After a three month hiatus, I am back to authoring the Toolbox column for MSDN Magainze. (Thanks to James Avery for authoring the column the last three months.) There has also been some changes to the content you'll find in Toolbox. When the column debuted in January 2006, it was designed to examine two to three indespensible developer tools and a book review. Specifically, it aimed to cover commercial tools designed by third-party vendors that weren't priced beyond levels that would require top-tier managerial approval to buy (in other words, it should not include products costing several thousands of dollars).
The focus of the column has shifted a bit. Instead of focusing exclusively on commercial ISV products, the column is more dedicated to examining community-created projects and open-source software. We are also launching a new section in the Toolbox column called Blogs of Note, where I share and review interesting and informative technology-focused blogs. The column still includes a commercial ISV software reviews and a book review.
The March issue of Toolbox includes coverage on:
- Scott Guthrie's Blog - Scott is one of the original creators of Microsoft's ASP.NET and, today, is the Vice President of the Microsoft Developer Division. His blog is a fountainhead of information on current and upcoming web technologies and tools.
- Extending Reflector with Add-Ins - a look at the popular disassembler and class viewer, Reflector, along with information about a variety of free, community-created Reflector Add-Ins.
In addition, I reviewed Lynn Beighley's book Head First SQL (O'Reilly). Here is a snippet from the review:
Most books that teach SQL do so with dry prose and focus on business and accounting scenarios. O'Reilly's Head First SQL by Lynn Beighley turns this approach on its head, and to great effect. The topics covered in Head First SQL are familiar: the fundamentals of the SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE, and DELETE queries; JOINs; subqueries; data normalization; data and relational integrity; and so on. But the unique presentation in Head First SQL makes it fun to learn and easy to remember.
Head First SQL shines in its ability to explain concepts in a way that makes even the most complicated scenarios seem like common sense. The chapter on JOINs is the most lucid and digestible description I've read yet. The same is true for the chapter on subqueries.
I hope you like the shift in focus of the Toolbox column. I invite any feedback, comments, or constructive criticism you may have about the column at firstname.lastname@example.org. Likewise, send me any suggestions for products, blogs, or books to review!
On a side note, it appears that the MSDN Magazine website has been retooled and many past links to my Toolbox columns are now broken. Boo. I've always been a firm believer that URLs are a public interface and therefore must remain in tact for the lifetime of the website (in theory, then, forever); it's frustrating that Microsoft doesn't share these same ideals.
As always, if you have any suggestions for products, blogs, or books to review for the Toolbox column, please send them to me at email@example.com