Review “MCTS Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-503): Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 Windows Communication Foundation (PRO-Certification)”

I like this series of books (SPTK – Self-Paced Training Kit) because the theory here is always ended with real world examples. And these examples shows how the product is used in the real situations, to solve the real problems. It is like the prioritization of the functionality.
In the WCF documentation on the MSDN there is no such prioritization, great list of the features is here and no clue where are the main features and where are the secondary, additional features.

In the SPTK books there are no place to all features, the goals of these books are different. There are only the main features and steps how they are used to get the real result. For example, the part about MessageContract. A lot of information are in the MSDN, but it is realy hard to understand what the purpose of the MessageContract is. The real world example is shown in this book, how to use the MessageContract to transmit the license key to the client. Short example gives us the understanding of this artifact.

I am working with Web-services more then 4 years, and last year mostly with WCF-services. I was using this book to review my knowledge to make it more systematic. I didn’t use this book to prepare for exam (See discussion about the certification exams here

I use every information source to *understand* what is going on inside the product, why these features were included in the product, what alternatives were and are. Why so? Knowledge does not stacked in my brain without answers to this questions. I could not study the product in the *button-by-button* style as monkey.
I have to know *why*.

Teaching techniques usually use the patterns how the product should not be used, the samples of the improper practice. Usually it is hard to teach proper techniques without list the improper practices. Sometimes one sample of the wrongdoing is worth dozens samples of well doing.

How does this series of books the SPTK is different from other books published by Microsoft?

* Here are only described the *main* product features. These features were selected by Microsoft itself and it works as a unofficial prioritizing. It is very important.

* Here we see the *real world* problems and ways to resolve them with help of the main product features.

* In these books are the concisely description (and sometimes the history) what was the source of these features.

* Here we could see the samples of the improper practice, how the product should not be used.


* This book is the Microsoft vision of what was the intend of the WCF, how the WCF should be used.

* The concise information about WCF is concentrated in the *Lessons*. The real world samples are placed near it. These samples are also concentrated on the main things.

* I very like the *Lesson Summary* parts. These lists are the lists of the *prime features* of the WCF.

* Sometimes the book gives us the method in the samples that are obsolete. Say, the generation of the classes from XSD with XSD.exe utility. Several generation of the Software Factory could make this and SvcUtil.exe so.
* Sometimes the description are not perfect. I have feeling that authors did not squeeze out the whole information from the BizTalk team 🙂 and this is not surprise me because of the huge WCF feature pool. (For instance, we are asked on page.66 to comment attribute the [XmlSerializerFormat…] and regenerate scheams again, then make sure these schemas are going to get big differences from the default schemas. All these exercises with regenerating are useless without detailed explanations.)

I know several good sources of the information about WCF for deep studying.
* Samples in .NET SDK
* The Book “Programming .NET Components”, 2nd Edition by Juval Lowy
* MSND forums (

– and this book is good addition to this list.

I mark this book with 5 stars.
It has flaws, but benefits of using it as a fast and reliable source to study WCF are great.

Best regards!