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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
To build better web applications (and services), use better tools. Among the many new web development tools Microsoft has introduced, two stand out: ASP.NET and ADO.NET. Each, alone, offers extraordinary power (and a not-insignificant learning curve). Used together, they really show their stuff -- and they radically change the way you build web solutions. Some developers will be left behind. Those who forge ahead are likely to earn huge payoffs -- in efficiency, in application performance, and in the breadth of problems they can solve.
Dino Esposito, who writes both MSDN Magazine's "Cutting Edge" column and the "Diving into Data Access" column for MSDN Voices, has authored an exceptionally useful guide to ASP.NET and ADO.NET for experienced developers. Esposito focuses heavily on data access and data reporting, the heart of contemporary web development. He illuminates .NET's new data-bound controls and data management options as never before.
This isn't a basic tutorial, nor is it a programmer's reference. Rather, Esposito identifies many of the key issues developers will encounter, and presents solutions -- complete with plenty of code. Along the way, he identifies many of the "big wins" ASP.NET and ADO.NET can offer experienced programmers. He also answers dozens of the questions developers have been asking about these technologies ("What's the difference between custom controls and user controls, and when do I use each?" "What's the best technique for caching data on my server?" "Can I save any of my existing ADO code?" "I really liked OLE DB providers; why'd Microsoft go ahead and change them?")
Esposito begins with an in-depth look at .NET's immensely versatile data-bound web controls. These respond to the development community's desperate need for ways to automate (or partially automate) the association of rows of data with graphical HTML elements such as dropdown lists or tables). Next, he introduces pageable data grids, and the DataGrid control -- ASP.NET's control of choice for high-functionality data reporting.
DataGrid controls give you powerful customization capabilities; HTML templates take customization even further. You'll learn how to design a column's contents to closely reflect the meaning and structure of your data; then combine HTML and server controls to design custom layouts.
Esposito starts Part II by focusing on code reuse, and showing how to go from yesterday's ASP "spaghetti code" to ASP.NET's "lasagna code" -- carefully organized, layered, and far more appetizing. For instance, he introduces ASP.NET's new code-behind technique, which simplify the way you manage complex web projects by letting you store directives and page layout in one ASPX file while you store the code that drives the page in a separate file. (Web designers work on the files they're comfortable with; programmers work on the files they're comfortable with. What a concept.)
Next, he takes a closer look at data access and reporting -- returning to the DataGrid control to show you how to squeeze even more functionality out of it than you imagined was there. There's a full chapter on ADO.NET techniques for disconnected web application development (the concept isn't new, but ADO.NET was designed from the outset for n-tier environments, and ADO wasn't.)
You'll find detailed chapters on interoperability, on ASP.NET techniques for web services development, and finally, on expositing data to .NET applications. Here, Esposito covers four approaches, from building .NET classes around made-to-measure XML schema, to writing .NET data providers. As you'd expect, each option is presented with detailed code examples.
Speaking of code, it's all in Microsoft's new C# language. But if you're sticking with VB, Visual Basic.NET equivalents for many of the book's code samples can be found on the CD-ROM (along with a complete electronic copy of the book). FYI, the code is written for ".NET Release Candidate 3." Until now, most .NET books have been written for Beta 2 (or, worse, Beta 1). This one's so close to the final 1.0 .NET release, you can taste it. If you want to get serious results with ASP.NET and ADO.NET, this book delivers. (Bill Camarda)
Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer with nearly 20 years' experience in helping technology companies deploy and market advanced software, computing, and networking products and services. He served for nearly ten years as vice president of a New Jerseybased marketing company, where he supervised a wide range of graphics and web design projects. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks For Dummies®, Second Edition.