VSTO & .NET & Excel

November 1, 2006

.NET Books

Filed under: .NET Books — Dennis M Wallentin @ 8:42 pm

Internet is for many individuals their number #1 source when it comes to information of all kind. It’s usually an inexpensive and a fast way to get wanted information and if not found then there exist a great number of Q&A forums.

Despite the easy access via Internet I still prefer to read printed books, especially when it’s about new areas of interest. For me the main advantages for using printed books are:

  • They usually give more input on ‘why and when’ then just ‘how’ which is important to get a better understanding from a broader perspective.
  • They have been reviewed both from a technical point of view as well as from a general view. Most publishers have an errata page for each book which is regular updated  and the code used in the book is available for download.
  • I can bring the books with me where ever I want as they  are available without the demand of a computer.
  • They allow me to make marks and comments whenever I want to do it.
  • They have become less expensive for the last years (at least in Sweden).
  • They can be sold in second hand.

When it comes to publishers within the field of programming I prefer the following:

  • Addison Wesley 
  • APress
  • Wiley 
  • Wrox

For me these publishers stands for high quality and offer many times books that are above the average level and also avoid ‘gracefully’ to try to cover ‘every aspects’ on the subjects.

Visual Basic.NET

Professional VB 2005 
Authors: Bill Ejven et al 
Publisher: Wrox
Pages: 1015
ISBN: 0-7645-7536-8
Target audience: Experienced classic VB/VBA developers

The book introduces the readers to .NET Framework, VB.NET, Security and Error handling, ADO.NET and ASP.NET. This book is good although it cover, in my opinion, to wide number of areas. I prefer books where the author(s) focus on few areas in order to get a deep on the subjects.

Pro VB 2005 and the .NET 2.0 Platform
Author: Andrew Troelsen
Publisher: Apress
Pages: 990
ISBN: 1-59059-578-5

Ever since I read Andrew Troelsen’s book ‘COM and .NET Interoperability’ I like his writing style and this one does not get me disappointed. Like the above book from Wrox it tends to cover too many areas but not as much as the one above.

If You consider which book to choose between these two books then I strongly recommend to select this book. Especially as it cover in one chapter (in an understandable way) COM and .NET Interoperability.

Pro .NET 2.0 Windows Forms and Custom Controls in VB 2005
Author: Matthew MacDonald
Publisher: Apress
Pages: 961
ISBN 1-59059-694-3
Target audience: Intermediate – Advanced

In many ways this is an excellent book on the subject and offer also two very good appendix about ‘Creating Usable Interface’ and ‘ClickOnce’.  It’s well written and very clear on many things and for me it’s the book that encourages me to really explore things with Windows Forms.

So if You believe You’re part of the main target audience then this book should be considered as a ‘must’.

Object-Oriented Programmning (OOP)

During all the years I’ve been around it has always been ‘hype’ around OOP and to the fact that classic VB/VBA don’t support Inheritance and Polymorphism. Despite the lack of it I can only conclude that many solutions created with classic VB/VBA works excellent and continue will do it.  The point here is that You don’t need to feel that it’s a must to learn everything about OOP in order to create workable solutions with VB.NET.

If You really want to learn OOP then I strongly suggest that You check out the following two books on the subject:

Visual Basic.NET Class Design Handbook (Coding effective Classes)
Authors: Damon Allison, Andy Olsen and James Speer
Publisher: Apress
Pages: 352
ISBN: 1-59059-275-1 
Target audience: Intermediate – Advanced

In my opinion this is The Book on the subject. They manage to ‘isolate’ the book to only deal with OOP which I highly appreciate, i e one book cover a specific area only. If You’re concerned on the topic then this book is highly recommended.

An Introduction to Object-Oriented Programming with Visual Basic.NET
Author: Dan Clark
Publisher: Apress
Pages: 396
ISBN: 1-59059-015-5
Target audience: Beginner – Intermediate

Clark’s book introduces the readers to the Unified Modeling Language (UML). In my opinion this can be an advantage as it offer a platform to learn OOP in a more structural and in a logic way.

What may be an annoying aspect to consider when it comes to buying book is that MSFT has a extremely high pace of new releases of .NET Framework and VB.NET. However, books can always be useful although they are not ‘state of the art’. 

What’s Your opinion about books and do You have any good books to recommend for the .NET – world?

In an upcoming blogpost I will present some books that explicit target Visual Studio Tools for the Office System (VSTO) and Add-ins. 

