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Video Training Book Review: Data Access in ASP.NET 2.0 Framework by Stephen Walther

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The goal of Data Access in ASP.NET 2.0 Framework is to show you everything that you need to know to start building database-driven web applications using the Microsoft ASP.NET 2.0 framework and the Microsoft Visual Studio Development environment.

Your instructor for this video is Stephen Walther, a long time developer of commercial websites including Collegescape.com which is used by Harvard, Stanford, and MIT to accept admission applications. He was also named a software legend by Microsoft.

This training package contains a video that is divided into 5 modules and runs around 4 hours and 20 minutes. There is also a workbook that is divided into 3 sections. The first section is a step-by-step companion to the video. After you watch the video, you can use this section to review a topic without having to go back and re-watch the video to remember some part of the technique. The second section contains an introduction to SQL. This is aimed at those who are new to Microsoft SQL Server 2005 or to the SQL language. The third part is an introduction to ASP.NET 2.0 – again, this is for those who are new to the subject.

cover of the bookTo work with Data Access in ASP.NET 2.0 Framework you will need to have one of the Visual Studio 2005 (or greater) editions installed on your system; this can be the express edition that is available for free from Microsoft.

Module 1, "Getting Familiar" will introduce you to the Microsoft Visual Studio development environment. You will learn about the different versions and what they offer. The version that is expected you have is the Visual Web Developer Express edition. You will step through the interface and then you will create a new website, learn how to use the solution explorer, the editor, the toolbox, and the properties windows. You will then see how to run an ASP.NET page.

Module 2, "Creating an Employee Directory" shows you how to create an employee database table. This is done to illustrate how you can create a functional database driven application using ASP.NET From there you will create the default.aspx page that displays a list of all employees as well as creating an add and edit page that will allow you to modify the table.

Module 3, "Using the ASP.NET 2.0 Access Controls" will teach you how to use each of the ASP.NET data access controls in detail. You will begin with the List Controls to display a list of options. Then you move on to the GridView control to display, navigate, and edit records. Next you will work with the DetailsView and the FormView control to display and edit a single database record. Finally, you will learn how to use the Repeater and DataList controls to present a specialized view of database record.

Module 4, "Advanced Topics" covers other topics such as handling database errors gracefully and handling multiple people trying to access the same data at the same time.

Module 5, "Creating a Guestbook Application" Puts everything together, and you create a guestbook application that will give you some experience with validation to prevent dirty data getting into your system, using JavaScript to pop up windows, and see how to prevent JavaScript injection attacks.

Data Access in ASP.NET 2.0 Framework is really geared for the novice programmer, or someone who has never worked with data in a Microsoft environment but wants to learn how to access data in a website using ASP.NET 2.0. The concepts are presented clearly and accompanied by an exercise to practice the presented information.

Data Access in ASP.NET 2.0 Framework is not without a flaw, not in its content, but rather with its navigation. When you are in a video, you have to know to select the return to menu, or you might be tempted to click the close window box, leaving you out of the program where you have to restart. It would be nice if there were a return button, or breadcrumb trail.

Other than that, the presentation in the video screen is clear and quite easy to view, and the content is informative. It provides an excellent alternative to reading a text on the topic and you have the ability to watch and learn. If you want to learn data access in ASP.NET 2.0 Framework, then this will provide a good introduction.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.