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Book review: Windows Workflow Foundation 4.0 Cookbook


I have a good knowledge of SharePoint workflows, but in this case i’m working to an ASP.NET 4 project with a complex business logic so i decided to use workflows as in SharePoint.

In order to understand the differences between ASP.NET 4 and SharePoint workflows, i have read this book.

The 8 chapters are full of practical informations, only chapter 4 about the collections manipulation could be less verbose; but anyway the 70 recipes are good.

From the first pages i have learned interesting things, as the fact that WF 4.0 expressions can be written only in VB, no C# (could be in a future version).

The first chapter is full of examples about basics, for example how to initialize a Workflow with InArguments, use of InOut args,and so on; good the explanation of async workflows.

Appreciable the explanation about the testing a WF program with a unit test framework.

Every element of the workflow toolbox in Visual Studio is explained with useful examples as in chapter 2 for flow control activities,good the part about messaging and transactions in chapter 3.

The custom activities are explained in chapter 5, in chapter 6 there are the most important things as the SQL persistence store; i have verified that the samples are working with SQL Server 2012.

Chapter 7 is about the hosting of the workflow applications, and the very important part is about the hosting in IIS7 (well explained) because the hosting in ASP.NET ,WPF or Windows Forms is explained but not (correctly) recommended.

The last chapter (8) is about a very advanced argument: the construction of a custom IDE for authoring workflows for users that does not have Visual Studio, but needs to modify the workflows; is not common a customer with such requests, but anyway could be a interesting idea for some extreme customizations.

The book has some very minimal errors (for example in the ETW tracking part is not mentioned that the log in the event viewer must be enabled) but i was able to do almost all of the examples without problems.

There isn’t a complex practical example, the common problem in the examples is a simple addition of two numbers , but as a reference this book is very valuable.

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