ASP.NET 2.0 Unleashed
Long-time asp.netPRO readers may recall my review more than four years ago of the first edition of this book (see ASP.NET Unleashed). Author and Microsoft-named Software Legend Stephen Walther has been busy writing a sequel of sorts; however, ASP.NET 2.0 Unleashed is not simply a re-editing of the first title, but is nearly a full rewrite on the subject. Topics like GDI+ and deprecated ASP.NET 1.x topics were dropped in favor of the slew of new features in the 2.x release. And stale topics like Web services are given minimal space (in a book of nearly 2,000 pages, only four pages barely reference the technology). A nice correction in this version is that, unlike the first edition, references to the accompanying CD-ROM are indeed correct. In fact, the CD bound into the back cover thankfully contains all the code from the book in both VB and C# syntax, even though, like the original Unleashed title, the code listings in the book are exclusively in VB-only syntax.
SAMS has tagged the book at an Intermediate-Advanced level because the author assumes readers already know how to code and consume HTML, XML, CSS, SQL, and Visual Basic 2005 syntax. This is remarkable, considering how many pages are contained in the book. However, if the copious amount of code listings were extracted from the title and instead only the most critical snippets for learning were printed, the weight of this volume would have been considerably less. Even so, Mr. Walther has further honed his instructional skills in this new Unleashed title. His writing style is clear and to the point. For a book this large, the written explanations are remarkably trimmed of extemporaneous filler. The materials covered, ranging from using the ASP.NET 2.0 canned components to customizing Web parts, caching, and localization aspects, are logically presented. The Note and Warning call-out boxes are also a nice touch. Combined, all these aspects are indicative of a single author with a single voice that cements the one-to-one teacher/student relationship.
One of the advantages this ASP.NET 2.0 instructional title offers above any other I ve reviewed is the inclusion of AJAX coverage, though no mention is made of Microsoft s Atlas AJAX Toolkit. Nevertheless, the author spends a fair amount of pages demonstrating the subject in several places throughout the book, giving the reader a decent introduction and an applied appreciation for this red-hot technology.
Overall, I m honestly impressed with the improvements the author has made to the book. The focus on the most notable features of ASP.NET 2.0, along with the author s lucid writing and insightful comments, make for a strong contender in an already crowded space. Although late to the ASP.NET 2.0 book party, ASP.NET 2.0 Unleashed is certainly worthy of a top contender spot. While it could have done without some of the code listings and reduced the page count by about 500 pages or so (and preferably knocked the price down by 10 dollars), the fact remains that this is a solid title useful for understanding the most useful facets of ASP.NET 2.0 development.
Title: ASP.NET 2.0 Unleashed
Author: Stephen Walther
Publisher: SAMS Publishing
Page Count: 1,992 (CD-ROM)