Microsoft Expression Blend Unleashed
Author: Brennon Williams
Publisher: SAMS, 2008
Pages: 600
ISBN: 978-0672329319
Rating: 3.5
Aimed at: A good question
Pros: Provides much need coverage of Expression Blend
Cons: Unfocused; misses the mark; has some very poor sections
Reviewed by: Dave Wheeler

One of the great problems with WPF is that the line between developer and designer is blurred and frequently misunderstood. Historically, the design tools in Visual Studio have been poor or non-existent, often resulting in many developers hand-crafting their XAML. Many developers have tried and spurned Expression Blend, due to the alien interface. Similarly, most WPF books focus on the deep technical aspects, making them opaque to designers. Consequently, I was looking forward to reading a book that, from its title at least, purported to pick apart Expression Blend and make it accessible to all. Which is why I was so disappointed with the result.

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This is not so much a book about Expression Blend, but is a scattergun approach to WPF, C# (Chapter 10 is a primer on the language), .NET and Blend. Frustratingly, the sections that actually cover Blend will be extremely useful to designers and developers actually wanting to use Blend. However, there’s anywhere from 30 - 50% of the book that you will almost certainly just want to ignore. Many of the coding practices shown are poor.
Williams starts with a good overview of WPF, Blend and the future of the smart client. He also picks out the importance of a new and critical role: that of a XAML Architect (often known as a “devigner”), a hybrid that understands the key touch points for integration between designer and developer.

Ultimately, would I recommend this book to a developer? The answer is a qualified yes. The book has a lot of practical guidance on how to use Blend, and these sections are great. However, a lot of the book will have no appeal to designers or developers. It is almost the perfect definition of a curate’s egg: good in parts, awful in others.


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Smart Home Automation with Linux and Raspberry Pi

Author: Steven Goodwin
Publisher: Apress
Pages: 328
ISBN: 978-1430258872
Audience: Linux experts
Rating: 1
Reviewer: Harry Fairhead

Home automation is a hot topic at the moment but it isn't an easy area to work in. Can a book on Linux and Raspberry Pi sort it all out?



jQuery and JavaScript Phrasebook

Author: Brad Dayley
Publisher: Addison-Wesley
Pages: 384
ISBN: 978-0321918963
Audience: Novice to intermediate JavaScript programmers
Rating: 4.5
Reviewer: Ian Elliot

Pocket books, or phrasebooks in this case, are something that provide a unique form of summary of a topic. Can you provide a pocket re [ ... ]


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