Essential Silverlight 2 Up-to-Date

Title:  Essential Silverlight 2 Up-to-Date
Author: Christian Wenz
Publisher: O'Reilly, 2008
Pages: 212 pages
ISBN: 978-0596519988
Aimed at: Silverlight early adopters
Rating: 3.5
Pros: Short and insightful treatment
Cons: Loose leaf binding
Reviewed by: Sue Gee

Silverlight is still an evolving platform and to cater for this fact O’Reilly has come up with a novel book format that enables you to update your book to keep abreast of the latest developments. The immediately noticeable feature of this edition of Christian Wenz’ book on Sliverlight is its binding – a stiff plastic translucent cover enclosing not only the printed pages but also an almost equal number of blank pages held together on three metal spindles. The idea behind is that you can download updates from the O’Relly website as they become available. You can either print to plain paper and trim to size or use the spare pages that have been intentionally left blank for this purpose. The idea is good in principle but how does it work in practice? The May update (dating only a few weeks after the original publication date) consisted of 70 printed pages. Printing options were for A4 single or double-sided (in which case the pages had lines indicating where to trim and where to punch holes) or for the pre-cut paper, again single or double-sided. Not all printers are happy with non-standard paper sizes and certainly many don’t work well with paper that isn’t straight out of the packet so full marks for providing the choice. Although the updated material occupied 70 pages in length, the pdf comprised 86 pages as it included empty reverse sides of several printed pages. More annoyingly the new material boiled down to two new chapters. A very short (2.5 page) “Using Silverlight Controls” covering the TextBox control and a more substantial one (21 pages) “Using Silverlight Data Binding”. Other pages to be replaced were all the contents pages and the index plus most of the Preface and introductory section simply to reflect the addition of the new material. Perhaps the worst insult after all this effort is that the operation of opening the ring binding to make the substitutions requires skill and talent and you run the risk that it will never be properly secure ever again.

As for content, the book presents a workmanlike approach to the topic with plenty of, often long, listings and lots of screen dumps. It is peppered with icons indicating tips and suggestions or warnings and cautions. These are in some way the highlights of the book – real insights into how to make the most or avoid the pitfalls.  But while it’s a good treatment of the subject matter I’m not convinced about the concept of paying for a book and then having to print and collate it myself.

<Reviewed in VSJ>