I’ve just finished to read this book by Robert Lair and, as an educator, I have liked very much the writing style and the example-driven approach used by the author.
When you have to learn a new technology, It’s fundamental to have the possibility to find, explore and run practical applications explaining the concepts, in order to rapidly become productive. And this is the case of “Beginning Silverlight 2: From Novice to Professional“: every chapter, after a brief but exhaustive introduction of the subject, contains one or more dedicated examples which illustrate, step by step, how to accomplish a determined task. The instructions are clear and accurate, becoming a valuable resource for a beginner who has never used the technology.
Of course you can find similar examples on the web, but for a novice it’s important to find the right material in the right place to avoid confusion.
However, if you are looking for a book to use as reference for more complex scenarios and applications, you should look at others titles which contain more material but, at the same time, are more difficult to read.
Chapter 1 – Welcome to Silverlight 2
A brief but complete introduction to the evolution of user interfaces, Silverlight, its benefits and the development environment.
Chapter 2 – Introduction to Visual Studio 2008
Chapter 3 – Layout Management in Silverlight
A description for using layout controls including useful examples for the Canvas Panel, StackPanel and the Grid control. The source code covers the usage scenarios of the different controls for obtaining custom layouts.
Chapter 4 – Silverlight Form Controls
This chapter contains essential information for handling events and using the basic form controls like Border, TextBox, RadioButton, CheckBox and GridSplitter.
Chapter 5 – Data Binding and Silverlight List Controls
This chapter is very well written, data binding is one of the features you have to master if you want to professionally use Silverlight, the author has been able to illustrate a complex subject in a simple manner.
Chapter 6 – Data Access and Networking
The subject is complex, the choice of describing interoperability between Silverlight and WCF services is the more appropriate for a book of this level, the examples guide you through the steps for building an application composed by a client interface which communicates with WCF services. Well explained the instructions to avoid cross-domain issues.
Chapter 7 – Local Storage in Silverlight
Very well written, the example contains a complete File Explorer for the Isolated Storage, plus other instructions on how to view and clear it.
Chapter 8 – Introduction to Expression Blend
Expression Blend is a fundamental tool to build advanced user interfaces, in this chapter you will found basic information about its usage.
Chapter 9 – Styling in Silverlight
Working with styles is one of the topic you have to master to build reusable user-interfaces, the subject is well explained and makes simple a complex topic. Five stars.
Chapter 10 – Transformations and Animation
The examples are clear and complete and their description is accurate.
Chapter 11 – Custom Controls
This chapter guides the reader in building reusable custom controls to be used in Silverlight applications. This is a complex subject for a beginner, but the author has done a good work in describing it with a simple example.
If you are a beginner who want to learn Silverlight using a “by example” approach, this is the book you have to read. It can also be a valuable resource if you want to quickly explore the powerful capabilities offered by this technology.