There will certainly be a slew of new Silverlight books now that Silverlight 3 is “baked”, and this is one of the first. J. Ambrose Little, Jason Beres, Grant Hinkson, Devin Rader and Joseph Croney have put together a well – rounded reference book that covers much of the Silverliight 3 offering.
I do not know all of the authors, but I do know Ambrose Little, and he is nothing short of a genius. Back around 2004, Ambrose wrote a two-part article called “The Perfect Service”. I was working at a VOIP company at the time. When you are in the telephony business, you know that developers don’t have the luxury of stopping critical services to do “upgrades”. Using Ambrose’s techniques, plus some of my own, I was able to create a set of SIP Message routing services that could stay up 24/7 even if a developer needed to make a change. All they had to do was copy the revised assembly into the execution folder, and the “Service Manager” would detect it, load it into a new AppDomain, read the configuration and start it.
So I was happy to see that Ambrose joined Infragistics, and I am sure that his compatriot authors, who work there with him, are all top-rate.
There are several different “Kinds” of technical books, and a Programmer’s Reference is a different animal from the rest of them. Instead of having progressive chapters on “how to build” XYZ with code examples, a Programmer’s Reference tries to cover all the major areas of a platform or language, describing the different parts in a short, useful manner, and providing perhaps a small example in code. The idea is that this is a book that you can keep at your desk to be able to quickly look up something.
The book is broken down into three major sections, “Getting Started”, “Using Silverlight 3 Essentials”, and “Building Applications”.
The first section of the book provides a decent general overview of Silverlight as a platform, basics of XAML, an architectural tour, and your developer Toolbox. Excellent for those who are new to Silverlight, and optional but good coverage for the more experienced.
The second section takes a deeper dive into Controls, Text, Layout, styling and use of Resources, Graphics, media and Services. Services are further broken down into communications, storage, and installation-updates.
The last section covers the Browser and the Server, security and cryptography, dealing with data, designing and styling the UX, creating custom controls, and more.
Finally, the book includes five Appendices with Base Class Library and System.Windows references, Media and Shapes references, and additional resources.
Silverlight 3 Programmer's Reference is in full color; this makes the code samples and the graphical / photo illustrations really come alive. Updates and dowloadable source code are available at the Wrox (now Wiley) web site. While there are some minor grammatical errors and a small portion of the material appears to have not been 100% updated to Silverlight 3, these are minor issues and don’t materially impact the otherwise excellent quality of the book.
One thing I know for sure: we, as developers, are paid to THINK. This book will help you to do so.
Recommended. Sticker price, $49.99, available at some discounters for less.