I don't really like doing book reviews. With every review that I post, I swear I'll
never do another one. (I won't go into the long history of me and book reviews, but
if you're interested you can read a little about the last few in the beginning of my
of "ASP.NET Data Web Controls Kick Start"
from Sams Publishing.)
So what convinced me to do this one? Well... to be honest, I'm not sure. I think it
was a combination of a lot of factors. First, I hadn't dealt with SitePoint before
and the little that I had seen of the company I had liked (ie. giving multiple sample chapters).
Second, I hadn't read anything by Zak Ruvalcaba. Third, I hadn't done a review of a ASP.NET
book that wasn't on a very specfic topic. This is the first general "learn ASP.NET"
book that I've taken a look at. And finally, I think I just forgot how much time it
takes me to read one of these beasts. At 700+ pages a piece these books are not a
quick read... at least not for me.
As I mentioned in the intro, this is the first ASP.NET book I've read that attempts to
cover ASP.NET as a whole, and overall it does a very good job.
It assumes very little prior knowledge and covers the setup and
configuration needed to get started step by step. In many sections it seems like a workbook
(complete with screen shots)
that you follow along with to accomplish a given task. While advanced users may find
much of this content unnecessary, beginners will have a very hard time getting lost
if they follow along.
Not Just ASP.NET
The book also covers some peripheral topics that come into play when building a website.
For example, chapters 6 and 7 cover database design and SQL. Because this information
is not really part of ASP.NET, many books leave it out. Luckily this one does not.
Most novice web developers I've met know even less about SQL and databases
then they do about web development. They would be hard pressed to build a database-driven
web site without this information and yet most books leave them to find it on their own.
This type of thing is a nice inclusion in a book aimed at beginners.
Not For Advanced Readers
The book's preface states that the book is "aimed at beginner, intermediate, and advanced Web designers looking
to make the leap into server-side programming with ASP.NET." I wholeheartedly agree,
but make sure you read that carefully. It does not say Web developers... it
says designers! I overlooked that when I first read it and very quickly
found myself thinking that much of the content in the book would be pretty elementery
even for an intermediate level developer. This is definitely a book aimed at designers and novice
developers. Intermediate and advanced developers should probably look elsewhere or they risk
being bored or bogged down by the in-depth explanations.
The very thing that makes this a great book for beginners makes it relatively poor for the
Now to my only real complaint about the book. Following several chapters on database
related controls, I found a chapter discussing what web applications are and how to set
one up. A similar experience happened to me when I reached chapter 15 (out of the 17
in the book) only to find that it covered handling text files and
While they are all well written, it seems as if some of the
chapters were just thrown into the book at random places.
I would normally expect to
learn how to set up and configure a web application before I'm taught to build one.
Similarly, sending an email is such a simple and often used skill that
it seemed out of place way in the back of the book.
Overall this is a great book. It's focused on helping beginners learn ASP.NET and
get stuff done in the real world. It's well written and doesn't
take itself too seriously. The content included is well selected and adequately
covered, even if it does feel a little out of sequence at times. Advanced readers should
probably look elsewhere, but for those in its intended audience, the book is a great