ASP.NET for Developers
First, let me say that ASP.NET for Developers was co-authored by Michael Amundsen and Paul Litwin, who's the editor and the technical director at asp.netPRO. However, I have written this review as objectively as all other book reviews I've written in the past.
ASP.NET for Developers is precisely what the title states - a book for developers. The book makes three primary assertions:
1) You have developed ASP-driven Web pages in the past.
2) Visual Basic .NET is your .NET Framework language of choice.
3) You want your reference titles to cut to the chase. The book presents the lean essentials of what is necessary to accomplish a programming task.
The book is essentially a CliffsNotes version of thicker - and consequently more expensive - ASP.NET tomes. ASP.NET for Developers offers no tutorials and no dissertations - just the facts.
The book begins with a quick overview of the .NET architecture and how ASP.NET works within the framework. Part II then provides a digest of the VB .NET fully object-oriented language, particularly as it applies to the changes made from the previous object-based versions of Visual Basic. The remainder of the book is dedicated to ASP.NET topics. This includes a portion on developing ASP.NET Web forms by using server and user controls; 80 pages about ADO .NET; 39 pages about Web Services; and the balance of the book, which is about configuring and deploying ASP.NET solutions. A succinct appendix concludes the book with a comparison of VB .NET vs. VB6 and VBScript, featuring syntax changes.
The book doesn't include any explanation of how to build a complete Web site using ASP.NET, nor does it include any lengthy code tutorials. That's a conscious decision on the part of the authors. I don't mean to imply the book is devoid of code. On the contrary, nearly half of the book's real estate is reserved for snippets of code. These packets of code, which also are available for download from the book's Web site, are like the prose of the book: matter of fact and to the point. No space is wasted on redundant or extraneous routines.
Of course, this terse approach may bore some readers. It is also obvious that the book publisher is providing its interpretation of the "In a Nutshell" type of book published by competing publishers. If you prefer extensive commentary or already own ASP.NET nutshell-style titles, ASP.NET for Developers probably will not suit you. Additionally, certain sections of the book may have been cut too close to the bare minimum. It is apparent that the authors opted to keep things moving along rather than get hung up or give preferential treatment to one topic vs. another. But the authors still should have granted more space to new concepts, especially in the area of XML Web Services. Perhaps as a result of this shortcoming, SAMS publishes a book entirely dedicated to the subject of XML Web Services. Finally, additional comparative appendixes on ASP vs. ASP.NET and on ADO vs. ADO .NET would have been welcome enhancements to round out the book's referential approach more comprehensively.
These criticisms are minor, though. The book delivers what the authors intend it to deliver. It will serve as an inquiry-generating reference to other ASP.NET books that will impart deeper analysis of the segments this book presents. As a result, this is the type of book that will have its pages tattered and earmarked over time, which is often indicative of a book that has served its readers well.
- Mike Riley
ASP.NET for Developers by Michael Amundsen and Paul Litwin, SAMS Publishing, http://www.samspublishing.com.
Cover Price: US$34.99