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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Book Review: NHibernate in Action

Over a year ago I wrote about my NHibernate Lazy Loading Snafu and in that blog post it was pretty clear I was mostly clueless when it came to NHibernate.  Unfortunately, that hasn’t changed much in the past year, so I was incredibly eager to get my hands on the new Manning book, NHibernate in Action.  Believe me, it did not disappoint.

I’d argue that this book may be more appropriately naming something along the lines of “ORM in Action (with a focus on NHibernate)” because it is not only a bible for understanding and using NHibernate, but for ORM concepts in general!  The authors skillfully intertwine detailed and insightful discussion of general database, ORM, and enterprise development concepts with the nitty-gritty implementation details of NHibernate, all in an easy-to-read manner.  Beginning with a tour of many of the various ORM (and ORM-ish) solutions available to .NET developers and ending with a few chapters dedicated to discussing best practices of enterprise application development, this is a very well-rounded book that is easily digested by developers of pretty much any skill level.  I knew only high-level details about NHibernate and had a few mis-guided attempts at implementing it by myself prior to reading this book, but now I feel incredibly confident that I will be able to create plenty of NHibernate-driven applications with ease.  Another great benefit is the comfort I get from knowing that when I hit any more snafus in the future, it is obviously that this book will be there as a solid reference to help get me through.

The cons?  It'd be nice if the book discussed NHibernate 2 & .NET 3.x functionality (like LINQ-to-NHibernate), but I think those expectations are somewhat unrealistic. Because of its open source nature, NHibernate is a living organism with stark contrast to a published book. Due to this contrast, I am more interested in a text that can explain the fundamental concepts than an incredibly in-depth (and quickly obsolete!) explanation of the technical implementation of those concepts.

When it comes down to it, this is a great book that delivers on its promises and provides a comprehensive look at NHibernate in Action and how you can get it working for you.  I’m just gonna come right out and say it – this is the NHibernate Bible.


Tobin Harris said...

Hi Jess

Thanks very much for the review - it's always pleasing when someone gets value from the book.

Agree that coverage of NHibernate 2.x would have been a bonus. That will happen in the next edition (and coverage of 3.x too).

Your review summed up exactly what I hoped developers would get from the book - the understanding of ORM, and why NHibernate is the way it is. And more importantly, having confidence to build great NHibernate applications!

Thanks again

Tobin Harris

Kyle Pena said...

Just placed an order for this book... I'm trying to evaluate different ORMs and I think this might be a good starting point