Over the past year or so I've beencreating a series of ASP.NET 2.0 tutorials for Microsoft that focus on working with data. These tutorials have been published on www.asp.net and on the MSDN website with the first batch published in June 2006. The Working with Data in ASP.NET 2.0tutorialswere modeled after the tutorial series started by Scott Guthrieand aimed to provide step-by-step instructions (with lots of screen shots) on how to perform common data-related patterns. I use the past tense here because, this past weekend, I wrapped up the final milestone for the data tutorials, turning in the final VB and C# versions of the 75th tutorial!!
At the time of this writing the most recent tutorials to be published were the Working with Binary Files tutorials (#54-#57). The upcoming tutorials examine:
- Caching (four tutorials)
- Data and the Site Map Provider (one tutorial)
- Working with Batched Data (looks at using transactions; four tutorials)
- Advanced Data Access Layer Scenarios (nine tutorials)
Writing these tutorials was very similar in process to writing a book. I'd wager that the average tutorial is about 10 printed pages in length, so the series is equivalent to authoring a 750 page book. It should come as no surprise, then, that I feel as spent as when sending off the final author review to a publisher. And, like after authoring a book, I am more than ready for a break from this time-intensive writing.
There are plenty of differences between writing a book and writing a book-length online tutorial series,of course. With a book you don't see a physical manifestation of the hard work until many months after the book has been written and reviewed. Online work, however, allows for incremental and quicker publication schedule, which.helps keep me motivated. And while well-publicized technical online material is more accessible and read by more people than a book, there's still something alluring about books... about being able to see a physical manifestation of your work in a bookstore. To see someone thumbing through your book. To hold it in your hands, to skim the table of contents, to turn to a random page and cast your mind back to the days youspent writing that chapter. These sensory delights are nice, but come at a cost, as writing computer trade books very often has a terrible ROI - see The Economics of Writing a Computer Trade Bookfor a more detailed breakdown of why writing computer trade books is not the way to riches.
Many thanks to those who helped review the tutorials or who have provided feedback or pointed out typos or other issues since their publication. One of the nice things about having an online book is that it is much easier to fix typos and update code, if necessary, so keep sending in corrections.