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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It May Not Be Pretty, But It's Pretty Good!
This book seems to have had several negative reviews.
The gist of most people's complaints seem to be:

(a) "There's no XAML until Chapter 19" and/or

(b) "There aren't any pictures".

The Complaints - are they justified?

a. No XAML

People making this complaint have in my opinion totally missed the point for...
Published on January 19, 2008 by G. Mead

versus
17 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Feels like it was rushed to press
I think Mr. Petzold is great, and this book covers many topics well. But it has more mistakes and unresolved issues than I was expecting. Here are 3 examples from the part I'm reading now:

* Page 642: The code doesn't match the description. It talks about a style named "normal" but instead there's a nameless style which hasn't even been covered yet...
Published on September 4, 2006 by Robert


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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It May Not Be Pretty, But It's Pretty Good!, January 19, 2008
This review is from: Applications = Code + Markup: A Guide to the Microsoft® Windows® Presentation Foundation: A Guide to the Microsoft Windows Presentation Foundation (Developer Reference) (Hardcover)
This book seems to have had several negative reviews.
The gist of most people's complaints seem to be:

(a) "There's no XAML until Chapter 19" and/or

(b) "There aren't any pictures".

The Complaints - are they justified?

a. No XAML

People making this complaint have in my opinion totally missed the point for several reasons.

Firstly, this is not Charles Petzold's "How to Write XAML" book. It's a book whose title explicitly tells you that it will approach WPF from both the code (C#) and markup (XAML) perspectives. Unusually (actually I think it is uniquely) he doesn't mix and chop up the two approaches, but deals with each of them in isolation.

Secondly, WPF is not XAML. You can use XAML, sure. You'd be silly not to in many situations. But XAML is only one part of the big picture. As this book clearly shows, you can successfully create an awful lot of WPF output with code alone.

b. No Pictures

Normally I would have some sympathy with Complaint (b) because it's always nice to see what the code samples should produce. But if you use this book as the author intended and actually run the samples yourself you will gain far more than any quick glance at a screenshot would give you. You will gain insight and experience in how to master this new technology.

The Book

This is a book that very carefully works its way through the requirements needed for the reader to achieve a thorough understanding of the major concepts. One of the reasons why I recommend reading it - and using it - from cover to cover is that, even in the early basic chapters little gems of code and explanation are slipped into the narrative or the examples. Often these begin to deal with more complex topics that you will come on to in more detail later.

It is crammed full of detail. Mostly it's the kind of detail that you really need once you've got past the "let's play with WPF and see what you can knock out in a couple of hours" stage. The detail you need when you move on to the point where you want to do something that isn't necessarily easy out of the box, but is achievable if your understanding is built on stone, not sand.

If I have a complaint, it's a minor one: occasionally he lets the Math geek get out and play a bit more than strictly necessary, but even that is fairly rare.

The code samples are in C# only. However, Young Joo on the VB Team at Microsoft has organised for some chapters to be translated to VB.NET and there are more to come. You can access them from here: [...] .

Summary

If you are committed to fully understanding WPF then this book is one you really should buy. By all means get others too. I already have several; they all serve their purpose, are very useful and I refer to them regularly. But when it comes right down to the "roll your sleeves up, go sit in a quiet place with book and PC to learn, really learn, WPF" then I think Charles Petzold has produced a (not so little) gem that will be truly helpful to you in your learning endeavours.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Other Side of WPF, May 19, 2007
This review is from: Applications = Code + Markup: A Guide to the Microsoft® Windows® Presentation Foundation: A Guide to the Microsoft Windows Presentation Foundation (Developer Reference) (Hardcover)
I purchased this book late last year, took a vacation and spent a week reading it cover to cover. Since that time I've written several production WPF applications of moderate complexity that are several generations beyond the WinForms and WebForms apps I had been writting. Several months ago, when it was released, I also got to read Adam Nathan's book on the topic of WPF. Having read both books and used WPF to produce better apps under the usual deadlines, I can honestly say that I benefited from the additional insights gleaned from both books.

