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Book Review: Essential Windows Phone 8 Second Edition
Part of the Microsoft Windows Development Series

I think this book is a perfect place to start for those new to the Windows Phone 8 application development. The author covers a wide variety of topics at a level deep enough that you understand the topic and its context.

A majority of my experience on Microsoft devices was with embedded C++ to develop Windows CE / Pocket PC and Tablet PC. That was years ago. Last year I built some proof of concepts with Windows Phone 7.5 which broke the ice for me moving to the Microsoft Windows Phone 8 platform.

The author does a good job of introducing a lot of topics you need to understand in the first two chapters of the book and then starts drilling deeper into those topics and more throughout the rest of the book.

In the first two chapters the author introduces phone specifications, designing for touch, hardware buttons, keyboards, sensors, application lifecycle, live tiles, preparing your machine for development, creating a new project, Visual Studio, Xaml, designing with Blend, working with events, debugging in the emulator, debugging with a device, and using touch.

Below are the chapters found in the book.

1. Introducing Windows Phone
2. Writing Your First Phone Application
3. XAML Overview
4. Controls
5. Designing for the Phone
6. Developing for the Phone
7. Phone Hardware
8. Phone Integration
9. Databases and Storage
10. Multitasking
11. Services
12. Making Money
13. Enterprise Phone Apps

My favorite chapters where Designing for the Phone and Developing for the Phone. They include coverage of the third screen, deciding on an application paradigm, Microsoft Expression Blend basics, phone-specific design, previewing applications, designing with visual studio, implementing the look and feel of the phone, application lifecycle, the phone experience, and localizing your phone application.

My biggest gripe about the book is that some of the source code that accompanies it is pretty much worthless. A few of the projects match the books examples, but for the most part it is too aggravating to try to use.

That said, the examples in the book are still good, but just mostly snippets. If you understand the context in which they are used, you will have no problems understanding what the author is describing.

Another the thing I like about this book is that it is the first that actually builds an example using SQL Server Compact Edition. I know Windows RT doesn't support SQL CE for some unknown reason, so authors of Windows 8 Store app books just tell you SQLite exists, but do not provide an example of how to use it. It baffles me as to Microsoft's reasoning on this topic.

There are a wide range of topics covered in this book and the author goes deep enough to give you the knowledge you need to understand it and where it fits into the Windows Phone 8 world.

The author's writing style makes this book an easy read. He is clear and concise. The book does not contain filler content.

Over all I highly recommend this book to those getting started with Windows Phone 8.

Essential Windows Phone 8 (2nd Edition)

About Tad Anderson
Tad Anderson has been doing Software Architecture for 18 years and Enterprise Architecture for the past few.

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