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Book Review: Beginning ASP.Net 2.0
by Ged Mead | Published  07/20/2006 | Book Reviews | Rating:
Book Content

Chapter 1  - Introduction
Chapter 2 - Site Design

  The first two chapters contain an introduction to ASP.NET 2.0 together with an overview of the Wrox United application that is used throughout the book to demonstrate techniques.  

  The second chapter contains clear explanations of the new Master and Content Pages facility available in ASP.NET 2.0, including some variations of the technique.   It also explains the roles of two important project files - Global.asax and Web.config. 

   To a degree, the style of these two chapters by John Kauffman will favour those who have at least a little previous programming experience.   However none of the material is at a very high level or technically difficult, so  beginners will be able to master the content , but it may just take a little perseverance.

Chapter 3 - Page Design

   This chapter includes an introduction to some server controls, ranging from basic textbox and image controls to the more complex SiteMapPath, Menu and Treeview controls, amongst others.   Although the author of this chapter does include some specially prepared demo versions of the Wrox United code,  I found it easier to create my own website projects from scratch.   I would then sometimes cut and paste  various code chunks from the the final version that they supply.  

   This worked well for me, partly because I had trouble getting some of the specially-prepared samples to run (although I'm happy to accept that the problem lay with me not with her code).  The second advantage of this approach is that I had to give much more thought to what each line of code actually *did* and I found that this analysis helped me to reinforce my understanding of the various techniques.

In fact - having done that while first reading through the chapter - I see that author Chris Hart does set a couple of recommended exercises along the same lines, .  As she says, the sample code is available if you want to copy and paste it,  but you will obviously gain more knowledge and understanding by trying out the exercises.

Chapter 4 - Membership and Identity

This chapter introduces the basics of the concepts of identity, authentication, authorization,, personalization and membership.

It begins with a succinct and clear overview of web site security basics and it then goes on to cover some sample exercises for setting and editing Uses Roles and Access, both by using the Web Admin Tool and by editing Web.config by hand.

  Even if you are an HTML  complete beginner you should have no problem following the  detailed explanations .

Chapter 5 - Styling With Themes

  This chapter introduces CSS and covers several of the various ways you can use it.   It also explains the new feature of Themes which you can apply to individual pages or to all pages in a site.   The subjects of usability and accessability are also given some coverage in this chapter.

Chapter 6 - Events and Code

   Chapter 6 deals with HTTP,  web server architecture and many variations of Events,  including  server side events, global events, page and data events.  It also explains in detail how the Page's IsPostBack property works and how you can use it.

Chapter 7 -Reading Data
Chapter8 - Writing Data

   The book now moves into an area that some people think is one of the main reasons for making the effort to use ASP.NET 2.0  - Data.   As the author puts it:  "The hallmark of dynamic web application pages is the capability to use information from a database.   No other capability so widely expands the horizons of functionality for the visitor."
  Coverage  includes an overview of the theory and terminology of databases,  data source controls, data bound controls, XML data.  As in the previous chapters, the Try It Out sections help to break this large subject down into manageable and understandable chunks.

Chapter 9 - Code

   In Chapter 9, Dave Sussman takes you back to basics.  The previous chapters have helped you to create the beginnings of quite a sophisticated web site;   this chapter is designed to make you pause and be sure you understand the ground level techniques of programming before moving on to more complex topics.     Areas covered in this chapter include such things as variables and data types, arrays, collections, as well as program flow decisions, loops and an introduction to generics.

Chapter 10 - Componentization

   The book next moves on to Componentization -  not a word that trips easily off the tongue, but is really all about the splitting up code into discrete, logical blocks and units.  As I'm sure you will know, this is done to avoid the creation of what would otherwise be spaghetti code.  It includes details of the Code Behind approach, the use of Partial Classes, data layers  and multi-tiered applications.   Finally, this chapter deals with the ObjecDataSource and User Controls.

Chapter 11 - Roles and Profiles

   After the fairly heavy theory in the previous two chapters, the book returns to the Wrox United demonstration website project.  Roles and User Profiles which were introduced earlier in the book, are now dealt with in much greater depth.

Chapter 12 - Web Services

  No self-respecting .NET book these days would be allowed out of the door without a chapter or a section on the much heralded topic of Web Services and this is the subject of Chapter 12.   Against the backdrop of the Wrox United site, the explanation and demonstration of the Fixtures web service gives the coverage quite an acceptable  ‘real world’ feel.   And in fact it goes a stage further and demonstrates the use of a second web service - the Results Service on the PocketPC platform; again a believable scenario under the Wrox United website umbrella.

 Chapter 13 - E-Commerce

   Chapter 13 takes sixty pages to cover several aspects of E-Commerce.  Once again, the Wrox United setting is realistically employed in this chapter as Chris Ullman demonstrates step by step how to create a product catalog, a shopping cart, plus a Checkout with credit card handling. 

Chapter 14 - Performance

   In this next chapter we once again come down from the exciting heights of creating a money making website and, as in Chapters 9 and 10, catch up on the realities of developing applications.   This time the emphasis  is on performance.  Many techniques are explained and analysed.  These range from quite  basic  ones, such as disposing of objects and devising optimum database connections, through to intermediate and advanced areas , such as using stored procedures, caching, tracing and stress testing.

Chapter 15 - Dealing with Errors

   This again is a mix of core techniques and Wrox United samples.  It does its best to start you off on the right path, that is to code defensively, try and anticipate what may go wrong and code to avoid it with bullet-proof code.   It deals with validation, Exception Handling techniques, debugging, and demonstrates how to create a user friendly Custom error page  (None of the ugly Error 404 on the Wrox United site!)

Chapter 16 - Deployment, Builds and Finishing Up

    In this final, relatively short, chapter of the main book, various deployment scenarios are described.  This is followed by Testing, maintenance and health monitoring of your deployed site.


   There are five appendices to this book:

  • Exercise Answers for the conscientious reader (cheat sheet for the rest of us)
  • Setup.  Very useful for absolute beginners with lots of screenshots.  Step by Step guide to setting up Visual Web Developer Express.
  • A breakdown of the design of the Wrox United Database.
  • A beginner's guide to using the Database Explorer, again with many handy screenshots for clarification.
  • Quick reference for CSS and HTML.







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