A First Look at ASP.NET v2.0 and A First Look at ADO.NET and System.Xml v2.0
Just when you thought it was safe to put down all those ASP.NET tutorial books and get some real work done with all that knowledge you soaked up, Microsoft is preparing the release of Whidbey, the next version of Visual Studio .NET. This isn't just an incremental point release like Visual Studio .NET 2003; it's a large rewrite of the rules. Luckily for the overburdened .NET developer, the new rules are considerably easier to play by. To get a jump on this next release, Addison-Wesley has published two books in its Microsoft .NET Developer Series line tailored to deliver the insights necessary to prepare for the next wave of technology coming from Redmond. A First Look at ASP.NET v2.0 and its companion title, A First Look at ADO.NET and System.Xml v2.0 are written for the eager, progressive developer in mind. .NET veteran gurus Alex Homer and Dave Sussman wrote both books, along with a key member of the Microsoft ASP.NET and ADO.NET product teams, respectively. This extended invitation was obviously done to ensure that the bulk of the contents accurately portray as much of the projected mid-2004 final release of the products as possible. If you don't have access to the Whidbey Technology Preview, these titles serve little more than an advertisement of what's to come. Developers fortunate enough to attend Microsoft's 2003 Professional Developer's Conference already have the bits necessary to test-drive these exciting technologies. Still others can try calling MSDN Customer Service to see if they qualify for a copy of the preview.
The ASP.NET 2.0 title is the larger of the two, weighing in at 500 pages of general overview information about the changes made between the 1.x and 2.0 releases. The beginning of the book that reviews the new features in 2.0 mimics what is already available on Microsoft's Web site. It isn't until about a quarter of the way into the book that real code samples are analyzed. I found myself reading at an accelerated pace due to the excitement I experienced with each new feature set explanation. In fact, I finished the first reading of the book in an afternoon, primarily because I didn't have access to the Whidbey preview at the time.
The ADO.NET 2.0 book took even less time, especially since it was 200 pages smaller than the ASP.NET book and yet, disappointingly, costs the same price. Herein lies the rub against these titles - Addison-Wesley should have combined the two into a single book. While I concur that the market for these early access books is relatively small, the content is sure to be obsolete (or at the very least, dated) by the time the final bits ship. If the trim sizes of these two books matched that of the other titles in Addison-Wesley's .NET Developer Series, the page counts would have been quite a bit smaller as well.
The saving grace is that each title does deliver what it promotes - a first look. In the case of the ASP.NET title, this first look examines the new data source controls, data binding techniques, the upgraded GridView and DetailsView controls, navigation, security, personalization, themes, Web Parts, validation, mobile device enhancements, caching, and the improvements in application configuration and administration. For the ADO.NET book, the authors examine the new bulk data copy features, Multiple Active Result Sets (MARS), interacting with the next release of Microsoft SQL Server (codenamed 'Yukon'), exploring the new features in the System.Xml namespace, and working with the XPathDocument2, XmlAdapter and SqlXml classes. Admittedly, while the ADO.NET book was shorter than its ASP.NET partner, the content was certainly denser and distilled.
In summary, if Addison-Wesley merged these topics into a single book at the price of a single title, they could have scored a coup within the .NET community. As it stands, only those developers with early access to the 2.0 preview release and a burly book budget should consider buying these titles at this time.
- Mike Riley
Title: A First Look at ASP.NET v 2.0
Authors: Alex Homer, Dave Sussman, Rob Howard
Pages: 500 pages
Title: A First Look at ADO.NET and System.Xml v. 2.0
Authors: Alex Homer, Dave Sussman, Mark Fussell
Pages: 298 pages