Sams Publishing (www.samspublishing.com) had brought out a series of programming books under the banner of Teach Yourself in 21 Days, KickStart and Unleashed for all major languages. Over the last two years, Sams had released an unlimited number of books in the area of .NET particularly C# and ASP.NET. Their recent book titled "ASP.NET Developer's CookBook" is one of the most interesting titles in the field of server side programming using .NET Framework. This book has been written by Steven A. Smith (founder of ASPAlliance.com), Rob Howard (ASP.NET Program Manager at Microsoft) and over a dozen ASPAlliance columnists in a so called 'recipe' style. In order to read and understand the recipes contained in this book, you should require a working knowledge of ASP.NET. A good understanding of Visual Basic .NET with .NET Framework 1.0 will be a definite plus. It is better to have a basic idea of ASP 3.0 but I feel that most of the ASP.NET developer's will have a good knowledge of its previous predecessor.
Unlike traditional computer books, the ASP.NET Developer's Cookbook provides solutions for solving real world problems. Every chapter is filled with lots of theory and codes. Moreover, the concepts are explained in a user-friendly manner. Some of the chapters on the book teach about interesting ideas such as how to retrieve pop3 emails from an ASP.NET page, DataGrid sorting, and much more. While Part 1 and 2 covers about the fundamentals of ASP.NET and issues like caching, sessions and security, part 3 fully touches about data access except chapter 9 on Error handling. From my point of view, this chapter should be placed in part 2 of the book. The book also gives an overview about the usage of XML in ASP.NET. The chapter 13 on Rendering Data with ASP.NET Web Controls has been explained in an elaborate manner. I think this will be the most useful chapter for all developers. The authors have presented the part 4 in a comprehensive manner. The topics are covered in a capsule form on chapter 16 (Working with Numbers, Dates and Times), chapter 17 (Working with Files and Folders) and chapter 18 (Working with Collections). The one which I most liked is that of validating credit card numbers in chapter 16. No other book has explained these kinds of topics in such a nice tone. No doubt, readers can be able to easily understand the manipulation of strings, date, time and much more complex tasks very quickly with the help of this great book.
The remaining chapters cover advanced topics like web services, networking, reflection and threading. Chapter 22 on generating and manipulating images is indeed a big bonus for all readers. From my point of view, all levels of developers can use this book. It doesn't matters whether you are a beginner or an intermediate learner since the code samples are given in a mixed fashion. If you are a newbie pick up the easy codes first like sending e-mails from your ASP.NET page, performing validations etc else go deep into the book and try to learn advanced concepts on database access and much more. I suggest you to scan the Table of Contents and pick up the right recipe for your needs because it provides a real glimpse of the whole book in a nutshell.
Even though all concepts have been presented well through out the whole book, there are deficiencies and errors. I noticed unnecessary repetitions of sentences on the comments section in chapter 21. This occurs till the end of the page 348. Instead of repeating the sentences, it should be given commonly at the beginning of the chapter itself. I also came through few other mistakes (typos) when I went deep into the pages of the book. In the comments section of page 108 it is quoted as Customer error screen instead of Custom error screen. In page 64, a reference to section 4.4 has been stated but there is no such explanation on that specific section in page 68. The spelling of "outputCache" has been incorrectly mentioned as "ouptuCache" in page 65. I hope the authors will pay attention to rectify these minor defects in the next edition of this book.
Another notable limitation of this book is that there is no CD-ROM containing the code samples and the same has been given only in Visual Basic .NET on the book. But the book's website provides the samples in C# version. I hope the next edition of this book comes with code samples in J# too. I feel that the publisher should also give a CD along with these kinds of code intensive books so that readers can quickly get the relevant code/codes for use on their projects. The CD should also contain some useful tools and editors for working with ASP.NET.
Except the five figures on pages 124-126, the book doesn't include a single screenshot of any examples. Moreover, chapter 7 on state management and chapter 19 on web services contain only little recipes. Overall, this book is a must to be on the shelves of all ASP.NET developers' kitchen — both current and future.
Rating: **** (4)
About the Book
Title: ASP.NET Developer's CookBook
About the Reviewer
Anand Narayanaswamy, a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional, works as an independent Web/Software developer and technical writer. He runs and maintains learnxpress.com, and provides technical support to users. His areas of interest include Web development using ASP, ASP.NET, Software development using Visual Basic and in the design and preparation of courseware, technical articles, help files and tutorials. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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