Exploring ASP.NET 2.0 Using Visual C# 2005 Beta 2

An Effective Tool for Visual Learners



Exploring ASP.NET 2.0 Using Visual C# 2005 Beta 2

An Effective Tool for Visual Learners


By Mike Riley


If a picture is worth a thousand words, then 24 moving frames per second is equivalent to 1,440,000 words per minute. Although AppDev s Exploring ASP.NET 2.0 Using Visual C# 2005 Beta 2, presented on six CD-ROMs or a single DVD-ROM and featuring more than nine hours of video, doesn t quite extrapolate to billions of words using this poetic analogy, it nevertheless can be a more effective way of learning the new features of ASP.NET 2.0 for people who prefer to learn visually (a VB.NET 2005 version is also available in Exploring ASP.NET 2.0 Using Visual Basic 2005 Beta 2). Even for those who prefer the less expensive path of reading a book, the assurance of watching the expected behavior on screen is absorbed much faster than the printed word.


Ken Getz, a longtime and well-known developer and educator of Microsoft application development technologies, and Andy Baron and Mary Chipman introduce and guide viewers through six learning modules. The content in both Visual C# and Visual Basic editions are identical sans the specific code example programming sections and sample files that can be installed.


Module 1 provides an overall introduction to ASP.NET 2.0 features. Module 2 dives into the deeper facets of membership services, including demonstrations of the LoginStatus, LoginView, ChangePassword, PasswordRecovery, and CreateNewAccount controls. Module 3 features posting techniques ranging from standard, XMLHTTP, and cross-page postbacks. Validation controls and database binding techniques are also covered in this module. The fourth module discusses ASP.NET 2.0 s membership and profile capabilities. This module also covers the programmatic implementation of Web parts for additional portal personalization needs. Module 5 provides a detailed view of how to program Microsoft s new GridView control. This section also covers themes and skins and concludes with a demonstration of Master Pages. The series closes with Module 6, which covers Web site navigation via the new navigation controls, including demonstrations of SiteMapDataSource, Menu, SiteMapPath, and TreeView. Cache dependencies, profiles and result sets are also discussed and demonstrated.


The presentation interface, dubbed the AppDev Learning Engine (ALE), is clean and intuitive, but is also not without some problems (see Figure 1). First, ALE runs at a fixed 1024x768 resolution, which is annoying for laptops running a lower resolution or desktops running a higher setting. More bothersome is the fact that ALE fails to disable the Windows screen saver, forcing users to either jiggle the mouse every so often or toggle the screen saver before and after each viewing. Viewing controls can only be driven by the mouse, which I found aggravating since I ve become accustomed to using the Windows Media Player keyboard shortcuts. CTRL+P failed to pause/play and CTRL+SHIFT+G failed to play back at a faster speed, which is something I do when scrubbing over a lengthy video presentation searching for a particular item of interest. ALE also doesn t support bookmarks; this is a real disadvantage when trying to reference material for later playback. What s really disappointing is that all these features (and plenty more) were available in Microsoft s own CBT CD-ROMs that they marketed during the Visual Basic 4.0 days, at a time when the predominant Windows video format was AVI. At least the video playback quality has dramatically improved since those earlier days.


Figure 1: The AppDev Learning Engine (ALE) interface, running at a static 1024x768 resolution, is simple and intuitive to navigate.


The content on each CD-ROM takes up only a small amount of total space on each disc and the DVD-ROM version is questionable as the six modules can fit on a single CD-ROM. Regardless, the video quality is excellent and can be presented in full screen with minimal artifacts. As for the quality of the content, the presenter s accomplished oratory skills are polished and they are quite enthusiastic about the subject matter; perhaps even a bit too enthusiastic at least during the face-shot introductions (see Figure 2). Smile, you re on camera. Smile bigger, you re talking about .NET. Smile! At least the presenters seem more natural when they re narrating over the computer screen movie captures, complete with the occasional um and you know fillers. These instructors are comfortable with the material and this confidence puts the viewer at ease. The rotation of presenters between modules also wards off the fatigue of listening to the same voice and speaker s dynamics. AppDev obviously put a lot of thought into providing the most optimal audiovisual training material for learning ASP.NET 2.0 (see Figure 3). They also did a great job with selecting which technologies to demonstrate and the progression of the module instruction.


Figure 2: Presenter Andy Baron is really happy about the subject matter. I ve never met anyone this happy or excited about writing C# or VB.NET code.


Figure 3: Large code fonts and crisp screen movie captures help to minimize eye strain, especially during long stretches of power-learning.


If AppDev spent more time polishing the ALE interface, or better yet, integrated ALE as a Visual Studio 2005 plug-in, the quality of the interface would have matched the quality of instruction. However, because the main focus of the product is the visual content being delivered, the problems associated with the interface are minor compared to the overall quality and effectiveness of the series. Developers seeking an effective audiovisual ASP.NET 2.0 learning tool will be generally pleased with what AppDev has to offer.




Clean interface with excellent screen-capture clarity of running code examples, even in full-screen mode.

Bookmarks and keyboard accelerators are not supported.

Clear, succinct progression of presented information. Presenters speak at a slow, succinct pace; a perfect cadence for providing enough time for the information to sink in.

Interface is locked to 1024x768, and there s no way to resize or run in full-screen playback mode outside of the AppDev Learning Engine (ALE) interface.

No DRM limitations, though ALE s online help does indicate some form of encryption present for activation purposes.

ALE doesn t automatically toggle the screen saver during video playback.


Mike Riley is an advanced computing professional specializing in emerging technologies and new development trends. He also is a contributing editor for asp.netPRO. Readers may contact him at mailto:[email protected].



Web Site: http://www.appdev.com/prodfamily.asp?catalog_name=AppDevCatalog&category_name=ASPC20Product

Price: US$595



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