Book Review: ASP.NET 2.0 web programming
with VB 2005[Murach]

by Peter A. Bromberg, Ph.D.

Peter Bromberg

Mike Murach is well known for his tradition of very clear, visually-oriented "How To" approach to book publishing. ASP.NET 2.0 Web Programming with VB 2005 continues this tradition.

First, I should say that the title could be considered a misnomer, since there really isn't much VB.NET code in this book; most of what you will see is carefully designed, step-by-step tutorials on how to do just about everything you'll ever need to know about ASP.NET 2.0. Since most of this involves working with the Visual Studio IDE, the Toolbox, and declarative ASP.NET 2.0 markup, which is mostly language - agnostic, the book is appropriate for both VB.NET and C# programmers. The book jacket reads "No other book teaches you so much, so fast, so thoroughly". While that is a pretty confident statement, if placed in context, it may very well be true.

Of course, a lot of this depends on your "frame of reference". Recently I read where a coyote was roaming in Central Park. I mentioned it to a co-worker and he said, "How on earth did a coyote get into Central Park?". I quipped, "I guess he must have come down from the Bronx". As a native New Yorker, that was my frame of reference. The frame of reference for this book is primarily people who have some programming experience, probably with VB.NET and are looking for a comprehensive way to get into ASP.NET 2.0 in a single book.

This book is 26 feature-packed chapters of "How To" material, all organized in a progressive, easy to digest order. Each chapter begins with a "mini Table of Contents" - a nice way to easily find what you are looking for, and ends with a Perspective section that summarizes, along with a Terms section highlighting important terms used. All this makes the book excellent for beginners and for experienced ASP.NET developers who can use this book as a valuable reference for their day to day programming needs.

Simple and clear explanations, practical code examples, reasonably good coverage of ASP.NET 2.0 features, and a visually appealing presentation format makes the book an easy read. The writing technique is concise, even meticulous - but not to a fault.

This book is presented in five sections and an appendix. Each section contains four to five chapters containing related content.

Chapter 1 provides an introduction to ASP.NET programming. Chapter 2 shows, by example, the development of a "one-page" web application.

Chapter 3 provides a framework for the development of a multi-page web application. In these chapters the reader gets coverage of the various aspects of the Visual Studio IDE,WebForms, validation controls, data sources, and session state. These concepts are presented within the framework of a shopping cart application. Chapter 4 covers debugging an ASP.NET application with the VS.NET debugger, tracing, and additional concepts.

Section 2 of the book comprises a total of seven chapters, beginning with a "crash course" in HTML. Chapter 6 covers the intrinsic server controls that ship with Visual Studio 2005. There are tables presenting some of the important properties and methods, along with short descriptions. Chapter 7 covers validation controls, and Chapter 8 details state management, including Session, cookies, and Application state. The remaining section chapters deal with Master Pages, Site Maps, and Themes.

Section 3 provides coverage of database programming. There is a basic introduction to database programming with the remaining chapters providing additional coverage of different data sources. Also covered is the usage of the data controls included with Visual Studio 2005; GridView, DetailsView and FormView. Each code snippet is accompanied by a Details section that analyzes it.

Section 4 covers more advanced topics for ASP.NET 2.0. The first chapter shows how to secure a website, including an introduction to SSL and certificates. There is code for a sample store application with SSL. Chapter 18 covers the login controls, and remaining section 4 chapters cover personalization, MultiView and Wizard controls, e-mail, custom error pages, and Web Parts. The final chapter of the section explains how to configure and deploy ASP.NET 2.0 applications.

The final section offers 3 chapters that provide a reasonably detailed explanation of the development of user controls, custom server controls, and web services. There is an Appendix with instructions for downloading the source code for the book, installation of IIS and Visual Studio 2005, creation of Virtual Directories, and other goodies.

If you are looking for a well-designed, progressive "Teach Yourself Everything You Need to Know" type of book for ASP.NET 2.0, this is a good candidate. Recommended, especially for beginners and those more advanced programmers who find themselves migrating from other technologies such as classic ASP.

Sticker price, $52.50. Dr. Dotnetsky looked at it and said he approves.

Peter Bromberg is a C# MVP, MCP, and .NET consultant who has worked in the banking and financial industry for 20 years. He has architected and developed web - based corporate distributed application solutions since 1995, and focuses exclusively on the .NET Platform.
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