Book Review: Silverlight 2 In Action [Manning]

Now that Silverlight 2 RTW is out and the dust can settle down, it might be a good idea to start looking at the books on Silverlight. One recently completed book, by Chad Campbell and John Stockton, is Silverlight 2 In Action.

Overheard on Twitter: "My girlfriends suck. Now i'm spending the night on Silverlight instead of partying."

Both Campbell and Stockton are active Tweeters that you might want to follow with your favorite Twitter client,  and Stockton in particular has quite a presence on the Silverlight Forums. Overall, this is a book that will satisfy both beginners to Silverlight  as well as more advanced programmers who may not necessarily need "the basics".


Silverlight 2 In Action is laid out in 12 Chapters:

1 Introducing Silverlight
2 Harmony with the web
3 Back to the basics: Layout and text
4 Handling user interaction
5 Getting down with data binding
6 Networking
7 Managing digital media
8 Getting a grip on graphics
9 Bringing it to life: Animation
10 Giving it style
11 Enhancing the experience
12 Share the light: Distribution and deployment

The first chapter gives background information and some interesting statistics. It also talks about some basics that will be helpful to beginners and even to intermediate - level programmers. Expression Blend is covered quite well here.

The second chapter covers how Silverlight interacts with the HTML DOM of the browser and how the Silverlight plug-in works. It also covers installation issues and handling events.

The third chapter covers layout and text - the concept of the Canvas, how the XAML works, how to arrange and layout content, and more. UIElement and FrameworkElement are covered. All is in great detail.

The fourth chapter covers user interaction - drag-and-drop, controls, and dialog boxes. Keyboard input and events,  the mouse, and much more.

The fifth chapter covers databinding - binding syntax, data sources, binding modes, the DataContext property,  customizing the display, converting values,  DataGrid and subcontrols, using LINQ, and a lot more.

The sixth chapter covers networking - trust, security and browser limitations, cross-domain policy, and connecting to data sources of all types. Very detailed treatment here.

The seventh chapter convers how to manage digital media in detail.

The eighth chapter deals with graphics - drawing, images, composite geometries, brushes, gradients, you name it, they seem to have it covered here.

The ninth chapter covers animation -- storyboards, doubleAnimation, the works.

The tenth chapter covers styling  - resources, project structure, bundling of resources, and more. Visual State Manager is also discussed.

The eleventh chapter deals with  enhancing the user experience -- IsolatedStorage, dynamic runtime XAML treatment, BackgroundWorker, updating the UI, retrieving content on demand, and more.

Chapter twelve covers distribution and deployment of Silverlight applications: UserControls, Dependency Properties, navigation, splash screens, and more.

Silverlight 2 In Action is loaded with excellent diagrams, illustrations, code samples and XAML. It is obvious that the authors took pains to ensure that they produced quality reading content. There is also an active forum for the book, in case you want to "keep up".

I've read a number of Silverlight books to date; many suffer the scars of having been begun for earlier Silverlight versions and have had to be updated as Silverlight has changed. Silverlight 2 In Action does not suffer from this -- it is feature-complete for the Silverlight 2 RTW (release) version and I do not believe I have seen any Silverlight book yet that has this much detail on virtually all the facets of Silverlight development.

Campbell and Stockton have done an excellent job. Recommended! I'd also like to mention that I'm pretty impressed with the Manning books in general so far.

By Peter Bromberg   Popularity  (1973 Views)