retain those kind of people, unchallenging tasks is just one reason among others). A lot of projects don’t require every developer to be a rock star to succeed

    Conclusion

    Very interesting book in overall. Just keep in mind that those principles only apply to companies who have the potential to attract and retain top developers. In that case, the learnings from this book prove to be very useful. Myself working for a company applying those principles (great people, great tooling, great environment such as free catering, massage, etc), I can definitely tell from experience that the results are incredible !

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  • Book review : WPF 4 training kit

    Posted on July 15th, 2011 Thibaut 3 comments
    WPF 4 training kit

    I bought this book with the only objective to pass the WPF4 MCTS exam and I aced it ! So, this official training kit did the job. But let’s talk about the content and some remarks. The book covers the various topics that you are required to know to pass the exam. Those can be found on the Microsoft website. At the end of each chapter, you find exercices – exam style – to test your knowledge. There’s also a CD containing a digital copy of the book (pretty convenient if you want to search for keywords in the book) but more importantly you can practice using a program under different modes. Basically, study mode allows you to target specific topics with no limitation in time while certification mode puts you in exam situation using a timer. So that’s definitely valuable tooling to prepare you for passing the exam.

    Pros

    • Official training kit from Microsoft press, solely designed to make you pass the exam
    • Pragmatic and efficient approach, much easier to study with than the MSDN (which I used first when this book wasn’t released yet)
    • Did the job : I aced the exam scoring 90%

    Cons

    • Some errors in the book (minor though)
    • Some questions on the program related to topics that are not covered in the book

    Conclusion

    Valuable resource to help you pass the exam. Although, to make sure you pass it, don’t only rely on the book as the exam requires real experience that you cannot acquire by just reading. I also had questions during the exam about stuff that wasn’t covered in the book, so make sure you don’t limit your study to this book. I also read WPF4 Unleashed which was useful, you can find my review here. Good luck ;)

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  • Book review : CSS3 for web designers

    Posted on January 13th, 2011 Thibaut 108 comments
    CSS3 for web designers CSS3 for web designers is the second book from A Book Apart, a new publishing company specializing in writing brief books on various web topics. All those books are about 100 pages long, laser focused, covering only essential topics. This book, written by CSS expert Dan Cederholm will teach you the essential topics of CSS3 that can already be used today. Covered topics include a presentation of CSS3 and the core properties already implemented by the majority of web browsers (border-radius, text-shadow, opacity, RGBA, …), transitions, hover-effects crafting based on the development of a mini-website, transforms (rotate, skew and translate), multiple backgrounds (including techniques such as parallax scrolling), forms enrichment (kickass buttons in pure CSS, pulsating glow effects on field inputs, CSS gradients and keyframe animations) and finally links to some of the best CSS3 resources on the web are provided.

    Pros

    • Very brief book, making effective use of our time
    • Relevant decision to cover only a portion of CSS3, but in depth because it’s widely implemented by web browsers and thus usable today, instead of covering more topics that might even not be ratified by the W3C
    • Full color book

    Cons

    • Quality of the book itself (cover paper) is pretty poor. The thinness of the paper makes it a book that gets easily damaged
    • Currently available only from A Book Apart. Took me 3 weeks to get it from NYC to Belgium

    Conclusion

    Very interesting introduction to CSS3. Gives you what’s needed to know to improve the experience of your websites or web applications starting from today.

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  • Book review : HTML5 for web designers

    Posted on January 11th, 2011 Thibaut 181 comments

    HTML5 for web designers

    HTML5 for web designers is the first book from A Book Apart, a new publishing company specializing in writing brief books on various web topics. All those books are about 100 pages long, laser focused, covering only essential topics. This book, written by Jeremy Keith (author of DOM Scripting, that I reviewed here), will guide you through the hot new stuff that HTML5 offers and how to harness its power from now on. Covered topics include a brief history on HTML markup, the design of HTML5, rich media (canvas, audio & video tags and the different options, …), the new features of web forms (new types of inputs such as calendar, sliders, …), semantics (microformats, new HTML5 tags such as header, footer and nav, content models, outlining, scoped styles, …) and finally how to use HTML5 today with an introduction of the different tools and libraries to help you out in this task.

    Pros

    • Great idea to write brief and laser focused books. This is a change from the traditional bibles of hundreds (thousands sometimes) of pages taking decades to digest
    • Very interesting introduction to HTML5, covering essential topics and explaining how to use them already based on current browser support
    • Full color book

    Cons

    • Quality of the book itself (cover paper) is pretty poor. The thinness of the paper makes it a book that gets easily damaged
    • Currently available only from A Book Apart. Took me 3 weeks to get it from NYC to Belgium

    Conclusion

    Very interesting book for web developers and designers planning to learn HTML5. Be aware that, due to its very small size, this book is rather an introduction than a course. A good starting point before digging further into HTML5. Would be great if the quality of the paper and distribution channels could be improved.

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  • Book review : WPF 4 Unleashed

    Posted on October 19th, 2010 Thibaut 68 comments
    WPF 4 unleashed Widely acclaimed as the best WPF 4 book out there, I decided to buy this book from Microsoft’s Adam Nathan to improve my WPF/Silverlight knowledge. This book really covers in great details almost every topic of interest in WPF : XAML, controls (user controls + custom controls), layout, panels, resources, data binding, styling & theming, 2D & 3D graphics, animation, audio, video, interoperability with non-WPF technologies and more… Presentation of the book is really nice also, in full color with coherent evolution from chapter to chapter. Just note that, because of its extreme completeness, this book isn’t suitable to learn WPF in a “fast & effective fashion”. It’s rather a reference book to keep near your computer to check specific information.

