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A Review of "Professional ASP.NET Web Forms Techniques" from Wrox Press

by John Peterson
Professional ASP.NET Web Forms Techniques

They Got Me To Do It Again

Not too long ago I wrote a review of "ASP.NET Distributed Data Applications" from Wrox Press. As I mentioned in that review, I don't particularly like doing book reviews, but apparently I have a problem saying no because when they asked me to do another one, before I even though about it, I had whipped off a reply saying "Sure... I'll do it". Well, just like last time, I've put it off for a good long while, but I finally got sick of the book taking up space on my desk and figured I might as well just do it and get it over with. So... here goes...

Buy Other Books Too

I'm not sure what it is, but rarely do you see the "This is the only book you'll need" approach anymore. With ASP versions 2 and 3, almost every book published was billed as the end all and be all of ASP books. I'm not sure if the publishers are getting smarter, the topics are getting more complex, or the audience is demanding more detail (though I suspect it's a mix of all three), but most of the books I see these days are picking one small part of ASP.NET and are trying to cover it well. This book is no different. In terms of an introduction to ASP.NET, the book spends all of about ten pages on it, before moving on to the topic at hand.

In general I think this is a very good thing. I wish more books (and stores, people, etc.) did one thing and did it well rather then trying to do everything and doing them all poorly. That said, as I mentioned in my review of "ASP.NET Distributed Data Applications", if you're buying this book and don't yet know much about ASP.NET be sure to add at least one more book to that shopping cart before you check out... you'll need it. This book covers Web Forms and UI... everything else you'll need to find elsewhere.

Learn By Example

The thing I like most about this book is that it presents things through a real world (well not quite) example. Instead of just throwing code at you, the book walks you through the different aspects of interface design by showing you how they are implemented on the fictitious Wrox Car Company's web site. This gives you a better sense of how each piece fits into the overall puzzle of building an application and is quite effective.

Chapter 7 - Creating Graphs and Charts

In my opinion, one of the keys to a successful UI is the judicious use of graphs and charts. Often a well designed graphic can covey an idea quickly and easily instead of leaving a visitor staring at a column of numbers trying to figure out which ones are important.

Where better to include a chapter on this type of information then it a book on web forms and UI. I feel it was an excellent choice of topic to devote a chapter to and the coverage is quite good. Even developers with no prior experience using the .NET drawing classes should be able to follow easily and yet the topic doesn't feel "dumbed-down" at all. Well done.

Conclusion

While many of the topics covered could probably be the focus of their own book, the coverage is basically right on. It gives you enough to be useful and practical without delving so far into the minutia that we stop caring. The explanations are excellent as was the choice to tie them into one example from start to finish. It's not a reference book, but is instead a book you can pick up and follow along with. When you've finished the book, you'll be surprised not only at how much you've learned, but at how little the learning process felt like school work.

My only real negative comment is on a point that really shouldn't make a difference, but did bug me nonetheless... the image used as a chapter separator is in extremely poor taste. I don't know who came up with the idea or how it got approved, but someone slipped up. I know I'm being petty, but it's a stupid blemish on an otherwise excellent book.

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