Kind regards,


  1. Hi Dennis
    I’m a big book fan, some of my favorite books are here:
    (there are some .net/office ones part way down – C# though)

    Code Complete is probably my favourite computing book.

    A colleague once said if he found one useful thing in a book it was worth the price, and I tend to agree, so I have loads of part read books.

    I find books useful early on, and sometimes later for reference, but once I know a bit about a topic, I tend to use the internet more.


    Comment by Simon Murphy — November 2, 2006 @ 12:09 am

  2. Simon,

    Good to know that there are other people who also like books very much 😉

    I can to some extend agree that if we find one useful thing in a book it brings value to us. But over the years I’ve been more and more concerned which type of books I prefer to read.

    Later I will present some favourite more general books and You will not be surprised.

    Anyway, does any know of a book that explicit target .NET & Excel?

    Kind regards,

    Comment by Dennis Wallentin — November 2, 2006 @ 11:00 am

  3. Hi,

    Yep, I also prefer to learn from dead trees 😉

    I tend to read the book cover to cover on purchase. Admittedly this can be quite heavy going as technical topics tend to be quite dry.
    Then I use them for reference, dipping back into them as and when a particular problem arises.

    Comment by Andy Pope — November 2, 2006 @ 11:04 am

  4. Hello,

    Andy, I saw your list a few weeks ago its a new page on your site i think, – maybe if you get time you could add a little reviwe to the books, I find this useful –

    Nice list you have here Dennis, and Simon too. I find it much more useful to read what people I “know” have to say about books, then I can kind of gauge their meaning. If Iread on amazon somone says “…for advanced user only…” it hard to know what they mean by advanced user and so on

    Dick has one too, but agian no reviwes – I think you need to have a comment on the book.

    I have been thinking about adding a books page to my site, I think I will now.

    Dennis maybe you should think about making this post in to a page?


    Comment by ross — November 2, 2006 @ 11:43 am

  5. Dennis
    I havent seen a specific .net Excel book. The MS approach seems to be lump everything together as ‘Office’.
    Andrew Whitechapels book and Carter and Lippert both have decent sections on Excel, but both are C#.
    Looking forward to hearing about the books you have found in the area.

    Comment by Simon Murphy — November 2, 2006 @ 2:48 pm

  6. Andy,

    ‘…tend to be quite dry.’

    I agree but since I read other kind of books where I expect to be ‘entertained’ it’s acceptable.

    Any particular reasons why O’Reilly is the #1 publisher in Your list?


    I raised the question because I upto to this date have not been able to track down any book…

    I find it both annoying and surprising that Word, Outlook and Excel are lumped together in the present available books.

    If MSFT really is concerned that the market start to use .NET together with these tools then they should publish good books for each of them. For me it’s a question of being trustworthy or not.

    More will be discussed on this topic later on 🙂

    Kind regards,

    Comment by Dennis Wallentin — November 2, 2006 @ 4:52 pm

  7. I’m lucky enough to be provided with preview copies. 🙂

    Comment by Andy Pope — November 2, 2006 @ 5:07 pm

  8. Ross,

    “Dennis maybe you should think about making this post in to a page?”

    At present I have a category named .NET Books which is available in the right column under ‘Categories’. In that way I can make additional blogposts on this topic without ‘paging’.

    I agree that comments (reviews) may be the best approach. But it also difficult to make judgement on books especially if we don’t can compare it with other books in the same area.

    The ranking of beginner, intermediate and advance users is also a roughly indication that may or may not be relevant.

    Best approach is to visit the publisher’s site and take part of the TOCs as well as any published chapters from the books.

    Kind regards,

    Comment by Dennis Wallentin — November 2, 2006 @ 5:17 pm

  9. Andy,

    I guess You have, in one or another way, deserved it so it’s not only luck 😉

    For some years ago I regular received books as I then made reviews, especially technical reviewing. At that time I didn’t realize what an advantage it was to get free copies not until I was forced to start to pay for them.

    On the other hand, technical reviewing may look attractive but in the end it’s just about hard work with tough deadlines to meet.

