Book Review: A First Look at ASP.NET v. 2.0
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Published: 01 Dec 2003
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An in-depth review of "A First Look at ASP.NET v2.0" published by Addison Wesley, authored by Alex Homer, Dave Sussman, and Rob Howard. Foreword by Scott Guthrie. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this new title from the folks at Addison-Wesley...
by Robert Chartier
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Chapters 1 through 5

I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this new title from the folks at Addison-Wesley, not only does it open with Scott Guthrie’s foreword but includes a chapter on Caching by Rob Howard and features the exceptional writing talents of Alex Homer and Dave Sussman.  At first glance I noticed that this book has something for everyone, include those few of us that attended many of the early previews of the technology on Microsoft Campus or at PDC.


The book starts off with Scott’s usual summary of everything that is new.  He is always the fortunate one that gets to wow the pants off of everyone with the cool features that are coming, this book was no exception.  In just a few pages Scott outlines what to expect from the rest of the book, and more importantly what we can expect from the next major release of ASP.NET. 


Once we blur through Scotts summary, and then a slightly more detailed summary (redundant?) we jump right into an introduction to Visual Studio .NET (VS.NET) and VS.NET Whidbey. 


NOTE: “Whidbey” is the code name for all of the V2 bits, including ASP.NET v2, and VS.NET, the next major release.


I personally don’t like the fact that they started the book with their IDE product.  I got the book because I want too see ASP.NET not because I need to be convinced that I need to buy their IDE.  There are a few little bits of gold in this first chapter though.  Stuff like the new supported folders (code, themes, etc), and how to pre-compile applications (yes, pre-compile web applications). 


Chapters 3 and 4 are a very extensive look at some of the new Data Source controls and how to bind with them.  I love how the author presented the material for these chapters from all angles.  Mobility, code-free data binding, sorting, paging, event handling, grid and details views and of course some of the basic syntax that we all use (and sometimes forget) are all covered in this chapter.  Wouldn’t it nice to have one of those pull-out quick reference cards?  I could have done without most of the actual design time properties and their full explanation; I just can’t see myself, let alone anyone else, finding this very useful for a pre-beta technology which could change rendering the content useless.  For this stuff I would use either intellisense, or the online help.


Next we move onto Chapter 5, Master Pages and navigation. The authors start out with some very simple code showing you the bare bones of how to implement Master Pages.  Very nicely laid out, and I like the fact that nothing here is tied to VS.NET (show me the code!).  They move onto more complex situations where they demonstrate how to actually nest your Master pages.  We see how to programmatically access the master of the current page, how to selectively use master pages based on browser capabilities, and even how to apply a master page to the entire site by using the .config files.  Lastly they discuss Navigation features, including some new features dealing with Site Maps and such.

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