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Book Review: Beginning Silverlight 3 By Robert Lair

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Silverlight is a web application framework that is Microsoft's answer to Adobe Flash. It has integrated multimedia, graphics, animation, and interactivity into the runtime environment. The goal of Beginning Silverlight 3 is to deliver the fundamental concepts and techniques so that you can develop Silverlight applications.

The Silverlight design tools are different than those that are used to create Ajax and JavaScript sites and the goal of Beginning Silverlight 3 is to step you through how to create Silverlight applications as well as teaching you the fundamental techniques and how to apply them to your own projects . The book is 500 pages divided into 13 chapters.

Chapter One, "Welcome to Silverlight 3," introduces you to Silverlight which is a cross-platform plug-in that allows you to create rich interactive applications (RIA) for the Web. In this chapter you will see the benefits that it brings to your development as well as the tools used for creating applications. Chapter Two, "Introduction to Visual Studio 2008," takes a deeper look into the main tool that is used to create Silverlight applications as well as taking you through creating your first application.

Chapter Three, "Layout Management in Silverlight 3," examines some of the layout management controls. These five controls are the Canvas, StackPanel, Grid, WrapPanel, and DockPanel. Chapter Four, "Silverlight 3 Controls," explores the controls provided by Silverlight in general and then take a more formal tour of the more commonly used controls you in Silverlight.

Chapter Five, "Data Binding and Silverlight List Controls," describes two controls that are used to display lists of data. Here you will see how to use them to display data in both flexible and unique ways through the use of data binding. Chapter Six, "Data Access and Networking," discussed how these two acts done differently in Silverlight. In this chapter you will see what makes data access different and then explores the techniques for accessing data.

Chapter Seven, "Navigation Framework," describes a new feature in Silverlight 3. It allows developers to navigate through different pages within a Silverlight application. This navigation gives the user the feel of browsing through web pages. Here you will work with some examples that involve different aspects of the framework.

Chapter Eight, "Local Storage in Silverlight," concerns a virtual file system that can be used to store data on the client's machine. Here you will explore the technique of isolated storage and how it can work for you. Chapter Nine, "Introduction to Expression Blend," looks at the designer's portion of Silverlight. Here you will learn about the key features of Expression Blend as well as about its workspace.

In chapter 10, "Styling in Silverlight," you will learn to make choices about your design by controlling the styles of your UI elements. Here you will learn how to define and apply styles. Chapter 11, "Transformations and Animation," shows you how to put animations into your applications without the need to have to learn Adobe Flash. In this chapter you will see how you can add animation from within .NET.

Chapter 12, "Custom Controls," examines when it is appropriate to write custom controls in Silverlight. You will look at the Silverlight toolkit as well as different aspects of the Silverlight control model. Chapter 13, "Deployment," examines the post development phase of Silverlight creation. This chapter focuses on the deployment of your Silverlight Application.

Beginning Silverlight 3 is a good introduction for the beginning Silverlight developer. It provides step-by-step examples that progresses from chapter to chapter and skill to skill. The author progressively walks you through the development process from start to finish and is detailed enough so that you should not get lost along the way

While this is a beginner based book, you should have some basic skills with programming in C#, and although the author goes through Visual Studio 2008, you should be somewhat familiar with that environment as well.

If you want to get your feet wet with Silverlight programming, or you have been trying to on your own and are having trouble getting up to speed — especially with the data access, data networking, local data storage, and Expression Blend areas — then Beginning Silverlight 3 is the book for you. I highly recommend this book.

About T. Michael Testi

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