Programming Windows Workflow Foundation Book Review

I just recently finished reading Programming Windows Workflow Foundation (Practical WF Techniques and Examples using XAML and C#) by K. Scott Allen and thought I would share my views on this very practical book.

I have been working with WF for quite a while and one of the hardest things about this technology is getting your hands around everything it can do. Scott has done a great job of walking you through the technology in a manner that enables you to not only grasp the concepts but also get some code up and running quickly. The progression of the book was well thought out getting you started on creating workflows [Chapter 2] and then progressing through sequential workflows [Chapter 3], base activities [Chapter 4], custom activities [Chapter 5], hosting workflows [Chapter 6], State Machine Workflows [Chapter 7], workflow communication [Chapter 8] and finally rules and conditions [Chapter 9]. The thing that I like about this approach is typically in most projects you will have a team of varying roles and skills and the book in my view caters to this by tackling WF development from the perspective of a workflow developer (Chapters 1,2,3,4,7,9) early on in the book and then moving to a host developer (Chapters 5,6,8) for the final half of the book. You will notice I grouped chapters 7 and 9 in with the first half of the book since I feel these topics are very workflow developer centric and the introduction to the local communication service in chapter 3 should give you enough information to tackle these topics earlier than they are presented.

This book is a fast paced book that is designed to get you up and running quickly but at the same time is not so huge that you can’t get through it quickly. It’s size (233 pages) limits what you can cover but I think Scott does a good job of presenting the topics in a detailed enough manner that you can then dive into the SDK if you need to go deeper and know what you are looking for when you do. The book has all of code online at Packt Publishing which makes it easy to follow along as you read the book. I would recommend this book to someone who is new to WF and needs a book that can quickly guide them through getting started with the technology.

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