When I read Petzold's book and saw the code first approach with XAML introduced later, my impression was this seemed contrary to the preference to XAML I saw espoused in other sources and beta books. As I reconciled this new technology being taught by a long tenured veteran, I got a feeling that perhaps earlier concepts around Win32 UI programming may be the lens through which the author is presenting the material on how to best apply WPF. Needless to say, I paid attention and got more value than I anticipated and beyond what I learned from his WinForms book of similar size. While Adam Nathan's book was a more efficient read for me, and one that I could appreciate in its attention and orientation to the more mainstream presentation of WPF, I think that later book in conjunction with this one is quite useful.

My real critique of Petzold's book was that it should have played more to the what may have been the author's strengths in elucidating the API and imperative coding in WPF. Such an approach may have been a great book as a complement to the many XAML focused ones to follow. I believe the API focused chapters that do exist makes Petzold's book a great contribution to WPF knowledge and application. Sure, in my day-to-day I strictly enforce the UI separation by defining a majority of UI elements in XAML. Without Petzold's book I probably would have went further in this approach. Yet, in reading his material I was reminded of and given an appreciaton for the techniques and the potential benefits of using the WPF API more explicitly to peform a range of tasks that works in concert with XAML declared elements to provide the complete solution.

For understanding the benefits and mechanisms of the WPF API this is a great complement for the many XAML dominated books out there. I rate it a 5 because I learned a greater variety of interesting details related to the WPF API than I would have been predisposed to explore or unable to find just using the MSDN documentation. For WPF API knowledge and understanding that can enhance the code side of solutions defined to a greater or lesser degree in XAML this is a great buy.
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42 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you only get one WPF book, get this one, August 30, 2006
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This review is from: Applications = Code + Markup: A Guide to the Microsoft® Windows® Presentation Foundation: A Guide to the Microsoft Windows Presentation Foundation (Developer Reference) (Hardcover)
Disclaimer - I am one of the senior leads in WPF and helped answer a few questions for Charles (as I do for other writers, press, and developers), and I bought my own copy of this book.

Windows Presentation Foundation sets a new baseline for an application development framework, not only for Windows development, but across the industry. Of note are the integration of UI, documents, and media functionality into a consistent programming model, and the way that this set of functionality interoperates, as well as the expressibility of these concepts in XML (the set of XML tags is referred to as XAML). This is a lot of material to cover, and this book does the best job so far in covering the breadth of knowledge that you will need to develop WPF based applications.

Charles's book reads very naturally (sometimes it felt like I was reading one of the Inside Mac books 18 years ago, which I really enjoyed). Charles provides a good introduction in the first four chapters to get you going, and then takes you through the key built-in layouts (you can also extend by creating your own Panels - chapter 12).

In chapter 8 and 9 he goes through some of the fundamentals that you will need to build your own custom elements/controls, which he tend proceeds to cover in chapters 10, 11, and 12.

Chapter 13 through 16 go through some key controls in a lot of detail.

Chapter 17 takes you into Printing.

In chapter 18 you build a full simple application (a Notepad clone).

Chapter 19 kicks-off a series of chapters that deal with XAML.

Chapter 22 deals with some key concepts, such as running WPF applications/content in a browser, and navigation applications.

Databinding is covered in chapter 23, followed by Styles and Templates (a great way to sequence these concepts, building on previous concepts).

Chapter 26 covers concepts related to a key real world scenario - Data Entry and Data Views.

Chapter 27 through 31 deal with my favorite topics - Graphics and Animations.

Overall a great book, and a good read. Essential for learning WPF at your own pace and getting exposed to the breadth of functionality.

Some of the things that he does not cover: 3D graphics, Media (audio/video), XPS, and Typography functionality.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Definitive WPF Book, September 16, 2006
By 
Jason Jackson "Jason Jackson" (Rapid City, SD, United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Applications = Code + Markup: A Guide to the Microsoft® Windows® Presentation Foundation: A Guide to the Microsoft Windows Presentation Foundation (Developer Reference) (Hardcover)
I have had this book for about 2 weeks now, as Amazon delivered it to me early before the official release. I am a tech book junkie. I buy a lot of tech books. This is the best programming text I have purchased in the last couple of years. Petzold does a great job explaining WPF from both a nuts & bolts prespective and a big picture perspective.

