One may wonder how anyone could write a decent introductory book to Visual Studio and related programming, do it just over 400 pages with decent sized type and screenshots, and still cover a little bit of everything from Asp.Net to MVC to WPF. This book successfully manages that task quite well.
The first four chapters get you up to speed on finding your way around visual studio enough to get a project started. It also includes brief tutorial on programming in both Visual Basic and C#. If you have programmed in other languages, or you are just starting programming, this will give you just enough knowledge to get started inside Visual Studio.. It covers program structure, some language syntax, and how to best use the Visual Studio make programming tasks easier.
The next three chapters cover creating projects, debugging, and accessing data. While whole books can be written on these subjects, Joe manages to hit the useful high points. Since much time can be spend debugging, understanding the debugging tools is essential for developers new to Visual Studio. Many hours of debugging can be saved by using the built in tools. He explains breakpoints and the useful debugging windows, and give a great walkthrough of using these concepts to track down a bug in a program with bugs.
The next part covers web and windows applications using ASP.NET MVC, Silverlight, WPF, and web services.. Again, whole books are written on these subjects. This book works through just enough information to understand how to use each topic, and a sample program for each to illustrate the concept. I, knowing very little about MVC, built the example in the chapter, and found how easy it was to learn.
Finally, enhancing and extending Visual Studio 2010 is covered. Templates, snippets and macro are covered as well as project add-ins.
Overall, I found the book well written, organized, and easy to use. Topics are introduced in a logical order. It is best to read the first seven chapters, and then after that, the chapters you are interested in. If you are interested in web, you can skip the WPF chapter and vice versa. This book is a must have for the entry level developer with little or no experience with Visual Studio. If you are a career developer with little or no Visual Studio experience, this book is a great introduction.