Author: Alessandro Gallo, David Barkol & Rama Krishna Vavilala
Publisher: Manning, 2007
Aimed at: ASP.NET developers moving to AJAX
Pros: Focuses on what you really need to know
Cons: Written before the release of ASP.NET 3.5
Reviewed by: Dave Wheeler
The chances are that if you’re a developer working with ASP.NET then you’ll have been looking at ASP.NET AJAX over the past year or so. AJAX is one of the hip technologies of the moment, as Web developers attempt to wring those last few drops of performance and functionality out of the browser. ASP.NET AJAX is the preferred choice for most ASP.NET developers to add AJAX to their applications; and this book is as good as any at getting ASP.NET developers up to speed with ASP.NET AJAX.
What I really liked about this book is that Gallo, Barkol and Vavilala didn’t just write a book that details how to use the UpdatePanel and the ASP.NET AJAX Control Toolkit: they take the time and trouble to explain the architecture behind the technology. That alone is worth the price of the book in the time and trouble that it will save when you start to move beyond the simple examples provided in the product documentation. For example, they really don’t focus on all the different extender controls, leaving that to the documentation. Instead, they explain how the extender mechanisms work and how you can create your own extender controls. And I especially liked their coverage of UpdatePanel, which is comprehensive and really gets you thinking about how to use it effectively and efficiently.
If there’s a downside to this book, it’s that it was written prior to the release of ASP.NET 3.5 and Visual Studio 2008. The references to what might be coming in “Orcas” grate, and it left me feeling that I needed to go and revalidate some of the content to make sure that it still applied. Similarly, having a section on ASP.NET Futures is interesting, but as you can appreciate, ASP.NET Futures changes quite frequently so this material is likely to date. This certainly doesn’t make the book bad or even obsolete as things currently stand: it’s just a fact of life that AJAX is a rapidly moving target. However, there’s no denying that this is one of the best books on ASP.NET AJAX that I’ve been lucky enough to read. If you’re like me, and want to know both how to use a technology and how it works under the covers, then this would be a good book to own. I heartily recommend it.
<Reviewed in VSJ>