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Code Generation in Microsoft .NET (Expert's Voice Books for Professionals by Professionals) Paperback – January 21, 2004

4.0 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Kathleen Dollard has been involved in the computer industry for a long time. She started (she claims) by experimenting with programming in junior high. After graduate work, she worked with the computer group at Texaco Research writing Fortran and helped usher in the age of PCs doing Lotus 1-2-3 macros. After working with 4GLs and Clipper, Dollard became an independent consultant, ultimately moving to Visual Basic when it became clear that Computer Associates would not release the Windows version of Clipper.

Dollard is well known for her participation over the last 15 years with online communities, including BBSs, Compuserve, Fawcette, DevX, and Microsoft public newsgroups. She has been recognized in some form for her online work since 1994, and she's been a Microsoft "Most Valuable Professional" since 1998. Dollard is also active in the real-world communities of user groups, most recently with the Denver Visual Studio User Group and the Northern Colorado .NET SIG startup. A well-known writer and speaker, she is currently doing pioneering work in code generation using .NET and XSLT.

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Product Details

  • Series: Expert's Voice Books for Professionals by Professionals
  • Paperback: 760 pages
  • Publisher: Apress (January 21, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590591372
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590591376
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 1.7 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,577,541 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I thank the author for this fantastic book on code generation.
Contrary to what I have read on the web this is not a hard book. It is the first truly creative book on .NET I have read.
The code, that is downloadable, includes both C# and VB code.
While this is not a book for developers learning .NET it will prove invaluable to developers who have already started getting tired of writing or adapting the same repetitive code project after project.
This book while introducing a truly unique way of using the tools in .NET is also a good read. The author's writing style is engaging and not the usual mindless .NET prose found in many books.
I have used my own `brute force' code generation since 1998 in VB6 to generate classes and forms. When I started porting my code generation to .NET I soon realised that I would have to redesign and rewrite to fully utilise ADO.NET and started looking for a new application.
After trying all the generation tools out there in the hope of finding a replacement for my own application I was disappointed to see that they all had a `philosophy' that one had to embrace to use their tools and that all the tools were inflexible from a developer's viewpoint. Even the templates only give the developer the functions in the `Black Box' without the option of extending the functionality.
This book takes a bold step forward in the art of code generation giving developers the tools to extract information from a database structure and to then generate custom stored procedures and classes from this metadata using XSLT. The book's main focus is on using XSLT templates but also discusses the use of brute force and CodeDOM for code generation.
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Format: Paperback
I don't understand the viewpoint of the first reviewer. A book isn't one star simply because the content of the book wasn't what you intended. If you expected a book on reflection I'm not sure why you thought a book on code generation was going to do it for you. Perhaps you are thinking about runtime code generation, but I'm sure that would be in the title.
Back to the book. I think it's great. The only flaw I can find is that it's almost too detailed in spots. She presents an entire framework for building SQL DDL, stored procedures, an ORM layer, and user interface with both WinForms and HTML from XML descriptions. She also provides a larger perspective on code generation in the context of the development cycle as well as avoiding the common pitfalls. The jovial tone also keeps it light.
Anyone skilled enough to understand how code generation can revolutionize their development process should be able to handle the VB, XML, and XSLT used in the book, and either apply the principles in derivative work, or use her code directly.
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Format: Paperback
This is a very frustrating book for a couple of reasons. First contrary to what the book and some of the previous reviewers have said, there is no C# support for this book.

I quote the back of the book, "In addition to the text, the tools in the book (downloadable in both VB.net and C#)..." This is untrue. While there are some code examples in C# in the download, almost everything is in VB.net. This includes the code generation harness, which to me is the whole reason to buy the book. If you don't believe me download the code before you buy the book. There is a note in the read me that says as much.

While this might be of small significance to all you VB types, I came to MS from the Java/C world and don't know VB.

The second frustrating thing about the book is that it is about how to deploy a code generator not how to write one. There is a lot of discussion about metadata extraction, how to write good handcrafted code, etc. But the only discussion about how the code generation works is way out in Appendix C: Details of the Code Generation Harness.

Now if this is supposed to be a beginning book on code generation, shouldn't it talk about the code generator and how it works in the actual book??

I wish that someone would have told me these things before I bought it. I think down the road this may be a useful book once can get my hands around the generator. It has chapters on things metadata extraction and interface generation that look very interesting. For that reason I am giving it a 3.
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Format: Paperback
I agree with the author that "code generation" will grow as a dominant force in the IT industry over the next 5 years. When you hear stories about programming tasks being shipped overseas, its not the deep, creative thinking of type work that is shipped... no, they ship the redundant, grunt type of coding which could be described by an algorithm. When you find yourself writing code falling into a predictable pattern, then perhaps you should consider code generation.

Before I read the book, I was already convinced that code generation was a valuable thing to do, but the book helped reshape how I thought of code generation in the context of a large project, or even an IT department.

Here are the main points that resonated with me:
1) Code Generation should be thought of as a step in the overall project build process.
2) The biggest payoff will be gained by generated stored procedures and middle tier components.
3) Code generation allows the architect to decouple the system meta data from the technology. (eg. I can change my data access strategy by simply modifying my template)
4) It is possible to generate UI components.

Finally, the book goes beyond code generation. You will learn other interesting tidbits about Visual Studio .NET and the .NET framework. The appendices include good primers on XML/XSLT and her Code Generation harness. The freely downloadable harness is designed to orchestrate the CodeGen process, but you really need to the book to understand how it works and how it can be extended.
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