My background is as an advanced-level ToolBook developer. My knowledge of classic VB was slight, my experience with the VB .NET Release Candidate only superficial, and of the shipped version no more than a few weeks in! That placed me as someone with substantial expertise in the development of training solutions, but way back down on the learning curve of a potential transition from ToolBook to VB .NET.

In that context, what VBTrain.Net offers someone like me is nothing short of a gold mine. I have no hesitation in saying that Jeff has produced something of immense value to two sectors of the development community: those considering a migration from ToolBook to VB .NET and those from other backgrounds who wish to determine how VB .NET might be used for the development of training applications.

VBTrain.Net sets out in a clear and structured manner the key concepts of the new .NET Framework, its IDE, OOP, the language, and the uses of its controls. It then pushes forward by taking a close look at aspects of application functionality of specific relevance to CBT/WBT. All of this is managed with a wealth of examples and screenshots, many of which have corresponding downloadable files that the reader can work along with. This combination of general-to-specific, with hands-on examples, is the very best way of presenting such a complex subject.

VB .NET is arguably item one on the developer community's discussion list and a wide range of books on the subject is now available. Most of these adopt a similar structure to that which Jeff has followed, and from most of them you'll acquire a general-to-specific appreciation of how its different facets and features slot together. What you won't get from any of these - save from VBTrain.Net - is how this important new system can service the development of CBT/WBT. If that's what you want, this book is certainly for you.

That said, Jeff has clearly been working through his own reading list and the book's Reference section is particularly helpful in offering comments about each of the books mentioned. This sort of personalized bibliography is, sadly, not used enough in much of the available literature.

Amongst the ToolBook developer community, Jeff and his colleagues at Platte Canyon have established an enviable reputation as all-around training development professionals who possess a real enthusiasm for sharing their insights with others. That enthusiasm bubbles out from the pages of VBTrain.Net, particularly with respect to the more complex issues of integration with interactive media (such as Flash), managing database links (both for extracting curriculum assets and storing user responses), and creating question/response interactivity. Jeff addresses these (and many other) issues head-on in what is a detailed and wide-ranging assessment of VB .NET's exciting potential.



Rob Tomlinson

e-Learning Developer

Hachan, France


April 2002