A while back I posted a review of Stephen Walther’s ASP.NET 2.0 Unleashed. It’s a fantastic book that I’ve used more times than I can count. The release of the .NET 3.5 framework means there are lots of new things to learn. Thankfully, Mr. Walther has released an amazing follow up-book titled ASP.NET 3.5 Unleashed.
At 1890 pages this book has just about everything you need to know to start building complex ASP.NET applications. While the book assumes that you have some familiarity with using ASP.NET the first few chapters are still devoted to the basics. I encourage everyone to read them, even the experts. There are many tips and tricks in the book so you may learn something new or pick up on something you’d long forgotten. Did you know the asp:Literal control has a build in Mode property that can be set to HTML encode it’s content? I’d honestly forgotten about that and had been doing my encoding on the back-end.
This book provides an in-depth look at just about all of the core ASP.NET features building on many of the techniques we used in 2.0. For the new features specific to ASP.NET 3.5 , Walther devotes an entire chapter to the new ListView and DataPager controls. These controls can be thought of as a GridView or Repeater on steroids. There’s also a chapter on data access with LINQ to SQL and a 3-chapter section devoted to working with AJAX.NET and the AJAX Control Toolkit.
There are many books out there that focus on the “how” but what I like most about Mr. Walther’s books is that he devotes a great deal of time to the “why”. For example, the book explains how to use the SqlDataSource control but then also explains why you’ll want to avoid it for most complex applications and use the ObjectDatasourceControl instead. With this book you’ll not only learn how to get things done, you’ll learn how to get things done right. For that reason it’s an invaluable resource for your library. Every ASP.NET developer should have this book on his/her shelf.
Note: While the code samples in the previous 1.1 and 2.0 Unleashed books were written in VB.NET, this new 3.5 book has them written in C#. Walther cites the fact that there are now more C# developers than there are VB.NET developers as the reason for the switch. I would’ve liked to have seen two different versions of the book but all code samples are also provided in VB on the included CD-ROM so everyone can easily follow along.