Book Review: Building Solutions for SharePoint 2010

I’ve been working my way through Sahil Malik’s Microsoft SharePoint 2010: Building Solutions for SharePoint 2010 and I’m almost finished now.  Just a quick review for anyone working on ramping up on 2010 or considering this book.

First, this book is good. I would recommend it without question to developers who are working on the SharePoint platform. Sahil Malik covers many of the new features as well as goes over some of the basics in a practical, mostly easy to read manner; there’s practical advice in every chapter that you’ll want to highlight and tuck away in your brain.

However, it’s pretty apparent that the book was rushed (at least editorially) due to the large number of grammar mistakes, awkward sentences, terrible analogies (some of them a bit inappropriate in any textbook), and somewhat questionable structure of the content.

Again, Sahil does a good job of capturing a lot of the key changes in 2010 and gives good examples (chapter 5 being the most interesting to me, personally). If I were grading on content alone, the book would be closer to 5 stars. It’s the editing team at Apress that have let down Mr. Malik by not putting enough attention in properly structuring and organizing the content and not performing adequate proofreading. I feel that many of the concepts and ideas could have been organized a bit differently and more coherently to help the reader better link the concepts together and have a clearer path to ramping up. It may have helped if the book had a more focused target audience (Mr. Malik himself points out that the book is broad in nature).

That said, as I mentioned in the opening of the review, I would definitely recommend this for SharePoint developers who are transitioning or preparing to transition from 2007. Despite it’s flaws, it’s still worthy of the time and money that you’ll invest in it. I do wish that the author had gone into more detail regarding best practices and design patterns for developing solutions in SharePoint; this is an area that is sorely missing in terms of publications. Mr. Malik might have made the book even better by incorporating the different examples around a central solution or problem instead of the scattershot approach of one-off examples. In other words, his examples (in a book with “Building Solutions” in the title) would have been better served in the context of a more comprehensive, overarching example.

Update:  Finished the book.  A copy of the email I sent out to the folks in our practice:

Malik’s book is worth the time to work through.  I’d recommend it for all of the devs here.  It provides good coverage of the most important topics in 2010 and is very readable (suffering somewhat from poor editors at Apress and questionable organization of data).  Chapter 5 (client object model), 8 (ECM), 9 (BCS), 10 (Workflow), and 11 (BI) all demonstrate some of the core new features in 2010 and should be required reading for any dev. or architect.  Chapter 3 covers some of the core restrictions of the new sandboxed solutions model.  It’s an important new feature, but it’s equally important to understand the walls that are thrown up when using this model.

The book is generally light on code and, in most of the later chapters, covers how tasks can be accomplished from SharePoint Designer as well as from Visual Studio.  It doesn’t really go into development practices and things like building custom content type forms and so on.  It doesn’t cover building applications for the new services infrastructure.  Again, it’s light on code and should be readable by non-devs as well.

It’s short by tech book standards, so it is understandably lacking a bit in depth.  For example, some of the BI features in chapter 11 are really, really killer, but Malik doesn’t dive into the technical details (one example would be the new REST APIs for Excel Services which are supremely powerful, but Malik only gives a few examples without details for the API).  The BCS chapter (9) is also light and could have used much more meat since it covers the 80% scenario, but leaves a lot to be desired on the dirty work that would be required to build the 20% scenario.  On the other hand, the ECM chapter (8), while light like the other chapters, provides information that is important specific to life sciences (and maybe financials).

In summary, I recommend getting this book used and going through it front-to-back.  It’s not that long, but surfaces a lot of the important features that are new to 2010.

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4 Responses

  1. Brad Thurber says:

    Good review. One of the best books out at the moment on this subject. I don’t know if it was “rushed” as much as just not edited very well. They could have put more resources on it and it would have been fine. Pet peave of mine though is a typo on a code block. While not indicative of all of the code, on one line alone I found 2 typos! How is this even possible?

    • Charles Chen says:

      I didn’t really look for errors in the code, but I did find that many of the samples felt a bit incomplete. After finishing the book, I still believe that it has a lot of good info in terms of breadth, but definitely lacks in depth. It probably wouldn’t bother me as much if the book had been titled differently and not titled as a “solutions” book (I tend to expect something different when I read the word “solution” in a book title).

      Any suggestions for books with greater depth?

  2. Davis says:

    Hey Chuck,

    Thanks for posting your review. I agree this is a good book, but not the “flagship 2010” book that it’s billed to be. The content is adequate and covers things well, just not in depth enough. I’m almost finished with the sample chapters of the updated 2010 Pattison book (available from MSDN or the Critical Path Training site). I can’t wait for the whole book to come out, but the release date keeps getting pushed (Amazon now shows December 15th…). I’ve also started Professional SharePoint 2010 Development by Tom Rizzo and others, but it casts a wide net like the Malik book. It is encouraging to see how many 2010 books are already on the market, but I think the Pattison book, when it’s finally out, is going to be the gold standard.

  3. Randy says:

    Great review. Saw useful review for some more books @