As I’m starting to ramp up on WCF (Windows Communication Foundation, formerly code-named Indigo), I was thinking it might be an interesting idea to post some of the interesting artifacts I find along the way. It might be useful for others to see the path I’ve taken, the ways in which I’ve explored various facets of the technology, and some of the side-trips I’ve made along the way.
I guess the most intriguing thing about learning any new technology, especially one as broad and deep as WCF, is how you go about the task. Where do you start? What kinds of tools and techniques do you use? What sorts of questions do you ask? What books, articles, blogs and other resources are available?
The first thing I usually do is pick up a good book on the topic. Trouble is, there are so many WCF books coming out, it’s hard to choose which one to go with. I don’t want something too basic, and in general I want something that goes deep under the covers to show me how things work behind pretty API. The best thing would be for Don Box to write “Essential .Net Volume 2,” covering Windows Communication Foundation (I believe he’s toyed with the idea). I’ve waded through Juval Lowy’s 600 page tome and am fairly satisfied with his approach, although he probably could spend a few more pages covering the internal machinations of WCF. There are a few others out there: Michele’s Learning WCF (out in Rough Cut format), WCF Pro from Apress, and WCF Unleashed. If I were back in the States, I would sit in a Barnes and Noble and leaf through each of them, all while sipping a cafÃ© latte. But while living overseas, my only alternative seems to be buying the online version of each one. While the cost is lower, I’m hesitant to plunk down money if the book turns out to be lame. Justin Smith’s Inside WCF looks intriguing but won’t come out until May (and MS Press doesn’t pre-release the rough version).
Aside from reading books, I’ll also scour the net for handy articles. I’ve found a few MSDN articles that lay out some of the background and cover the basic (most, however, are kind of outdated). As I find more, I’ll post them on my delicious web site. In addition, there are quite a few blogs out there, which I also list on delicious. So far, however, I like Nicholas Allen, Justin Smith, Govind, and KennyW.
Next comes the videos and web casts. Often I find some good presentations on channel 9. You should also bookmark the MSDN WCF Home Page, which lists webcasts and the like, as well as the WCF Community Center.
Last, but certainly not least, is rolling up your virtual sleeves and getting your hands dirty. That means code, code and more code. It’s the only way to be sure of what you know (don’t take anyone else’s word for it). It’s also a great way to learn, because information is transmitted from your fingertips on up to your brain (sort of like “information at your fingertips” in reverse). As I experiment with different features and discover new things, I’ll be sure to post my findings here. See you on the superhighway.