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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
Publisher: New Riders Press
Authors: Steve Krug
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Excellent Introduction to Web Usability


If there's a book to use when introducing someone to the ideas of usability on the Web, I'd have to say that I think this is it. Not Nielsen, and not Cooper (at least not to start with). Steve Krug's "Don't Make Me Think" has the most no-nonsense and easy-to-follow approach I think I've ever seen, and best of all, he makes SENSE. First of all, Krug deconstructs some of the sites we all know and use often, and he does so to help us see what we should be doing, as well as what we should not. I remember being especially impressed with his in-depth analysis of Amazon.com's navigation scheme (Chapter 6 - "Street Signs and Breadcrumbs"), from the use of tabs to the structure of the sub-navigation to color changes, he covers it all with a sense of humor, clear pictorial examples, a sharp eye for detail, and a clear concise explanation of what works and why. The reader is left with a greater understanding of not only why Amazon has been so successful, but also what choices they made that helped them find this solution. The chapter on usability testing (Chapter 9 - "Usability Testing on 10 cents a day") was another fine example of clear communication and great ideas. Krug's breakdown of how the usability process should be conducted, and why it's needed in the first place, is concise and not preachy, as some usability authors are, and it really gives the reader an excellent idea of how they can fit usability into their process. This is probably the best way to "sell" usability to someone, and he does a great job of it. The whole book is like that, really, but those chapters were highlights in the book for me. His ideas on simplicity of presentation and home page design were also well-taken, both as a designer and as someone who uses the web. Perhaps that is what makes his book so excellent, is that really, anyone could get something out of it. Whether it's the person who surfs the web now and again or the one who designs the pages for it or the one who's paying for the person to design pages for it, anyone could read this book and benefit from it, without having to wade through piles of needless verbage or proselytizing. In the end, "Don't Make Me Think" seems to be an example of what it advises... it keeps things simple and accessible for a wide variety of people, and thereby makes itself useful as an excellent resource. The next time someone asks me what Web usability is all about, this is the first book I'll be recommending to them.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Programming ASP.NET, 2nd Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Jesse Liberty, Dan Hurwitz
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Best Book Yet


I loved Liberty's C# tutorial, but this introduction to ASP.NET is even better.
This book teaches every aspect of building ASP.NET applications, with detailed analysis of the various controls and good depth of coverage on advanced topics such as data binding and interacting with SQL Server.
Yes, this book IS good for beginners (I didn't really know ASP before I read this book) but it is also good for intermediate programmers because it goes way beyond the basics.
The first part is introductory and thorough, but the second part (beginning about chapter 14) gets into the nitty gritty of creating custom controls, creating and using web services and then goes on to provide important infomration about security, performance and deployment.
I can't think of a better primer on ASP.NET and I recommend it highly.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Programming C#, 4th Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Jesse Liberty
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Great overview of C# for experienced programmers


If you have programming experience in C++ or Java this book will get you up to speed on the new features of Microsoft's new language. It also lists "pitfalls" that point out differences of C# compared to C++ that could cause problems for us C++ programmers. This is great because some of these differences are pretty subtle.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Firebird Book: A Reference for Database Developers
Publisher: Apress
Authors: Helen Borrie
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
keep your productivity if you migrate


In the field of open source, there are only a few major relational databases - MySQL, Postgres and Firebird. MySQL has been garnering prominent wins recently, whereas Firebird has been steadily chugging along with relatively little publicity. But the book shows that if you are considering a free database, you should seriously look at Firebird. The book describes a very highly fleshed out database, that supports much standard SQL querying. Plus Firebird has had stored procedures and foreign keys for some time. The book goes into detail on these. Whereas MySQL has only its latest version incorporating them. Not as mature as Firebird's.

The core of the book is its Part 5, with several chapters talking about Firebird's SQL variant. The good news is that you should recognise much of it already. Much of your previous SQL experience should carry over to Firebird. Preserves your productivity if you migrate.