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A Review of "Build Your Own ASP.NET 2.0 Web Site Using C# & VB, 2nd Edition" from SitePoint

by John Peterson

This is a Good Book

That's what everyone wants to hear so I figure that's what I should start with. Much like the previous version, if you're brand new to ASP.NET development then you really can't go too wrong by picking up this book. Overall it does a very good job and if you just follow along, you'll be hard pressed to get yourself lost. It's a little simplistic for the advanced reader, but novices will find themselves building ASP.NET pages, applications, and sites in no time.

That being said... I've naturally got some small complaints.

Both VB and C#?

I don't know too many developers that write code in both languages, yet the book gives you almost every piece of code twice... first in VB and then in C#. It's sort of neat at first, but it becomes pointless pretty quickly. If they really wanted to do us a favor, there would be two versions of the book, one in VB and one in C#. But honestly, that's not even really necessary since the most important information to be learned from all the code samples is how the .NET objects work... programming language syntax is a distant second or third.

Chapter Sequence

I mentioned this when I reviewed the first version and it's just as true this time... I simply don't understand how some of the simplest, most commonly used topics get left until the very end of the book. Am I missing something or do most sites at some point use email? Data binding, exception handling, validation, Master Pages, parameterized queries, and countless other things get discussed before you learn how to send an email. My first web site went something like this... "Please bear with us, our site is under construction. If you'd like more information, please fill out this form [which will get emailed to me] and I'll get back to you. Thanks for your patience." Am I the only one that thinks learning about email might be something you do earlier rather then later? Well apparently the authors don't think so... the book covers sending an email in chapter 14 -- the last chapter in the book!

Hey, Where's the Rest?

I'm not sure how this happened, but we lost some stuff on the way to the second edition. Gone is the chapter on building a sample shopping cart application. Same goes for error handling. They still mention it, but it no longer merits its own chapter. The last two chapters from the first edition ("Rich Controls and User Controls" and "XML Web Services") seem to have been dropped altogether. Granted those last two were probably a little advanced for the book anyway, but I was expecting more information: all the stuff from the first edition plus coverage of all the latest and greatest stuff. Somehow when all is said and done, we ended up with 70 pages less then the first edition.

It Really Is a Good Book

Now that I've told you all the bad things about it, you're probably thinking, "Why would I waste my money on this book?" But please don't write it off altogether... it really is a good book. With "Build Your Own ASP.NET 2.0 Web Site Using C# & VB, 2nd Edition", Sitepoint has taken a classic and updated it with information on the latest version of .NET. Sure... it's a little shorter and a few things seem out of place, but it's still a great tool for the budding developer. What it all boils down to is that the first edition was so good, the second edition was bound to fall a little short by comparison. It's still a good book and one of the best entry level ASP.NET books available... I was just hoping that it would be great.

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