As an experienced developer I've never found it necessary to refer to a book on a development tool. I've always managed to find my own way around packages such as Visual Studio, and by sharing knowledge with peers I feel that this gives me a good understanding of the product. I was therefore a little sceptical of just what this book could actually offer to its target audience, the experienced programmer.
As with most O'Reilly books, this one is well written and communicates useful and accurate guidance to the reader. It is up-to-date, covering the Visual Studio .NET 2003 development environment. The book flows sensibly through the fundamentals, introducing the reader to Projects and Solutions, as well as the various forms of file editing capabilities that VS.NET provides. I found an early chapter on Debugging to be very good, including some useful tips and excellent coverage of the VS.NET debugger features. Various aspects of Web, Database and Setup/Deployment projects are adequately covered, although I noticed that Web Services are neglected.
The more advance topics featured in the book include component integration, automation/macros and wizards. The chapter on automation, macros and add-ins was my favourite because it introduced me to the VS.NET Automation Object Model for the first time. I found this to be very interesting, and would like to refer back to this chapter when I eventually find time to utilise these features. The VSIP (Visual Studio Integration Program) is covered at the end of the book, but only has a brief mention. I don't think this final topic is covered in enough detail for anyone to find it useful.
I have conflicting opinions of this book. I feel that it is good and does its job well, so if you really want a book on VS.NET then I would not hesitate in recommending this one. However, I've been developing with VS.NET throughout my two months company with this book, and have not found any need to refer to it at all. The basics of VS.NET Project, Solutions and Debugging are covered in many .NET related books at the moment, so chances are you'll only be interested in the more advanced topics. A good book, but one that I wouldn't rush out and pay£28.50 for.Java