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Learning Visual F# 4.0 (Foundations) (Volume 1) Paperback – September 18, 2016
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About the Author
Chris Shattock started programming in 1975 - Fortran on an IBM Mainframe. Following degrees in Maths with Physics and Mathematical Biology and a period on travelling, he reverted to IBM Mainframe user support and application development in a local council and thereafter was employed by the UK IBM 370/390 Agent for a number of years. Experience grew to accommodate a wide variety of IBM Client heterogeneous client/server platforms and the development and support of their decision support systems thereon. Chris became an independent consultant in 1995 to lead the greenfield development of a multi-utility Management Information System using a Windows client and a number of heterogeneous server back-ends. Subsequently working in the US, Europe and South America on Microsoft based server and client platforms, Chris then took a career break to pursue his interests in Environmental Management and Ecology in East Africa. Currently residing in Spain as a carer he is also undertaking a part-time Masters in Environmental Sustainability.
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Volume 1 begins with a problem domain particularly ill-suited to F#: resource globalization with satellite assemblies. Not only does Visual Studio provide no templates for F# projects, but the feature depends on .NET runtime behavior that's unavailable in the F# interactive window (FSI). To find a practical way to do globalization in F#, the author takes you on a deep tour of Visual Studio, the .NET runtime, and the compensating strengths of the F# language. Whether you ever need to globalize an application or not, you'll emerge from this exercise a much stronger F# programmer.
The latter half of the Volume 1 tackles graphical UI programming, another area where Visual Studio has little to support F#, first with Windows Forms and then with WPF. Along the way there is detailed, practical instruction on XML processing, how to meld .NET IEnumerable with F#'s collection types, and how to use a number of open source tools. Volume 2 focuses on advanced quality assurance for F# programs, including instrumentation with Event Tracing and WMI.
The author assumes no knowledge of F#, but chooses to explain the each language feature as its need arises in the context of the problem being worked on. This "bottom up" approach may not appeal to everyone, but fortunately you can learn F# top-down from any of the other books. My current favorite is F# 4.0 Design Patterns
Considering the entire text runs over 1,500 pages (in two volumes solely for practicality of publishing), the good news is that the author writes readable, entertaining prose, organizes things clearly, and formats his layouts well. As to be expected in a self-published work, there are more typos and editorial slips than you'd get from a big tech publisher. But in return you get the author's personality and insights at full strength.
This book fills a niche that has (until now) not been adequately addressed.
I applaud the use of multiple volumes and hope this author will grace us with many more volumes to come.
The high point of this volume for me is the coverage of WPF and other .Net lore that typically only garners a footnote in other materials.
I may comment further after reading both volumes cover to cover.