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A great book to learn the basics of ASP.NET.

Book Review: Build Your Own ASP.NET 3.5 Website Using C# & VB by Cristian Darie and Wyatt Barnett

ASP.NET gives Web developers the ability to create dynamic and interactive Websites efficiently because of all of the controls that are built into the language. To all of this power comes some cost. Although it is simple to use, it can take some time to really learn really well.

Build Your Own ASP.NET 3.5 Website is meant to be an introduction into the world of ASP.NET. Its goal is to teach you the foundations in a step-by-step manner until you have a thorough grasp. Throughout the book you will develop an intranet site for a fictitious company giving you the ability to see the many components of .NET in action. The book is 800 pages in length and divided into 15 chapters.

Chapter 1, "Introducing ASP.NET," will take you through what is needed to set up your environment to ensure you have the right tools for the job. You will install Visual Web Developer 2008 Express Edition, Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Express Edition and will finish up by creating a simple ASP.NET Page to ensure that everything is running correctly.

Chapter 2, "ASP.NET Basics," now takes you through creating a more useful ASP.NET page exploring the components that make up that page. Next you will see how the process of deployment is handled. Chapter 3, "VB and C# Programming Basics" looks at the two programming languages that are addressed in this book. Here you will not only look at the syntax that makes up the two languages, but also the object-oriented principles that they contain.

Chapter 4, "Constructing ASP.NET Web Pages," introduces you to the building blocks that are used to construct your Web forms, as well as introducing you to the concept of master pages which are a newer feature of ASP.NET. Chapter 5, "Building Web Applications," is the process of putting together a group of web forms, controls, and other elements to work together to achieve complex functionality.

Chapter 6, "Using the Validation Controls," gives you the ability to implement user input validation on both the client and server sides of your application via ready-made validation controls. You will also learn advanced validation using regular expressions and custom validators. Chapter 7, "Database Design and Development," will prepare you to work with databases in ASP.NET. Here, the essentials are covered for working with SQL Express Edition.

Chapter 8, "Speaking SQL," gets into the syntax of working with SQL, beginning with the basics and then getting into more advanced topics like stored procedures. Chapter 9, "ADO.NET," examines this technology that facilitates communication between your web application and the database server. This will move you further away from static to more dynamic applications.

Chapter 10, "Displaying Content Using Data Lists," examines the next logical step in working with data and ADO.NET. By using data lists you can present database data in a cleaner format as well as gaining a better understanding of data binding. Chapter 11, "Managing Content Using GridView and DetailsView," now takes on two more data presentation controls with the GridView which is used for displaying grids of data, and DetailsView which handling the details of a single grid item.

Chapter 12, "Advanced Data Access," explores some more advanced details that are involved in data access, retrieval, and manipulation. You will also look at working with the data source controls for direct data access. Chapter 13, "Security and User Authentication," shows you what you need to know to secure your web applications. You will look at the various models that are available as well as the membership model and login controls.

Chapter 14, "Working with Files and Email" now delves into accessing your servers file system. This includes the drives, files, and the network. You will also see how to send emails in ASP.NET. Chapter 15, "ASP.NET AJAX," finishes off the book by exploring the AJAX features that are built into ASP.NET. You will see the AJAX Control Toolkit and see how it can enhance exiting features.

Build Your Own ASP.NET 3.5 Website is a very comprehensive beginners guide to ASP.NET. It is well written and easy to understand. It covers the topics in a logical, orderly manner and gives an appropriate amount of background on each of the topics at hand.

Along with being good for the beginner, it is also appropriate for those who are coming from an alternative Web-based development platform and has the need to get up to speed in the ASP.NET platform. The book is filled with many tables and code examples that make for easier learning. My only complaint is the use of both C# and VB.NET. I say pick one. Personally I know both and can translate between the two easily. The other alternate is to have an edition of the most popular and offer a PDF version of the other either free or for a nominal fee.

Build Your Own ASP.NET 3.5 Website is for the developer who wants a more than basic look at ASP.NET. This book is for the inquisitive and industrious willing to put in the time and wanting to benefit from the experience. If you want a solid understanding of ASP.NET, then I recommend this book.

About T. Michael Testi

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

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