During my recent vacation, I read the final print version of Essential LINQ, by Charlie Calvert and Dinesh Kulkarni.
Normally, I try to answer the question, “Who should read this book?” That answer eluded me on this book, due to the thorough treatment Charlie and Dinesh give the subject. Essential LINQ is approachable by developers that have minimal experience with LINQ, and yet those developers that have been using LINQ since day one will learn something from this book.
Everyone will learn something from two chapters in this book. “The Essence of LINQ” describes the principles behind the LINQ libraries and language enhancements. By understanding the goals of LINQ, you’ll immediately gain insight that will make LINQ more approachable and more productive for you.
In chapter 16, toward the end of book, Charlie and Dinesh discuss some patterns you’ll run into while developing with LINQ. You’ll learn how to use LINQ to SQL entities as part of a large multi-tier application. You’ll learn how to improve performance in LINQ applications. You’ll learn how to separate concerns in LINQ based applicaitons. LINQ is too new to be considered complete in terms of ‘best practices’, and thankfully neither Charlie nor Dinesh approach this subject with that kind of arrogance. Instead, they offer their recommendations, and invite discussion on the subject.
Throughout the rest of the book, Charlie and Dinesh explain LINQ to Objects and LINQ to SQL from a usage standpoint, and from an internal design standpoint. In other chapters, LINQ to XML is discussed. The authors provide examples of transforming data between XML and relational storage models as well. In every section, they tie together those features with the concepts discussed in “The Essence of LINQ”. That continuity helps to reinforce your understanding of LINQ through its design concepts.
After reading this book, you’ll be able to leverage LINQ in all your regular coding tasks. You’ll have a much better understanding of how LINQ works, and when you’ll encounter subtle differences in how different LINQ providers may behave.
It seems you can’t discuss LINQ without at least wading into the controversy of LINQ to SQL vs. Entity Framework. This book wades there as well (It was finished about the time the first EF release was made). More time is spent on LINQ to SQL, as it is more approachable from an internal design perspective. However, the chapters that cover EF build on that knowledge to help you understand how the two database LINQ technologies are more complementary adversarial. In addition, they touch on when you should consider one over the other in your application.
This section is the least complete, but the most useful to look into the future of the LINQ universe. It’s too easy to view LINQ as LINQ to Objects, LINQ to SQL, and LINQ to XML, and nothing more. This chapter gives you a brief view some of the other providers people have created for other types of data stores. Looking at some of those providers (especially the IQToolkit) will give you a greater appreciation for how LINQ can be used with a wider variety of data sources than you ever imagined.
If you are interested in being more productive with LINQ, you should read this book. You’ll probably thumb through it again and again as you search for better ways to solve different problems.
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