Author: Ashish Ghoda & Jeff Scanlon
Publisher: Apress, 2009
Aimed at: Not beginners, nor experts
Pros: A useful summary of Silverlight 3.0's features
Cons: Barely rises above the documentation
Reviewed by: David Conrad
I’m not sure what is accelerated about this approach to Silverlight. It’s a fairly standard account of getting started with Silverlight and it doesn’t really ever stray from the standard documentation or go very deep. It’s level of coverage might suit a Silverlight beginner who knows something about WPF and .NET in general but no attempt is made to make any connections with what you might already know.
It tends to present things without much explanation and even on the very rare occasion when it makes a recommendation for a particular way of doing something you are left wondering why. It is organised by task – creating a user interface, working with data, working with media, extending the user interface and so on. This has the advantage of allowing the reader to focus on a task but has the disadvantage of not allowing the authors to explain the technology and structure of the framework. So, for example, the authors don't make use of the fact that the entire graphics layer of Silverlight is based on WPF, which is based on DirectX, which would provide an alternative and sometimes more logical way of approaching the classes that you need to master.
Many of the examples are very long and serve little purpose. Similarly there are lots of tables that basically quote, without adding anything new, what you can find in the documentation. It is also clear that many parts of the book were prepared using the beta and many of the examples and descriptions of method calls etc. don’t work in the actual release of Silverlight 3.0. It also doesn’t really make much of some of the difficulties that the restrictions in Silverlight, compared to WPF say, create. Working with Silverlight is much more like finding your way through the road blocks of security and missing facilities than simply creating applications from scratch.
There are some parts of the book that rise up a little beyond the average – coverage of the dynamic language facilites, testing and debugging and deployment are useful summaries and at the very least alert you the fact the topics exist.
If you are looking for a book that covers the ground without being insightful or inspiring then you might want to add this to your collection – but for most of its 500 pages it barely rises above the documentation.