Review: ASP.NET Data Presentation Controls Essentials
 
Published: 10 Mar 2008
Abstract
In this article, Brendan reviews the book Joydip Kanjilal has written with Packt Publishing. The book covers the Data Presentation Controls available in ASP.NET 2.0 as well as a small bit of mention of the new technology available in the 3.5 version.
by Brendan Enrick
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Introduction

This lightweight book written by Joydip Kanjilal focuses on how to use the various data presentation controls available in ASP.NET 2.0. In it he explains how to use these controls, as well as, how the controls differ from previous versions. As a short added bonus at the end of the book, you will find a chapter on LINQ and the new ASP.NET 3.5 data presentation controls.

http://www.packtpub.com/asp-net-data-presentation-controls/book
Inside The Book

The book begins with an introductory chapter which explains only the basics of how one databinds controls. He introduces the data source controls which can be used for the databinding. Some common classes which are used throughout the book are introduced in this chapter. The screenshots and code snippets scattered throughout the first chapter and the rest of the book make it very easy to follow along with the steps explained in the text. There are so many screenshots and code snippets it feels like there is not much text in the chapter.

Because of the similarities between the different list controls in ASP.NET, the second chapter lumps them all together. In this short chapter you will learn how to use the list controls. This chapter feels like a collection of "How to" examples. It mentions a task you might need to perform and it explains how to perform the task using examples. In this chapter I was slightly bothered by some of the sections not explaining all the main circumstances. For example, when it explains how to remove items from each of the list controls it explains how to remove all of the items or one of the items based on an index. It does not, however, explain how to remove based on a value. Overall, I thought the chapter was well written. Small things such as this are easily found using Google.

The third, forth, and fifth chapters cover Repeaters, DataLists, and DataGrids. These three chapters naturally flow well together because the controls about which they are written are often used for the same purposes. In many situations software developers are able to use these controls to create solutions. In these chapters, Joydip explains how to handle the basics which are needed when using these data presentation controls. He shows how to implement paging, sorting, and filtering of data using these controls. He also shows how to perform data manipulation with them: inserting, editing, and deleting data.

Chapters six and seven are collectively one long topic, the view controls. These two chapters are part one and part two of the view section of the book. The GridView, being a much more advanced data presentation control, gets a great deal more explanation than the other views. In the first chapter, Joydip explains a lot of the same things he has in the past few chapters, like paging, sorting, filtering, inserting, updating, etc. One of my personal favorite things to do with a GridView is also explained- showing hierarchical data. Considering the amount of data stored in a relational way, it is quite important to be able to display this relational data hierarchically. The author made sure to include one very useful piece of information in this chapter, the ability to export a GridView to Microsoft Excel.

The second part explains how to use the DetailsView, FormView, and TreeView controls. Each of these is far less advanced than the GridView which is how all three can be covered in one chapter. The TreeView examples used in the chapter explain pretty well how to work with the TreeView. It is probably one of the most interesting controls available simply because of the interest interface it allows.

In the last pages of the book the ASP.NET 3.5 topics are covered. There is a brief introduction to using LINQ. The author does not go into depth on using LINQ, but simply shows the basics. It seems to mostly just be a teaser. I expect for the next version of this book there will be a full-blown chapter on using LINQ. The rest of the chapter is also brief introductions to some of the data presentation controls available in ASP.NET 3.5. For the next edition of this book, I am sure that Joydip will have developed the sections on LINQ, ListView, and DataPager much more thoroughly.

Who Should Buy

This book is written at a level where the reader needs to have a basic understanding of how ASP.NET works. It is not for someone who is completely new to ASP.NET. This book is lightweight and as such is easy to navigate. That being said, I would recommend against anyone reasonably experienced in ASP.NET buying this book. This is definitely a book for beginners. Someone just learning ASP.NET and getting ready to start presenting data using ASP.NET controls.

Conclusion

Overall, it is a well written book. At times it feels like it is just repeating the same thing it said in a previous chapter, but this type of book leads to that. Since a lot of the controls will use the same basic techniques it feels a bit redundant sometimes, but that same redundancy makes it easier to use the book as a reference later. If the book were not redundant one could reference five chapters to find how to perform one task.

About the Book

Title

ASP.NET Data Presentation Controls Essentials

Author

Joydip Kanjilal

Publisher

Packt Publishing

Pages

250

Price

US $39.99

Rating

****

Related URL

http://www.packtpub.com/asp-net-data-presentation-controls/book

 



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