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Book Reviews

Book Reviews

A First Look At ASP.NET
Christmastime has come and gone, and the only thing left to worry about is the present for yourself. You mean you didn't reward yourself for buying everyone else presents and developing like a mad dog? Why not grab a copy of A First Look at ASP.NET v2.0? You'll be planning next year's Christmas list in no time. This new tome is the first by the prolific writing team of Homer and Sussman for Addison-Wesley. At a little under 500 pages, it is as complete a preview of the new features in ASP.NET 2.0 - due for release in Winter '04 - as you could wish for before we the public can actually get our hands on a beta of the code in the spring.

Written against the Whidbey preview code handed out at PDC '03, all the examples are in VB.NET, so there may be some changes in syntax for C# users, but they are simple enough to follow in your head. The only problem is that your head might be spinning too much from the well-described and frankly groovy new features described within. There's a large "wow" factor to this book, which, coupled with the well-worded text and excellent examples (available online at www.daveandal.net), makes you wish the final release of .NET 2.0 had been waiting under your Christmas tree instead of being tantalizingly just out of reach.

Chapter 1 sets up the book nicely with a balanced 24-page summary of what the book covers, leaving it up to you to decide where to go next. The remaining 12 chapters fill out the detail, but in a seemingly random order. It might be a stroke of genius to push topics the average Joe wouldn't normally read up front to bring them to his attention, but equally it might make just as much sense to group UI, business, and data tier topics together.

Not that it really matters. Whether you're reading a chapter on its new caching system, its improved security, or the evolution of its personalization features, this book does a great job in putting across the main tenets of the new ASP.NET: less code, more usable features, mobile platform integration, and quicker to build. Alex Homer and Dave Sussman are rightly regarded as two of the community's foremost authors on ASP.NET. With a little help from one of the ASP.NET team's product managers, this book just proves it again.

Now back to next Christmas. Should I just ask for Visual Studio Whidbey - or a new computer to run it on? If I don't need to write much code, maybe I could get a Tablet PC and build Web apps with a stylus? Bet I could. I'll definitely need the followup to this book for the final release, then I can plan world domination and buy that penthouse I've always wanted. Hope Santa's got a big enough sack.

Title: A First Look At ASP.NET v2.0
Authors: Alex Homer, Dave Sussman, and Rob Howard
Publisher: Addison-Wesley
ISBN: 0321228960
List Price: $39.99
Rating: ****
Reviewer: Dan Maharry

Reviewer bio: Dan Maharry is a freelance technical writer and reviewer based in the UK.

The .NET Languages: A Quick Translation Guide
Whenever you're trying to learn a new language, it's nice to be able to compare in a side-by-side fashion how each language implements a particular command or concept. I remember many years ago when there were a gazillion versions of Basic, I found a handy reference guide that listed side by side the differences in many of the dialects of Basic. Mr. Bischof does a similar thing in his book by providing side-by-side examples of the three main languages used in the Microsoft world today, VB6, VB.NET, and C#.

As Mr. Bischof points out, this book is designed for two types of programmers. "The first type is a VB6.0 programmer deciding to program in either VB.NET or C#.... The second type is a programmer working in one of the .NET languages and still having to use/review code in the other language."

The chapters are laid out in an orderly and logical progression. Almost all of the chapters begin with charts that contain a side-by-side comparison of how to accomplish a particular action in each of the three languages. The rest of the chapter explains the fundamental concepts of the topic and how it is implemented or not implemented in each language.

The charts are the strongest part of the book. They are something programmers will use over and over again - especially if they are new to a .NET language or if they code mainly in one .NET program but have some special projects where they need to code in another. In fact, I wish that Apress had included these charts as a laminated card that could be detached from the book and used for reference purposes.

I found that the chapter discussions were at a beginner's level and the coding examples provided were lightweight. This would not have been so bad if the back of the book did not indicate that the user level for this book is intermediate-advanced.

It would be nice if Mr. Bischof would revisit this book as more languages are added to .NET and revise his charts accordingly.

If you are looking for a book that quickly and concisely provides you with a translation guide between these three major languages, then you want to take a good look at this book.

Title: The .NET Languages: A Quick Translation Guide
Author: Brian Bischof
Publisher: Apress ISBN: 1893115488
List Price: $29.95
Rating: ***1/2*
Reviewer: Steven Mandel

More Stories By Steven Mandel

Steven Mandel has worked in the IT industry for over 15 years designing databases using Microsoft Access and SQL Server. He has developed Web and Windows applications using VB.NET and has written numerous articles and reviews about ASP.NET and VB.NET.

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