Essential Windows Phone 7.5

Author: Shawn Wildermuth
Publisher: Addison-Wesley
Pages: 512
ISBN: 978-0321752130
Aimed at: Newcomers to Windows Phone who already program in C#
Rating: 4.5
Pros: Good explanations of key ideas
Cons: Doesn't go very far
Reviewed by: Harry Fairhead

The subtitle "application development with Silverlight" reminds the reader that at least for the moment this is one area where Silverlight still has a life.

The subject of the book is Windows Phone 7.5, which is the current up-to-date version. Notice that this book only covers Silverlight and not XNA development for Windows Phone.

Chapter 1 explains why the SDK and tools that you use are called 7.1. At this point you realize that the book is for beginners in that it next goes over the details of the what a mobile phone is and issues like the marketplace. You can feel free to skip this part and move on to Chapter 2 where Shawn Wildermuth explains how to write your first app using Visual Studio and Blend. Again this is aimed at the beginner, but notice that you need to be able to program and you need to have an idea how C# works.


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From here the books level ramps up moderately fast. Chapter 3 is on XAML and covers its basic operation without going into so much detail that it reads like a syntax definition. Some of the more difficult ideas - like data binding and templating - are covered too quickly and you really only get the flavour of the facility.

Chapter 4 introduces the standard controls and does cover the all-important Panorama and Pivot controls very early on. From there it goes deeper into data binding building on the taster in Chapter 3. The chapter closes with a look at the controls included in the Windows Phone Toolkit.

Next we have a little detour into the wider issues of phone development. How to design for a phone, using Blend, and what makes a good app. The next chapter continues on with the basic ideas including lifecycle management and the various phone facilities - the app bar, tilt and so on.

Chapter 7 takes up the deeper look at the specifics and it goes through the various aspects of the API - vibration, motion, alarms, media, the camera and so on. The following chapters zoom into larger, but more specialized, aspects - database and storage, multitasking and services. The chapter on services deals with JSON, OData and Push notifications.

Finally the book rounds off with a look at the Marketplace its rules and regulations and how to get your app ready for sale. It also covers the idea of using adverts to generate some cash.

This is not an expert's book and as long as you can program in C# and know a bit about .NET then it should get you started on creating Windows Phone 7.5 apps. The description of the ideas are easy to read, there are plenty of boxouts to bring you up to speed on background information, and the examples mostly short code snippets that illustrate the point being made. If you are looking for a book that presents big real world examples you aren't going to be happy. Equally the book doesn't really deviate from the obvious stuff and it doesn't serve up any recipes cookbook style.

If you are an intelligent programmer looking for a gentle introduction to building Windows Phone 7.5 apps then this book is exactly what you are looking for. It is easy to read, covers the ground and is good at explaining the ideas. You will need another more advanced book, or a careful read of the online documentation to do anything really new, but there is time for that.

Highly recommended to the .NET developer who is new to Windows Phone.


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Node.js in Action

Authors: Mike Cantelon, Marc Harter, TJ Holowaychuk & Nathan Rajlich
Publisher: Manning
Pages: 416
ISBN: 978-1617290572
Audience: Advanced JavaScript programmers
Rating: 4
Reviewer: Ian Elliot

Node.js is just another way that JavaScript seems to be eating the world. Does an "In Action" book expla [ ... ]



Practical Common Lisp

Author: Peter Seibel
Publisher: Apress
Pages: 499
ISBN: 978-1430242901
Audience: intermediate programmers who want a leisurely guide to Lisp
Rating: 4
Reviewer: Mike James

A practical book on Common Lisp - surely some mistake?


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