    Pros

    • Great book, covers WPF really in deep
    • Full color, well organized book
    • You’ll learn a lot from this expert author who really knows his stuff

    Cons

    • The biggest pro is the biggest con : so many details that it’s easy to lose your attention from core points
    • Some chapters cover advanced topics before basic ones (eg : “2D graphics” chapter covers PolyQuadraticBezierSegment in the first pages, way before Rectangle)

    Conclusion

    I would definitely recommend this book, which is a must-have on your bookshelf if you’re a WPF/Silverlight developer. But if you’re a beginner looking for a quick-start book to make effective use of your time, you’d rather buy a less detailed book before buying this one !

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  • Book review : Learning WCF

    Posted on July 19th, 2010 Thibaut No comments
    Learning WCF

    For future challenges, I’ll have to learn WCF in deep, so I decided to start with this book. Next one will be Lowy’s Programming WCF services book, which covers WCF even more in depth. But let’s talk about the book I’ve just read (written by Michele Leroux Bustamante, Chief Architect of IDesign and colleague of Juval Lowy). I found it was a perfect book to start with WCF : introduction to SOA and its tenets, teaching of the key concepts of WCF such as contracts, bindings, hosting, instancing & concurrency, reliability, security and exceptions & faults. And to help you master these concepts, each chapter contains several labs where you can put into practice what you’ve just learnt. A very effective approach. Just note that this book doesn’t cover peer-to-peer protocols (which is done in Lowy’s book).

    Pros

    • Great book, covers a lot of ground of WCF
    • The labs really help in mastering all the concepts

    Cons

    • No cons for me. Just keep in mind that this book doesn’t cover peer-to-peer protocols

    Conclusion

    I recommend this book which will give you a strong knowledge of WCF on which you can build upon with Lowy’s book if you want to go even further.

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  • [FR] Livre : Visibilité sur le web

    Posted on January 30th, 2010 Thibaut 4 comments
    Visibilité sur le web Visibilité sur le Web (dans sa version anglaise Search Engine Visibility) est un ouvrage de Shari Thurow, reconnue mondialement comme une experte du SEO. Au travers de celui-ci, elle nous enseigne les bonnes pratiques à suivre pour optimiser le référencement naturel d’un site web. Les sujets couverts vont du fonctionnement des robots d’indexation des moteurs de recherche à l’optimisation des pages web, en passant par l’optimisation des images, des fichiers multimédia, etc. Bon nombre de mythes sont également discutés et démystifiés. Pour finir, un chapitre traîte des mauvaises pratiques et les pièges à éviter dans le cadre d’une campagne de référencement.

    Les +

    • Un livre écrit par une personne de référence dans le domaine
    • Très instructif et très bien construit
    • Couvre bon nombre de sujets du SEO

    Les -

    • Pas un inconvénient mais plutôt une remarque : ce livre ne rentre pas profondément dans les détails techniques (pas de chapitres traitant d’alternatives d’implémentation, absence de bouts de code)

    Conclusion

    Un très bon livre qui constitue une excellente entrée en la matière. Cependant, le domaine du SEO étant très vaste, d’autres lectures plus techniques seront nécessaires à ceux désirant approfondir le sujet.

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  • Book review : DOM Scripting

    Posted on January 2nd, 2010 Thibaut 1 comment
    DOM Scripting This excellent book, which primarily targets a web designer audience, teaches you how to manipulate the DOM effectively but also other essential topics used in web development. Prior to reading this book, I already had a good knowledge of the DOM, so the technical aspect wasn’t what I learned the most from this book. And it’s also because the book won’t dig deep into technical aspects as the targetted audience is web designers (and not necessarily developers). An interesting consequence of this is that the author did an outstanding teaching work to make it easily understandable. But what you’ll learn is, according to me, way more useful than pure technical stuff : mastering concepts such as usable javascript, unobtrusive javascript and graceful degradation.

    Pros

    • Very well written and explained : technical concepts are vulgarised and examples are very relevant (mini websites using all the concepts that were teached).
    • Excellent course about the DOM and web development practices using Javascript.

    Cons

    • As the book was written primarily for web designers, it might leave some developers thirsty for more. But anyway, the more important stuff is in the book so that makes the deal. Just keep in mind that you won’t go in deep technical details in this book.

    Conclusion

    Another instant-classic book that will not only teach you the DOM very well, but also essential concepts such as usable javascript, unobtrusive javascript and graceful degradation. If you’re working in the web and those concepts are not familiar to you, this book is a must-have on your bookshelf ! But if you already have an advanced knowledge of these things, you might prefer to pick up another, more advanced book.

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  • Book review : Guidelines for Online Success

    Posted on November 11th, 2009 Thibaut No comments
    Guidelines for online success Written by industry experts, this book is a collection of best practices for web application and website development. Divided into 6 chapters (Interface & design, Marketing & Communication, Technology & Programming, Technical advice, Content/Content management and E-commerce) and widely illustrated, “do” & “don’t” are discussed about many notions of web development. Anyway, this book doesn’t assumes his title at all as it’s more a collection of pictures of nice websites than practices to follow. Even worse, among the few practices we’re given, many of them are completely unuseful and even redundant.


    Pros

    • Full-color book
    • Very well crafted, original divisions into “tabbed” chapters with color schemes for each one of them


    Cons

    • Absolutely not a collection of “guidelines”, too few text and way too many pictures
    • Some “guidelines” are completely dumb, such as “don’t make ugly layouts” and “don’t hide your navigation”
    • Because the book is written by many people, some “guidelines” are redundant. I was told at least 5 times in the book that “my website should not take too long to load”

    Conclusion

    Absolutely not interesting about the “guidelines” aspect, but the book stills remains valuable if you’re using it like a “Web Design Index” for inspiration of best web productions.

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