The book Moving to ASP.NET: Web Development with VB.NET by Steve Harris and Rob Macdonald targets developers interested in moving to ASP.NET who have prior ASP or Visual Basic programming experience.
The authors begin with a very brief look at ASP.NET. A bulleted list of the numerous changes to ASP.NET from the classic ASP (versions 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 are collectively referred to as classic ASP) is included for reference. To explain the various concepts presented in the book, the authors developed a Web application for a fictitious company called HiFlyers. All necessary code is accessible via the publisher’s Web site.
Past the basics
Chapter 2 moves past the basics and details the development of a Web application using a Web form. Combining several screen captures and giving detailed step-by-step instructions, the authors guide the user in developing a sample application. A person with knowledge of HTML can easily skip the material in chapter 3. Both chapters 4 and 5 introduce basic and advanced Web control concepts. The four categories of Web controls presented are: intrinsic control, list control, rich control, and validation control. For example, a rich control can easily create a calendar that can be dropped in a Web form. The discussion on Web controls is thorough and easy to follow.
In chapter 6, the authors present mobile Web application development. To use this feature, the user needs the Microsoft Mobile Internet Toolkit (MMIT) add-on from Microsoft. The discussion points out that the Microsoft Mobile Explorer (MME) emulator may be used to test the forms. The authors are careful to point out that when using the emulator, the user should use the keypad navigational buttons rather than the mouse for selection.
Chapter 7 deals with using databases in an ASP.NET Web application. The Web access is facilitated using ADO.NET via datasets and is significantly different from the ADO that users might be familiar with in connection with VB. The examples presented in this chapter deal with extracting information from a database using simple queries and stored procedures. However, the examples show only very rudimentary features. In chapter 8, a more detailed analysis of data binding is presented, which will enable the development of more serious database applications. The examples presented in this chapter build on the same HiFlyer company.
XML falls short
Chapter 9 very briefly introduces XML. The discussion here is too sketchy to help the user in any significant way. In one long chapter (chapter 10) the authors discuss the Web application architecture. The material presented here appears complex, but several screen captures are provided, along with some code to navigate through; these help the user understand page processing requests, creation of custom modules and handlers, and deployment of applications.
Chapter 11 deals with Web application security using ASP.NET. The security aspects discussed include access control, process security, encryption support, and data integrity. The discussion here briefly touches on both server-side and client-side configurations. Moreover, state management is introduced and explained using page state, cookie state, session state, application state, and cache state.
In chapters 12 and 13 the authors present error management, using forms, query strings, framesets, scalability, state management, and load balancing. Chapter 14, on Web services, discusses the state management aspects and address scalability. This is a long chapter that discusses Web services standards such as Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP); Web Service Description Language (WSDL); and Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration (UDDI).
Extra information included
There are six appendixes in the book covering ASP basics, the .NET Framework, VB.NET language, ADO.NET, Common Language Runtime (CLR), and Datasets for database access. All the appendixes are brief, approximately 25 pages long. The book concludes with a very detailed index. There is no bibliography listed at the end of the book or in footnotes.
Is this book for you?
The book is well written and the authors have given several code samples throughout the book. The authors have also attempted to give several screen captures to make it easy for the reader to keep up. Unfortunately, the majority of the screen captures are so smudged that they tend to be useless. The book doesn’t come with a CD consisting of sample code, but a Web reference is provided in the introduction.
Overall, the book will be of interest for experienced VB programmers who want to tackle ASP.NET. As such, the discussion tends to be at a level higher than that of a beginner. The authors haven’t used the acronyms extensively and the flow of material is easy to follow. Since the book was written with the ready-to-market version of the software, the only updates needed are the service packs for the software.