    Kind regards,

    Comment by Dennis Wallentin — November 2, 2006 @ 5:26 pm

  10. Hi Ross, my intention is to add reviews as and when I get a chance.

    Comment by Andy Pope — November 2, 2006 @ 6:09 pm

  11. Nice lists… I wish I had time to read all of them!

    For VB.NET, I think that nobody does a better job than Francesoc Balena. I have his first VB.NET 2003 book, at more than 1500 pages, and each page is superbe. I don’t have his 2005 version, but I’m sure it’s excellent:


    It’s smaller at “only” 990 pages, but I have no doubt that it’s outstanding. I hope to buy it one of these days…


    Comment by Mike Rosenblum — November 2, 2006 @ 10:24 pm

  12. Mike,

    I still got (somewhere) Balena’s book on VB 6.0 and I borrowed his first book .NET 2003 from a local friend. However, it was too heavy to carry around for me…

    Do You know if the 2005 version is a paperback?

    Kind regards,

    Comment by Dennis Wallentin — November 2, 2006 @ 10:40 pm

  13. Yes, I had the same exact problem! I very seriously considered cutting up the book in to chapters. It would have destroyed the book, but I would have been able to carry a chapter or two with me when I was on the road… I never did it though, because I just didn’t have the heart to cut it up…

    The link above for Amazon states that the 2005 version is indeed a “paperback”, but at 990 pages, this is not a small book either!

    Oh, and I almost forgot, there’s a free eBook from MSDN on VB.NET 2005:


    It’s not a great book, it’s sort of a ‘Walk-through’ or ‘How To’ style, but for free it’s a great place for many to start.

    In general, I point a lot of VB.NET beginners to the links I have listed here:



    Comment by Mike Rosenblum — November 2, 2006 @ 11:53 pm

  14. “I raised the question because I upto to this date have not been able to track down any book…”

    “I havent seen a specific .net Excel book. The MS approach seems to be lump everything together as ‘Office’.”

    Well, you all have Word? You all know a bit about Excel?… Maybe, why not – looks like there might be a market? — only a suggestion? 😉

    I hear what people are saying, take Programming Excel with VBA and .NET
    , its got .Net in the title, but its got one chapter on .Net!

    I also now the frustration of having to read 1000 pages, that’s a bit of a thing in the IT world, why say somthing in 20 words when you can take 400! – not like my days at uni!

    …as the song goes ” time is my enemy [NME?]” !!!!

    Comment by ross — November 3, 2006 @ 2:11 am

  15. Ross
    I’ll do a chapter if you will, and some of the others will, Dennis?


    Comment by Simon Murphy — November 3, 2006 @ 12:08 pm

  16. Yes, I’m in 🙂

    Let us know what it is You want to see.

    Perhaps Mike R would be interested too?

    Kind regards,

    Comment by Dennis Wallentin — November 3, 2006 @ 12:42 pm

  17. You’ll all have at least one reader 🙂

    Comment by Will Riley — November 3, 2006 @ 2:39 pm

  18. I’m burried at the moment… I would not be able to contribute. 😦

    Interested, yes, but I just can’t right now, sorry. I would help where I can, but I can’t do much currently.

    A very good idea though…

    Comment by Mike Rosenblum — November 3, 2006 @ 6:43 pm

  19. Mike – No sorries as I’m pleased that You have time to stop by 🙂
    Let us see what we can come up with.

    Will – Good to know as it’s always difficult to know if anyone will read the stuff or not 😉

    Kind regards,

    Comment by Dennis Wallentin — November 4, 2006 @ 6:21 pm

  20. Make that two readers. 😉

    Comment by Ken Puls — November 5, 2006 @ 2:06 am

  21. 2 chapters, 2 readers – hmmm
    (probably better than some of the books out there!)

    What about: Excel and .net for Excel VBA devs.

    BTW I heard that .net 3.0 (which technically is framework 2.0 plus some other stuff) will be part of Vista so anything written in VS2005 against 2.0 wont need a framework install.


    Comment by Simon Murphy — November 6, 2006 @ 11:53 pm

  22. Hi,

    Busy until Friday, at which point I will sketch out an out line a send it to you guys, along with some other thoughts, this might open up the channels of commutation and we can think about weather it’s a goer or not.
    One thing that struck me is that Dennis has virtually written one sections already with his managed com add in articles.
    Anyway if this is an ok way to proceed for now I will do it on Friday.


    Comment by Ross — November 7, 2006 @ 11:26 am

  23. Hi,

    Good books on .net for developing Accounting packages(windows and web) by vkpublishers.


    Comment by Madhav — December 11, 2006 @ 6:52 am

  24. Hi madhav,

    I was not aware of this publisher before Your comment here. For those who is interested the following link is a starting point:


    Kind regards,

    Comment by Dennis Wallentin — December 11, 2006 @ 11:02 am

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