For many years Wrox produced books that were popular with developers. Then, around 2004 or thereabouts, they pulled down the shutters and we all thought that Wrox was no more.
But Wrox has resurfaced under the Wiley umbrella and those book covers of group shots of smiling expert authors are back with us again. Rather like the famous cry of "The King is dead. Long live the King!", we can say "Wrox is dead. Long live Wrox!" perhaps.
Risen from the ashes and on the surface looking as though it's business as usual, there has been a steady output of Wrox titles over the past few months. The Wrox trademark approach of employing multiple authors on one book has also been reinstituted.
One of my complaints about this approach in the past was that in some of their books it was obvious that the authors weren't talking to each other much. The areas of overlap were many and sometimes needless. Of course, occasionally, there was a benefit to this; if you didn't totally follow the explanation of a topic by one of the authors, then you might pick it up from the duplicated but differently phrased explanation from one of the others.
Apart from that occasional plus though, generally I found that the books which were essentially sets of individual essays placed in a logical order were less useful than a traditional single author book. So, has the Phoenix of Wrox fallen into the same bad old ways? Well, based on this book the answer has to be a resounding "No!". It certainly looks as though the coordination of the content of this book has been excellent; quite an achievement considering that it has four co-authors all working in tandem (or should that be "quad-dem?). I detected very little unecessary overlap and in fact in several places one author (or the editor) has pointed to further information written by one of the other authors elsewhere in the book.
The target audience for this book is given as : "This book is for anyone new to web programming or who has a small amount of knowledge of web programming concepts. Maybe you want to start a career as a web developer? Or perhaps you just want to learn how to use some cool server-side technology to put together some sites in your spare time? In either case, this book teaches you what you need to know and gives you a good feel for how the technology works, how to use the Visual Web developer environment to speed up your development and to give you total control over the development process."
I think that's a fair summary of who will gain benefit from this book, but would underscore the inference that you should have some general background knowledge of developing. It's certainly not pitched anywhere near as high as the level of the Developer-To-Developer series, but I think that complete newcomers may struggle at times, whereas those with the "small amount of knowledge" will find that this book is pitched perfectly for them.
The book uses a demonstration website which has been created by the team purely for tuition purposes. This can be viewed here. The home page of this demo site very usefully has a quick link to the downloadable book code.
The Wrox United site is used throughout the book for everything from basic site design to e-commerce and from themes and master pages to accessing and updating SQLServer databases. There are occasional sideways moves into non-Wrox United areas to cover particular topics, but on the whole the thrust of this book is that each new topic learned will be incorporated in some way into the finished Wrox United site.