This was the second Pluralsight course that I watched, but not the second that I have reviewed. To be honest, it is quite a long one and I needed some time to digest all of it to really reach a conclusion about how I felt having completed it.
The first thing I want to say is that this time, I typed all the code in as he did, and I think that that helped enormously. I suppose it is a little like ‘buying into’ the course, in that you really do invest some time and effort. That’s the positive angle. An alternative view might be that maybe you spend more time being ‘busy’ when it would be better to think about the concepts. I haven’t quite worked out where I stand on this – perhaps I need to mix a bit of both? What is interesting though is that by following along, I needed to rewind quite a bit and that 4 hours and 41 minutes turned into 7 hours and 56 minutes!
Onto the course…that’s what this is about, isn’t it? 🙂
This video series is a whistlestop tour through a whole host of Microsoft technologies starting right from setting up your development environment, to basics on OOP, C#, databases, developing for the desktop then web and finally chomping your way through web services via WCF. That’s a long sentence and a seriously large amount of areas making the near 5 hour course not even seem long enough.
Overall, however, there are lots of things that I really liked about it:
- Jan-Erik clearly knows what he is talking about. He moves confidently through the areas he covers and obviously has a great depth of knowledge.
- He touches upon many topics, giving you a good taste of each. I particularly liked the WCF part; the way he explained it makes it seem quite manageable and it caused me to have a whole bunch of future project ideas.
- There is a strong sense that everything he did built on prior work. This is especially evident where he begins with simple classes to provide data before creating a database library which he then goes on to use in the other projects.
- I also picked up some good tips about how to use Visual Studio just from watching him type his code in.
There were some parts that could have worked better for me, though:
- He assumes that you have a full (Ultimate) version of Visual Studio installed. It might have been better if his course started with the idea that you have Express. That would definitely open it up to a wider audience.
- For a beginner’s course, I was surprised at the detail he went into when getting the development environment ready. For the SQL Server part, it was incredibly technical and it wasn’t obvious why he did the things he did. That wouldn’t matter if I was able to easily mimic what he had, but without his setup and needing to use a newer (free) version of SQL Server, it wasn’t easy.
- The next section was odd. He then began talking about what processors and pixels were! It just didn’t fit – as if he was aiming things at one audience one minute, and a completely different one next. I think this could have been dropped.
- Keeping up with the code is very, very hard. It doesn’t help that for some of his edits, he typed them in very quickly and then switched to a place near the beginning of the line, effectively masking what he had done. If I were a Plus member of Pluralsight, I could download the code (presumably) and that would be fine, but not everyone is. This isn’t really a criticism of his course – he may have assumed that the code would be available. I don’t know.
- The fact that he covered so much was both a strength and a weakness. It was a lot of ground to cover and I only had my bus pass.
All in all, I really did get to see a lot of great stuff and have a great deal of respect for his skills. However, the pitching of the course was like a sine wave, some parts could have done with more explanation and the fact that I had to work so hard to follow along with the code, let it down a little.
Helpful Tips For Those Who Do This Course
I had to work-around some of the things he showed and made a note of most of them below. Hopefully they will help you overcome some of the issues I had.
- Setting up SQL Server. I just couldn’t match the screens he had but had no problems installing the latest SQL Server 2014 Express. Just click on all the default options and you will be fine; I downloaded mine from here but go for the one with Advanced Services because you will need the Management Studio.
- When I created the table relationships in the Management Studio and then linked that into my VS project, the relationships seemed to be lost. This will make sense when you come to that part, if it doesn’t right now. I just recreated them in VS and that fixed it.
- The server instance he referred to was something like ./home. Ignore that and use USER-PC\SQLEXPRESS (assuming you have Express installed and the USER-PC part isn’t specific to how my machine is named – change it to yours, if necessary).
- He talks about logging into the SQL Server DBMS using the SA login. Firstly, he doesn’t tell you what the password for that is and my attempts at Googling it didn’t get me far. Also, at least for the Express version, there wasn’t an SA user. In short, don’t worry about it – just use standard windows user authentication; it won’t make any difference.
- There are some differences between the templates with 2013 Community and his 2013 Ultimate (e.g he adds a webform and gets an option for a master page – we have to separately choose it) so watch out for these.
- In the Web ASP.NET project, before adding the Object Data Source, clean and rebuild your solution for it to show up/work.
- When working with CSS, at least on Chrome, I wasn’t able to get the border: none to work. Instead, I used border: hidden and that worked.
Hope you found this useful.
Written by Stephen Moon
email: stephen at logicalmoon.com