Author: Bob German & Paul Stubbs
Publisher: Addison-Wesley, 2012
Aimed at: Developers creating custom SharePoint apps
Pros: Well written descriptions of how to develop for SharePoint and the possibilities it offers
Cons: The situation regarding Silverlight
Reviewed by: Kay Ewbank
Custom SharePoint apps in Silverlight - a good idea or one that's already too late?
SharePoint is a natural target for applications, because you can get to a customised solution so much faster by making use of all its features. It came late to the list of possibilities as an environment, though, because Microsoft only added a supported route for development in 2007, and it was hardly what you'd call sophisticated even then. SharePoint 2010 and Visual Studio 2010 together are where the developer story with SharePoint could start, because there was at last some features to encourage developers. Silverlight was also included in the 2010 VS release, and there's no denying that it fits well with SharePoint.
Whether you'd decide to base your business model on this combination is another matter. As we've reported recently, Silverlight has been dumped in Windows 8 and made legacy on its only niche survival ground - the Windows Phone. So can you seriously decide to write in Silverlight for SharePoint? Only you (or more likely, the company you're working with) can decide this is a good idea. It's still true that Silverlight provides a good way to develop custom web parts, and there's nothing at the moment that provides equivalent facilities for SharePoint web development, so if you're asked to develop a custom web part for SharePoint, you're pretty much stuck with Silverlight for the moment even though you know it's not going anywhere in the future.
Some of the material for the book started life as conference sessions at events such as TechEd and the Microsoft SharePoint Conference, and the authors have then extended and added more depth. The book is part of the Microsoft .NET Development Series.
The book is split into three parts - getting started, SharePoint and Silverlight development, and building solutions. Part One introduces the techniques for SharePoint and Silverlight for those developers who haven't worked in either environment, and the really useful material starts with Part Two. This section starts with developing Web parts, expression blend for use with XAML, data binding, and using the HTML bridge. The remaining chapters in Part Two look at different ways to access the SharePoint data - via the client object model, using WCF Data Services, and Web Services.
Part Three starts with a look at Windows Phone 7 SharePoint app development. There's a chapter on Silverlight navigation, and another looks at using Silverlight with SharePoint Online for cloud apps. The book ends with a chapter showing how to create a Silverlight Field control.