I purchased two other WPF books over the last few months. This book blows both of them away. It was written using the June CTP of the .Net 3.0 framework, which is supposed to be fairly locked down API-wise. All the code works correctly, which I cannot say about my other two books. In the first 5 pages I learned something new about WPF, even though I have been knee deep in the technology for months. Several things that seemed rather mysterious to me in WPF have become crystal clear because of the explanations in this book.

The first half of the book is all C#. The second half is all XAML, acomplishing the same tasks as the first half. This approach really shows the relationship between XAML code and the resulting objects at runtime.

If you want to start programming in .Net 3.0 using the WPF, buy this book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I appreciate this book so much, June 14, 2007
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This review is from: Applications = Code + Markup: A Guide to the Microsoft® Windows® Presentation Foundation: A Guide to the Microsoft Windows Presentation Foundation (Developer Reference) (Hardcover)
I think that Petzold was reading my mind when he wrote this book. I don't like XML, and I don't like "cheating" with XAML when you can write good clean C#. The first half of this book is entirely C# programming in WPF. I am using this book to help me write an abstraction layer above WPF. That simply would not be possible with XAML, which in my opinion places the design of the application at too low of a level. Petzold leaves no stone unturned, and whenever something seems weird, he doesn't ask us to trust him that it makes sense; he explores it in depth for us. I can't imagine that many other authors go through that kind of trouble when they're writing on tight deadlines. Petzold tells it how it is, and he includes the "why." Therefore, I recommend this book to anyone who strives to become a bit of an expert in WPF, not just a get-the-job-done programmer. I would consider this an advanced book at times because I find myself reading and re-reading sections to understand it. The explanation is there, but it's not trivial, and with so many pages in the book already, there is no room to be wordy.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The dust has settled. This is a terrific book., May 4, 2008
This review is from: Applications = Code + Markup: A Guide to the Microsoft® Windows® Presentation Foundation: A Guide to the Microsoft Windows Presentation Foundation (Developer Reference) (Hardcover)
Each chapter is well thought out and develops like a good narrative. Chapters are typically 20, 25 pages and thoroughly explain a central concept. They often end with a nice lead-in to the next chapter, like "this works, but what if you wanted to ...?"

When first published, no one knew what WPF things like StackPanels looked like, so people wanted screenshots everywhere. The book uses a series of concise console applications to demonstrate WPF concepts. I'm glad it does. With a screenshot on every page, the book would be 50% thicker or have less detailed info.

The console apps are self-contained little apps that generally demonstrate one aspect of a WPF feature. After a few chapters, I realized I needn't read every line of code carefully, since the author gives an intro on what to look for in the sample and often an explanation after the example about any non-obvious lines of code.

Other books have their place. I have several others because I sometimes want to examine some topic from several authors' POV. But for taking a programming concept and building a full explanation in clear, logical steps, no one does it better than Mr. Petzold.

Whether you are going to build next-gen Windows apps or develop Silverlight 2 applications, learning WPF and XAML is essential (just as web designers must sometimes work directly with html).

Visual Studio and Expression Blend make assumptions when you drag elements onto the design surface. It's easier to work directly in XAML rather than delete extraneous properties these tools add to your code.

Some criticize it takes half the book before delving into XAML. Anything in XAML can be done in C# (or VB), so starting with the code is a logical foundation for understanding. For things that are easier to wire up in XAML, the author points forward to those chapters. By the time you get to chapters on XAML, if you know anything at all about it, you'll fly thru the pages, filling in gaps about how code and markup work seamlessly together.

I cannot imagine thoroughly understanding WPF without having this book's comprehensive explanations available to me. I think it's a terrific book that will stand the test of time.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The WPF Book I was waiting for, July 30, 2008
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This review is from: Applications = Code + Markup: A Guide to the Microsoft® Windows® Presentation Foundation: A Guide to the Microsoft Windows Presentation Foundation (Developer Reference) (Hardcover)
Every book I had read so far on WPF sidestepped the basic premise behind WPF -- that it was a brand new platform and a new programming paradigm, which will eventually replace WinForms. How did they do that? By glorifying XAML and everything that it could do for you, turning Windows programming into that trash called HTML, which most Windows programmers stay away from. When I read Nathan Adams' highly touted book, I couldn't get past that 3rd chapter. Chris Sells? About the same. The problem was always the same -- each of the aforesaid authors unnecessarily burden you with XAML when you are already trying to get your head around the WPF, thereby glossing over some very, very important concepts!

