The ASP.NET 2.0 Anthology: 101 Essential Tips, Tricks and Hacks

Author: Scott Allen, Jeff Atwood, Wyatt Barnett, Jon Galloway & Phil Haack
Publisher: Sitepoint, 2007
Pages: 500
ISBN: 978-0980285819
Aimed at: Intermediate ASP.NET developers
Pros: Many useful recipes
Cons: Mix of levels in places
Reviewed by: Ian Elliot

This is a cookbook in C# pure and simple and one written by a team of authors who all have their strengths and weaknesses. In particular you can't help but think that a single author might have imposed a better and more logical structure on the entire work. As it is we are still offered a strange mix, sometimes in a strange order. For example, on page 40 we are offered the answer to the question "How do I use generics?" The answer goes into details about using generic collections which isn't quite the broad picture that that question implied. There is also a box out on boxing and unboxing and one on how generics is implemented. Personally think that this is just too advanced material for a cookbook style approach. If you are going to get into generics then you need a good grasp of what the problem is that generics solve and why .NET generics are perhaps only a partial solution. To make any sense of it you need to be a bit more than an intermediate ASP .NET programmer. However at the same time we have a recipe for converting an object to a string - guess what the solution is - use the ToString method. Only a complete beginner would need such a simple answer. This range of topics and abilities is the main problem with this book.

Once we move beyond Chapter 2 on Core .NET things improve from the point of view of subjects that are appropriate for a cookbook presentation and you will indeed find some very useful recipes - cross page postbacks, asynchronous calls and dynamic image handling. What you actually find useful, of course, depends on what you are trying to do. I found the sections on serving images - using watermarks and keys to secure picture - particularly useful.

To sum up this is a good book trying to get out of a restrictive cookbook format. If you can cope with the idiosyncratic presentation and are an intermediate level ASP .NET programmer then it offers a lot to enjoy and learn.