Beginning ASP.NET 3.5 in VB 2008: From Novice to Professional
This book s subtitle, From Novice to Professional, is backed up with 875 pages of information, starting with a quick overview of the history of HTML and .NET, and ending with security and advanced ASP.NET topics like caching and AJAX. This book is an update of MacDonald s earlier book, Beginning ASP.NET 2.0 in VB 2005. Both editions are also available in C# versions. Matthew MacDonald is a polished author of several books, one of which, Pro WPF: Windows Presentation Foundation in .NET 3.0, received a 5-star review.
This book is divided into six parts, containing 25 chapters. Part I explains what .NET is, introduces the Visual Basic language, then covers object-oriented programming in VB. Part II (Chapter 4) starts with an introduction to Visual Studio by building and debugging a simple Web page. In Chapter 5, HTML is introduced while creating a Web page that does currency conversions. Chapter 6 introduces Web controls while creating greeting cards. Chapter 7 brings up the problem of maintaining state and solving the problem using view states, query strings, and custom cookies. Chapter 8 covers tracing and error handling and logging. Here the author goes into the details of exception handling, including using Visual Studio s help to check for which exceptions a function might throw, how to throw your own exceptions, logging exceptions to the windows viewer, and creating custom logging classes, error pages, and tracing. Part II ends with Chapter 9, covering the details of Web servers and installing Internet Information Services (IIS) version 6 and 7 on various operating systems including Server 2008 and Vista. It also covers deploying ASP.NET applications on IIS, including Web Farms and managing Web sites with IIS Manager.
The first half of Part III covers Web controls, with chapters on validation, rich controls like the Calendar, AdRotator, MultiView, and Wizard controls, and user controls such as custom drawing of graphics, user interfaces, and navigation (site maps, menus, and tree views). The second half of Part III covers styles, themes, and Web site navigation using site maps, tree views, and menus. One nice feature the author adds is a recipe written as a list of five rules for creating a site map.
Part IV (Working with Data) is a good example of why this book is subtitled From Novice to Professional. This section starts by showing how to install the express edition of SQL Server, then walks the reader through the basics of the SQL language before delving into ADO.NET proper. MacDonald discusses how databases relate to creating Web sites, and shows how to use data bound controls by building a Web application for editing database records. In another nice little nugget, MacDonald includes a detailed list of the stages a Web page with data bound controls goes through during its lifecycle. Having this laid out clearly is important, because understanding the lifecycle of a data bound page is crucial to creating quality data bound Web pages. MacDonald also goes into details about the grid controls, including GridView templates, formatting (including formatting specific values), validating edits, and using data fields as select buttons. The last chapter in Part IV covers working with data from text and XML files, including validation, schemas, and transforms. The biggest weakness in this book is the lack of information on LINQ, the new Microsoft technology for data access (although Apress has another good book by Joseph Rattz, Jr. on LINQ, Pro LINQ: Language Integrated Query in C# 2008, ISBN 978-1-59059-789-7).
Part V covers security, including Forms authentication and Web authentication, impersonation, role-based security, and SSL. It demonstrates using membership with the Login Control (one of the coolest new features when it was introduced in ASP.NET 2.0) using both SQL Express, and the full version of SQL Server. The section ends with a chapter on profiles and spends a lot of time going in depth on storing profiles using the SQLProfileProvider.
Part VI consists of three chapters. The first chapter covers component-based programming, including the advantages of components, data access components, error handling, and preserving properties and state. The next chapter goes into the details of caching, including client-side caching, query strings and query string parameters, custom and fragment caching, and using cache dependencies to make sure displayed information is up to date. The book closes with a chapter on ASP.NET AJAX, and like the other technologies discussed in this book, the author takes the reader from installing the ASP.NET AJAX Kit to designing full Web pages.
This is a great book for the beginner- to intermediate-level Web designer. At nearly 900 pages, it covers a lot of territory and is well worth the US$49.99 price. It is also available in a C# version.
Title: Beginning ASP.NET 3.5 in VB 2008: From Novice to Professional
Author: Matthew MacDonald
Page Count: 875