Charlie Petzold is that seasoned veteran that started doing Windows ever since Windows came into existence. He takes a truly novel approach in teaching you about WPF. He starts off by first telling you about WPF in the language you are most familiar with -- C#. He explains all the concepts, all the ideas, all the tenets. All in C#. And then, when you get familiar with all of that, bam! He hits you with XAML. He then starts showing you how you can do all of the things that he showed you in C# -- in XAML. But by this time, you are no longer struggling with the concepts of WPF. You already know what DependencyProperties and RoutedEvents are. You are already aware of virtual trees and logical trees. So now, when you see them represented in XAML, it makes so much more sense. And it's all easier to comprehend.

The simplest analogy I can give is this: remember the time when you started learning calculus in high school? That was a new enough concept, right? Now imagine if you had to learn that in German (or your non-native tongue)! But once you learn all the concepts in English, you could very well proceed in a language you weren't quite as familiar with.

To me this is the only way I could have learned WPF. And XAML. I was pushing off WPF all these days only because XAML was getting in the way of my learning. While a lot of Web-programmers will be happy for XAML, the fact is, declarative programming is not something Windows programmers are used to. To them, the only way to approach the subject is to first teach them WPF and then show them how XAML comes in the picture.

Having said that, there are a two extremely irritating aspects to the book that start rearing their annoying heads by the time you get to the second chapter:
1. There are no graphics showing outputs from the code. Granted you are expected to run the code samples (which can be downloaded from the MS Press support site), but I shouldn't have to run every single code sample. Moreover, there are times when I'm reading the book on a crowded train, when I can't really run the program on my laptop -- there's barely room to open the book as it is.
2. Every program is a Console app. So after you hit the F5 key, the annoying console window gets in the way of viewing the main Window. You have to minimize the window, or move it in order to see the Window (Form). According to Petzold, it's convenient for him to hit Ctrl-C on the Console window to terminate the program. Note to Petzold: Chuck, have you tried hitting Shift-F5 on your IDE? I find this so debilitating that I had a utility converting every single csproj file in the folder tree from a console to a Windows application.

Aside from that, the code samples run perfectly. I'm on Chapter 11, and so far every single code sample works.

If you are a seasoned Windows/C# programmer facing similar mind blocks against XAML, this is the book for you. If you are a Web programmer for whom C# is subservient to VBScript, or JavaScript, and are comfortable with HTML, this may not be the right entry point for you (as evidenced by some of the low ratings that this book got). You may need to get in via XAML, and a book that overly emphasizes its importance (such as Adams or Sells) might be the way to go.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent guide through the WPF thicket, May 13, 2009
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This review is from: Applications = Code + Markup: A Guide to the Microsoft® Windows® Presentation Foundation: A Guide to the Microsoft Windows Presentation Foundation (Developer Reference) (Hardcover)
When Petzold's original book "Programming Windows" was first published in the mid-80s, THE computer book of the time was "The C Programming Language" by Kernighan and Ritchie. The teaching model of that book was incremental learning through example, always making sure that the reader was not overwhelmed by excessive detail at any particular stage of the learning process. This was the model adopted by Petzold for "Programming Windows" and it was as successful for Windows as it was for popularizing the C language. It is the model that Petzold has continued to follow in subsequent books. I have found this approach, when used by talented writers, to be very effective at producing a good understanding of a complex programming topic. Petzold's book on WPF is no exception.

This is not a book one reads in the living room. Like "The C Programming Language" and Petzold's other books, this is an extended tutorial to be read while sitting at the computer. That's why there are no screen shots in the book: they're on your monitor because that's where you are when you're reading it, at least during the initial reading.

One need only look at the disagreement among reviewers of this book to realize that it's a very different book from the endless mediocre titles offered by computer book publishers. Readers with a long background in software are also likely to realize that the variance in ratings almost certainly occurs because readers approach it with different backgrounds and different expectations.

