ASP.NET Kick Start
By Michael Riley
Author Stephen Walther knows ASP.NET. He has written not one, but two books on the subject. His first title, ASP.NET Unleashed, was a heavyweight 1,441-page encyclopedia on his vast expertise on the subject, including all the areas that make ASP.NET so compelling to learn and use. I gave the first edition of this title a respectable review (see my review of ASP.NET Unleashed) considering the challenge of capturing everything about ASP.NET that would appeal to the vast array of Microsoft developers in the marketplace. Walther's latest release, ASP.NET Kick Start, essentially is a synopsis of ASP.NET Unleashed, concentrating on code fragments and concepts that produce quick results. This approach works flawlessly, especially for the ASP.NET newcomer.
As the red lettering on the cover of the book states, ASP.NET Kick Start is quick, concise, and practical in its approach to teaching the basics of ASP.NET development. The book is logically segmented into four parts. Part 1, Building Web Form Pages, introduces you to creating ASP.NET applications using Visual Studio .NET as well as applying and understanding basic server controls; form validation; debugging Web forms; and even an introduction to creating Web user controls. Part 2, Working with Database Data, shows how you can use Visual Studio .NET's Database Object Server Explorer and Database Diagrams to leverage ADO.NET objects. It includes brief examples of using List, Repeater, DataList, and DataGrid controls that show how easily you can deliver dynamic database-driven ASP.NET applications. Part 3, Working with ASP.NET Applications, teaches you about page caching, application security and state, and understanding and modifying the machine.config and web.config project files. Part 3 also discusses the Global.asax file, customer HttpModules, and, of course, what you need to know when deploying a Web application to a server using a Web Setup project. Finally, Part 4, Components, Web Services and Custom Controls, examines component creation and Web service consumption and invocation, and it closes with 50 pages dedicated to the creation of custom Web Forms controls.
Because the book is one-third the size of ASP.NET Unleashed, Walther either glossed over or completely omitted many topics in ASP.NET Kick Start. For instance, mobile devices and controls, using .NET's XML and string manipulation libraries, and other Web facilities such as the SMTP service are not included in ASP.NET Kick Start, but their absence makes this book more beginner-friendly. His focus on generating the most obvious, visible, and immediately gratifying results rewards readers for their participation with a rapid understanding of the working basics of ASP.NET.
This book includes a couple of other improvements. Unlike ASP.NET Unleashed, which focuses exclusively on VB .NET, ASP.NET Kick Start provides both C# and VB .NET code for every example, often illustrating how much cleaner and succinct the C# syntax is compared to its VB .NET translation. Also, ASP.NET Kick Start is more cleanly edited - so, no references to a phantom CD-ROM companion disc. Although this book's code samples are unavailable from the publisher's Web site, there is no real need to obtain it because few of the book's examples exceed 10 lines. In fact, many code listings are only a few lines long - a true testament to the power encapsulated by ASP.NET's objects.
In addition, Walther's writing style is as quick, concise, and practical as the book's contents. Given the page constraints he had to work with and the challenge of distilling the most important, approachable aspects of ASP.NET development from his previous title, his result is admirable. Every page in the book exudes the excitement of learning something new and powerful. If you're a beginning ASP.NET developer or know someone who is, ASP.NET Kick Start will teach you the basics yet keep you engaged from start to finish.
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