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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Microsoft SQL Server(TM) 2000 Reporting Services Step by Step (Pro-Step by Step Developer)
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Authors: Hitachi Consulting, Stacia Misner
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Not for skilled developers

I looked through this book at a bookstore recently (no insult to Amazon, but I really like have my hands on a book to review it properly). The text is large, and so even though the book is big, one page does not contain much info. I knew I was going to be disappointed when I opened the book halfway and there was an introduction to using paramaterized queries. I needed a book that assumed that I already knew basic SQL, .NET progrmming, and SQL Server 2000, and was already familiar with the basic Microsoft products.

This was not quite it. It seems to be written for people with less hands-on experience developing reports, likely written for people who want to decide whether to use Reporting Services, and at a high-level, what RS is capable of. I needed something that could give me a quick understanding of the essentials, and then help me to start cranking out real solution.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography
Publisher: Anchor
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
A fascinating revue of the influence of codes on history.

This book almost reads like a murder mystery story. It combines historical data with the effect that codes have had upon the outcomes of wars,business, and life in general.Once you start reading it, it may be difficult to put down.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: A Software Engineering Approach to LabVIEW
Publisher: Prentice Hall PTR
Authors: Jon Conway
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
The missing link!

As a self-taught, 10-year veteran LabVIEW developer, reading this book was a huge eye-opener to all the things that you should be doing with a large project. I recently changed jobs to a company that practices RUP, and have been struggling to fit LabVIEW into this development framework. This is the crash-course in software engineering I should have taken in school, but didn't.

Some of the chapters cover topics in NI's courses and online documentation (front panel and block diagram styles, state machines, loose-coupling and strong-cohesion, GOOP). However the real jems in this book are:

1) how to put together software specifications for proposals, including strong focus on pre-coding tasks such as GUI prototyping for customers and post-coding tasks such as testing and metrics for customer acceptance. Much of the architecture of a project occurs at the proposal/specification stage and this book dedicates a whole chapter to it including an example specification;

2) a methodical approach to defining objects ("components" in the language of this book, but GOOP to the rest of us);

3) the concept of data flow designs to section up a larger project into smaller chunks you can get your mind around.

The examples are some of the best I have seen in print. The authors have not chosen overly-simplistic examples, nor have they chosen overly-abstract examples. There are plenty of screen shots and "software meat" to look at.

The other part of this book that I liked was the "Why LabVIEW Sucks" section, which addresses the "C++/C#/VB/.net/[insert other language here] is so much better than LabVIEW, why should I use LabVIEW" question every LabVIEW developer runs into eventually. Sure, they're preaching to the choir here, but they do acknowledge that LabVIEW has a fundamental image problem, explain why they think it has it, and why as an advanced developer you should understand that the problem is its image and not anything fundamentally wrong with LabVIEW.

This is not a book on the mechanics of programming LabVIEW. There are some programming techniques in here (state machines, GOOP), but you can get this for free from NI's website. It is written for the architect of the team (the person doing proposal writing, high-level design, interacting with the customer, etc.), not the code-jockeys actually writing the code.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Large-Scale C++ Software Design
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: John Lakos
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Getting straight to the point ..... Buy this book!

The only book I have come across which tells you how to engineer scalability, testability and maintainability into your OO design from the start of the development effort and not after the fact when it is too late. An essential reading for large OO systems developers and managers.