Any of Petzold's books takes time to go through. That's simply a requirement of a book which teaches by incremental learning through example. Petzold is a very good writer and his explanations are clear, but demonstrating fine distinctions frequently means a topic must be developed at length. My opinion is that most people will take months to fully absorb this book and, therefore, this is not the book you want if your boss just gave you a WPF project and wants to see something on the monitor by the end of next week. There are other books that can help you do that much more quickly but those books, at least the ones I've looked at, will not bring you to the level of expertise that this one will.

This book will not be suitable for someone whose background consists of applications whose interface can be constructed by dropping controls on forms - a Petzold book is not intended for that kind of audience. For those who need to learn something quickly about WPF, Adam Nathan's book is quick reading: I went through a third of it in a couple of weeks before switching to Petzold's book. Although I haven't looked at them, someone under severe time pressure might want to check the instruction videos on Microsoft's web site to see if they can be useful.

The bottom line, for me, is this: WPF is a complex subject with a lot of detail and with architectural concepts very different from traditional GUI frameworks. It can easily overwhelm someone trying to learn it, even someone with decades of experience. It takes an enormous amount of intelligence to be able to take such a subject and break it down into incremental steps to make it understandable the way Petzold has done here. If you need a deep understanding of WPF and you are willing to spend the time that this book requires, this is the one you should get.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very well written, highly recommended, November 9, 2006
By 
Robert Hostetter (Lititz, PA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Applications = Code + Markup: A Guide to the Microsoft® Windows® Presentation Foundation: A Guide to the Microsoft Windows Presentation Foundation (Developer Reference) (Hardcover)
This is a long book, 30 chapters and about 1000 pages. I'm on chapter 28, but I think I can safely say this is an excellent book on the subject of WPF. After reading this book I now have a much greater understanding of WPF and XAML. One important point though, is that it does NOT cover 3D. This isn't really an issue for me because the applications I'm writing near-term will not be using 3D, but it is an interesting omission.
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17 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Feels like it was rushed to press, September 4, 2006
This review is from: Applications = Code + Markup: A Guide to the Microsoft® Windows® Presentation Foundation: A Guide to the Microsoft Windows Presentation Foundation (Developer Reference) (Hardcover)
I think Mr. Petzold is great, and this book covers many topics well. But it has more mistakes and unresolved issues than I was expecting. Here are 3 examples from the part I'm reading now:

* Page 642: The code doesn't match the description. It talks about a style named "normal" but instead there's a nameless style which hasn't even been covered yet.

* Page 681: He says he's "not exactly sure" why a file is needed, but even I can see it's because he unnecessarily included x:Class in his XAML

* Page 697: It says "At least that's the way ...it's supposed... to work." That's not very comforting!

Other nits:

1. This might sound dumb, but is a single screenshot in 1000 pages too much to ask for? There are a few simple diagrams, but probably less than 10 in the whole book. I was shocked by this considering the subject is WPF! At the beginning of the book he suggests typing the examples at a computer as you read along, but I'd rather not be forced to use my imagination when reading the book away from a computer! Even the author's blog uses screenshots to help explain his posts... why can't the book? A picture is worth a thousand words, Charles!

2. Speaking of the size of the book, it would easily be about 50 pages shorter if every piece of code didn't have the useless 3-line "(c) 2006 by Charles Petzold" comment! Isn't the copyright notice at the beginning of the book enough? Not a big deal but I just find things like this annoying and distracting.

3. The author admits that the book is more a tutorial than a reference and it's not meant to be read out of order. Fair enough. For me, I wish it was a bit more reference-like so I can dive into a topic without having to flip back 12 chapters to see what some "ListColorsEvenElegantlier" project was. And without pictures you can't easily flip back and quickly get the gist.

4. It doesn't cover the more interesting parts of WPF, such as 3D, audio/video or even creating custom controls. Custom panels are covered but he spends a huge amount of time talking about the concepts of a RadialPanel (an idea that seems to have been borrowed from an MS employee's blog). This is more of an exercise in math than WPF, though.

Combining all this with the fact that the book is based on a not-yet-finished version of the technology, I have a hard time recommending this. I'd hold off to see how the other WPF books fare.
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