Book Review: ASP.NET 3.5 for Dummies
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Published: 25 Jul 2008
In this review Anand looks at the latest book written by Ken Cox for ASP.NET 3.5 developers. Anand examines the topics that are covered in each part of the book and follows that with his views for improving the content.
by Anand Narayanaswamy
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I have been a big fan of the Dummies book series for the last 8 years. I can still remember the day when I picked up my first dummies book from a local book shop. I recently came to know that Ken Cox has been involved in writing a dummies title for ASP.NET 3.5 and was keenly waiting for its release to review it. I was quite impressed with the overall coverage of content when I quickly scanned through the Table of Contents. I found that the author has also covered advanced topics even though the book is oriented for beginners.

Inside the Book

The book begins with an overview of various technologies such as ASP.NET 3.5, AJAX, Silverlight, SQL Server and also provides a short introduction of various tools like MS Office, Expression Web, Blend, etc. Chapter 2 examines the installation of Visual Web Developer Express and also discusses tweaking of the IDE, working of Toolbar and Solution Explorer. The author demonstrates the creation of an ASP.NET site which is used to analyze various concepts throughout the book. The last two chapters of Part 1 introduces important controls such as GridView, FormView, Handling User Inputs and Events using TextBox, RadioButtonList, CheckBox, CheckBoxList and DropDownList controls.

Part 2 provides a comprehensive coverage of the usage and management of databases using SQLDataSource, LinqDataSource controls and RSS Feeds. The author has provided an exhaustive coverage of LINQ which I hope will help beginners to understand the real concept behind it. The chapters in part 3 enable developers to extend their knowledge of ASP.NET 3.5 which they have gained from the previous chapters. It provides a detailed coverage of the usage of style sheets, Master Pages, Skins, TreeView, Menu, BreadCrumb, SiteMap and Ajax Control Toolkit.

The author has also covered additional concepts such as web standards, page layouts and usability. You will also master the steps required to build your own ListView control, creation of Rollover effects, graphics and images. The part ends with a short coverage of Silverlight and also examines the steps required to display rich media content with MediaPlayer control in addition to the application of Flash in ASP.NET 3.5. I have not seen the coverage of the above mentioned advanced concepts in any other book. I would like to see more content on Silverlight in the next edition of the book as it is gaining popularity among .NET developers.

The penultimate part examines the usage and implementation of creating secure web applications with the help of various controls. The author has devoted a separate chapter to demonstrate the creation of a shopping cart with profiles in addition to the coverage of concepts related to validation. The author also maintains a website for the purpose of this book and it can be reached at

I must say that that the book covers all aspects of various concepts in a step-by-step way with the help of screenshots, highlighted source codes and tips at relevant places. I found that even though the layout of the book is similar to other Dummies titles, the font used to encapsulate source codes are not uniform as many code samples are given in a smaller font which I hope will not be too hard to read. The book also provides a cheat sheet card which lists the various Query Clauses and Aggregate Functions included with LINQ along with a short description and sample syntax.

The final part discusses the handling of errors and exceptions and also debugging related aspects including a short coverage of the implementation of tracing in an ASP.NET 3.5 application. You will also learn several tips to effectively deploy ASP.NET 3.5 applications. The author also provides a list of useful additional references, like names of various web sites, blogs maintained by eminent developers, etc, which I hope will help you enhance and update the skills you have gained from the content.


I must say that the author has taken a huge effort to present the complex topics in a simple way. I must point out that the book helps a beginner to learn ASP.NET 3.5 quickly and in a user-friendly manner. I very much liked the style of presentation and highly recommend the book for all level of developers.

About the Book


ASP.NET 3.5 for Dummies



Ken Cox










US $29.99




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