Silverlight 3 Programmer's Reference

Author: J. Ambrose Little, Jason Beres, Grant Hinkson & Devin Rader
Publisher: Wrox
Pages: 608
ISBN: 978-0470385401
Aimed at: Both beginners and experienced Silverlight developers
Rating: 3.5
Pros: Good coverage Silverlight-specific topics
Cons: Tendency for repetition and readability is variable
Reviewed by: Mike James

This is in no sense a reference work and in many ways it's all the better for it. It starts off a little shakily in the sense that it introduces Silverlight more than once and in more than one voice - admittedly from different points of view but it still feels repetitive. You might start to get impatient with the book if you don't skip forward to more interesting chapters.

You can jump about in the book because it isn't really a logical introduction to everything Silverlight and it tends to ramble its way though the material. Also, as you might expect from a multi-authored book, the quality of the chapters varies quite a bit. Some of the early chapters, especially Chapter One, are very hard going despite being on fairly simple topics. You might find that you re-read sections before giving up and assuming that they really are saying nothing very deep after all.

This title is particularly good on Silverlight-specific topics such as browser navigation, web services, Javascript interop and the DOM. It doesn't go into great detail about the sort of things you should know if you have used WPF. However, there are a few chapters on basic controls and other facilities that you probably know about if you have programmed in WPF. This probably makes the book best suited to the Silverlight beginner although later chapters are more suitable for the advanced programmer. Many of the examples given are simply too long to follow. If the authors are trying to make a point then something shorter or a code extract would be better than a long rambling example most of which is standard.

Part Three of the book deals with Building applications and for me this was where the book really "took off". The discussion of the realities of creating applications was easy to read and motivating. Shame that it all comes to an end with a fairly irrelevant set of Appendices that tries to act as a reference for the class libraries. Most readers just won't bother with these and will use the web to find more up-to-date information.

Of course a book on Silverlight 3 might be considered bad timing as Silverlight 4 is on the horizon but don't let this put you off. Silverlight 4 isn't that different from version 3 and this book will help you with the core ideas.

Not the best book on Silverlight 3 imaginable but useful in parts.

Last Updated ( Monday, 28 December 2009 )