Beginning ASP.NET 4 in C# 2010

Author: Matthew MacDonald
Publisher: Apress, 2010
Pages: 1016
ISBN: 978-1430226086
Aimed at: All ASP.NET programmers
Rating: 5
Pros: Comprehensive, up-to-date and well explained
Cons: Heavy
Reviewed by: Ian Elliot, January 2011

 

During 2011 we've published over 250 book reviews. To round of the year we're reposting some of the best, starting with a book on ASP.NET that was both popular and highly recommended.

 

Author: Matthew MacDonald
Publisher: Apress, 2010
Pages: 1016
ISBN: 978-1430226086
Aimed at: All ASP.NET programmers
Rating: 5
Pros: Comprehensive, up-to-date and well explained
Cons: Heavy
Reviewed by: Ian Elliot

Classic ASP.NET is far from dead, despite the rumours put around by the ASP.NET MVC crowd! This thick  1000+ page book covers just about everything you need to know about ASP.NET in an up-to-date and modern style but without deviating into fashionable territory such as Silverlight or MVC.

 

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It starts off with a look at the way the web application evolved and for once this is justified because you can't really understand why ASP.NET works in the way that it does unless you know how it all happened and what the alternatives are. Chapters 2 and 3 are an introduction to C# - brief and to the point. This introduction would be fairly useless to a complete beginner but does server to make sure you know what the modern C# 4 looks like. To work with ASP.NET or to get very much from this book you need to have a grounding in C# - you don't have to be an expert but you need to be able to read the code and understand what is going on.

Part 2 starts off with a look at how to use Visual Studio to create an ASP.NET application. At the end of chapter 4 you have written a basic ASP.NET web page but still don't really have much idea how deep and subtle the whole idea is. Your steady introduction to ASP.NET proper starts in Chapter 5 with a look at web forms and HTML controls. This is where we start to understand the way that the server side code, controls and events make the client side do what we expect. Chapter 6 continues on in this way by introducing the web controls and explains how to use them and how they are compiled into HTML and JavaScript.

From this point you should have mastered the general way that ASP.NET does things and the next few chapters are concerned with practicalities - error handling and state management,  It is all made to seem very reasonable and very simple. At the end of section 2 you should have a grasp of round trip event handling and the way that controls are created and manipulated i.e. the basic approach of ASP.NET.

Part 3 of the book aims to build on the basic ideas that part 2 put in place. It deals with what you might consider the extra pieces that are needed to make a fully working web site. Chapter 9 explains the validation controls and chapter 10 deals with the "rich" controls e.g. calendar. Chapter 11 explains how to make or own controls and use graphics. Then we have our first look at overall website organisation in Chapter 12 with styles, themes and master pages. And chapter 13 brings this section to a close with a look at the problems of navigation and here a little bit of the MVC approach is introduced via routing. For many ASP.NET users routing may be all the MVC needed to improve the structure of their site.

Part 4 of the book is all about working with data and as such covers fairly standard ground - ADO.NET and XML. Part 5 moves on to website security and includes how to manage site membership etc as well as general security considerations.

The final part of the book is titled reasonably but somewhat vaguely "Advanced ASP.NET". This is simply a collection of chapters on fairly unconnected topics that you can leave until you have mastered the basics. Chapter 22 is about component based programming and explains how you can create your own controls from scratch. Chapter 23 is about caching. Chapter 24 returns to database with a look at LINQ and the Entity framework. More mainstream ASP.NET is Chapter 25 which goes into how Ajax fits into ASP.NET. The final chapter is on deployment.

There isn't much bad to say about this book apart from the fairly obvious - it's heavy. ASP.NET is a big topic but it all seems so much simpler if you follow its philosophy as early as possible. This book does a good job of introducing the basics so that the more advanced ideas seem fairly natural and obvious when they are finally introduced. The explanations are good as are the examples and if you can't follow what is going on at any point in the book it is likely that you have missed a basic idea somewhere along the way.

If you want a book on classical ASP.NET to get you started and keep you company as you learn the more advanced ideas - this is it.  


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Pragmatic Guide to Subversion

Author: Mike Mason
Publisher: Pragmatic Bookshelf, 2010
Pages: 150
ISBN: 978-1934356616
Aimed at: Team developers
Rating: 3
Pros: Reference, suitable for beginners to Subversion
Cons: Lacks depth
Reviewed by: Alex Armstrong

A slim, task-based guide to the Subversion source control system.



jQuery and JavaScript Phrasebook

Author: Brad Dayley
Publisher: Addison-Wesley
Pages: 384
ISBN: 978-0321918963
Audience: Novice to intermediate JavaScript programmers
Rating: 4.5
Reviewer: Ian Elliot

Pocket books, or phrasebooks in this case, are something that provide a unique form of summary of a topic. Can you provide a pocket re [ ... ]


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