REVIEW - Windows Forms in Action - Second Edition of Windows Forms Programming with C#


Windows Forms in Action

Second Edition of Windows Forms Programming with C#


Erik Brown



Manning Publications Company (2006)




Simon Sebright


August 2007



with reservations

This book aims to get you up to speed with WinForms 2.0 using C#. It takes you through most of the usual things you need to worry about - menus and other tool strips, common dialogs, custom dialogs, controls (buttons, text, etc.), calendars, progress controls, "bells and whistles", custom controls, explorer views, MDI, data binding, and odds and ends (printing, drag and drop, web browsing, settings, deployment).

Throughout the book, he focusses on one central application, a photo-album editing suite, although he does occasionally uses other examples where this application is not suitable to demonstrate something. Generally, this works well, and I even thought of creating such an app myself (I wasn't convinced by some of his code design!) based on this work. Sometimes it grated a little though, and in comparison with another windows forms book I have recently read, it has pros and cons.

One thing I really liked was the fact that the example code was not riddled with stupid comments such as

// Create a widget
Widget w = new Widget();
We can well do without that style, and this book uses a format of describing the code in the book with a two-column table, which works well.

I didn't try to download and compile any of the code, but generally, I saw very few mistakes in the printed version. Some of the techniques he uses (returning early if parameters are null, for example) are not my thing, but it generally made sense.

I thought the coverage of databinding was rather weak, a case where limiting things to the application under development didn't work that well.

But, most topics were covered with what appeared to be a good command of the subject. I had recently read another good book on this subject, and was pleasantly surprised to read new things here, and also sometimes better explanations of concepts.

Overall - recommended with reservations. Those reservations are that certain subjects are dealt with rather lightly, for example, data binding, printing, deployment. But, these are major topics in themselves, and no book on WinForms can cover everything in detail. The concepts are here. Finally, the index is pretty comprehensive.

Book cover image courtesy of Open Library.

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