Author: Daniele Bochicchio, Stefano Mostarda & Marco De Sanctis
Aimed at: Developers familiar with basics of ASP.NET
Pros: Many well-explained ideas
Cons: Insufficient depth to transition to expert
Reviewed by: Alex Armstrong
Aimed at those wanting to become more productive with ASP.NET 4. How well does it succeed?
This is a slightly odd book but it does have some very good points. What makes it odd is the level at which it tackles things. For example, Chapter 1 launches in with a look at ASP.NET and specifically what is new in ASP.NET 4.0 but instead of being a simple hands on type introduction it examines the detailed architecture of ASP.NET. This isn't difficult, but it isn't for the beginner either. However, it then goes on to a "Hello World" type example that just assumes that you know Visual Studio or Web Developer Express. The chapter next explains each of the features that makes the ASP.NET web form approach to building a web site different - round trip events, server side controls, the HTML rendering approach, viewstate and so on. It then goes through a series of "techniques" that explain how to do the basic things you need to do in any ASP.NET application.
Chapter 1 is a fairly reasonable introduction to ASP.NET as long as you already have some sophistication about how things work. Chapters 2 and 3, however, move on to consider the Entity Framework in the context of building an ASP.NET website. This is fast progress, even for an experienced programmer. There isn't much point in using ASP.NET for a static website and so consideration of database in the first part of the book makes sense. Whether it makes sense to use the Entity Framework will depend on what you decide to use for the database layer.
Part 2 of the book focuses on the UI as implemented by classical web forms. Chapter 4 looks at version 4.0 web forms including what is new. It deals with Master pages and URL rewriting and rerouting. Chapter 5 deals with data binding, 6 is on custom controls and 7 is on customizing markup. This is a very quick, and not very deep, exploration of web forms.
Part 3 consists of just two chapters on the new approach to ASP.NET, i.e.ASP.NET MVC. This consists of a short introduction to the MVC pattern and then a short example of how create an MVC page. While it does emphasise the break from the web forms approach, it doesn't really manage to explain the MVC approach clearly enough. For example, the idea of mixing code in with markup is introduced almost in passing. The fact of the matter is that ASP.NET MVC is such a big break it probably doesn't deserve to be called ASP.NET any more. The second chapter deals with customization and extension of the basic MVC system.This is a reasonable introduction to ASP.NET MVC but it isn't enough for most of the tasks you are likely to meet.
Part 4 is on security and this is a fairly wide ranging account of general security threats, including SQL injection attacks and authorization. The final part of the book is simply called Advanced Topics and includes Ajax, state, caching, HTTPModules and optimization. This is probably the best section of the book if you are an intermediate to advanced ASP programmer.
Overall this is a good book but it isn't simple enough for the beginner and it isn't extensive enough for the intermediate programmer wanting to become an expert. There is a lot of good reading between the covers but you will need another book on either ASP.NET web forms or ASP.NET MVC depending on which technology you are actually committed to.