Book Review: Professional ASP.NET
Author: Intelligent Solutions Inc.
Version Compatibility: ASP.NET
ASP.NET represents a radical shift in web application development methodology and (in my opinion, at least) a profound improvement over previous approaches. Therefore, you will want to have a reference that comprehensively covers this new technology, and Wrox's Professional ASP.NET is the right choice.
According to Wrox, the book is aimed at ASP developers who are currently using ASP 2.0 or 3.0 and considering upgrading to the ASP.NET. However, because ASP.NET development is so similar to desktop application development in VB.NET and C#, non-web developers who wish to add to their repertoire would be well-advised to buy this book.
What I look for in technical books are comprehensiveness, clarity, and lots of sample code. This book has all three going for it. Its thorough coverage includes web controls, XML, Database integration, security, web services, garbage collection, threading, the common language runtime (CLR), debugging, error handling, the Visual Studio.NET IDE, and more. The prose is concise and clear, and the code examples are useful and easy to follow. For example, I got an instructive XML paging dataset example (http://www.freevbcode.com/ShowCode.ASP?iD=2996) to work after reading the relevant section for no more than a few minutes.
Wrox is usually the first to go to press on new development languages, because their books are often released while the technology is still in beta. This is great for developers who want to be the "first on the block" to master the latest and the greatest. It is also risky for Wrox and their customers for obvious reasons: technologies change, often significantly in the course of beta releases. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose: The Wrox DHTML book, which I bought when IE 4.0 was in beta, is still my primary DHTML reference. On the other hand, much of the code in the Wrox book Programming VB.NET with the Public Beta is outdated due to the changes from Beta 1 to Beta 2.
I am guessing that purchasing Professional ASP.NET is a safe bet. It is based on .NET Beta 2, and (for what it's worth) Microsoft has stated that there will be few changes in the language before the final release. And even if there are changes, this book covers the essential concepts so well that it will be worth the effort to pull the changes to the book off the Wrox Web site when the final version is released.
The more I play around with ASP.NET, the more I look forward to building my first full-blown web application with it. And when I do, I will want to have Professional ASP.NET handy.