Geeks With Blogs

Michael Crump Microsoft MVP, INETA Community Champion and XAML Advocate.

With Pete's guidance, it will feel like you have that super-smart coworker in your cubicle at all times.

A new Silverlight 4 book is coming out on September 7th and I had a chance to review it before it hits shelves. After reading the book and some chapters multiple times, I can tell you that this is the best book for a developer wanting to learn Silverlight 4. If you are wondering if you should buy the book or not then let me answer that right now. YES. I would definitely recommend this book to all levels of Silverlight Developers (from newbie’s to pro’s).

I will start with the TOC and provide a brief write-up of what the chapter is about and my thoughts on the material. 

1. Introducing Silverlight – Normally the first chapter of a programming book is boring, this one is not. Pete helps you setup your dev environment but finishes up with a “Hello World” that uses Linq to XML, Lambda Expressions and anonymous delegates. Yes, you heard me right. No more add a button and produce a MessageBox. This really helps set the tone that this book is serious business.
2. Core XAML – This chapter lays out the foundation of Silverlight/WPF – Xaml. Pete shows you how to walk through the visual trees to understanding dependency properties. I will admit that this chapter kicked my butt, and I write a lot of XAML. This deep understanding of the core reminded me of John Skeet’s C# in Depth series. Pete finishes this chapter with some nice tools for working with Xaml. If you want more tools then check out the list I created.
3. The application model and the plug-In – Another in-depth explanation of how the Silverlight plug-in and startup works. This is the kind of information that would have really helped me with a Silverlight project I just completed.
4. Integrating with the browser – This chapter is mainly about the HTML Dom from Silverlight and hosting HTML in Silverlight.
5. Integrating with the desktop – This chapter includes a mixture of things from: Running Silverlight out of browser, to elevated trust, COM, notification toast and isolated storage. One of the cool things that Pete shows you how to do is create an Excel worksheet through the COM Interop using elevated trust. The other piece that I enjoyed was creating a file quote bar associated with a user’s isolated storage. Simply cool stuff.
6. Rendering, layout and transforming – This chapter covers 2D transformations as well as 3D plane and matrix projection.
7. Panels – Covers the major panels like Grid, StackPanel and Canvas. Pay special attention to the Grid as that is the default for a Silverlight application. I’d recommend reading this chapter more than once.
8. Human input – This chapter is about capturing information from the keyboard and mouse. Pete also goes into multi-touch and ink drawings. I found the multi-touch section awesome because I am about to begin a project using it.
9. Text – Mainly about the TextBlock, TextBox and RichTextBox. Pete goes into international text which would have really helped me in some of my first world-wide apps.
10. Controls and UserControls – This chapter goes into the Button, CheckBox, ListBox and more controls.
11. Binding – In my humble opinion, one of the best chapters because I hate code-behind when it should be in XAML. Give this one a read more than once if you do not understand binding.
12. Data controls: The Datagrid & Dataform – Chapter title says it all. I believe the Datagrid is one of the most important controls if you write business applications. The Dataform would come in very close as well.
13. Input validation – Many different ways to validate data and it even covers creating your own custom validators.
14. Networking and communications – From connecting to data sources to services. This chapter is great for those that need a refresher on just how powerful Silverlight really is.
15. Navigation and dialogs – All about navigating pages and provided dialogs and pop-ups using ChildWindows.
16. Structuring and testing with MVVM/ ViewModel pattern – One of my favorite chapters. Pete provides the MVVM pattern without using any toolkits like MVVM Lite. I found this a great way for a beginner to learn the pattern. I remember reading Adam Nathan’s article on MSDN and saying WHAT?!? Pete lays it out in an easy to ready format.
17. WCF RIA services – Very important for business and other data-oriented application. He walks you step-by-step though using the Business Application template.
18. Graphics and effects – All about vector graphics. It even details if you want to build your own custom shader.
19. Printing – New to Silverlight 4 is printing. Pete shows you how to integrate this into your business application.
20. Displaying and capturing media – IIS Smooth Streaming, webcam and microphone API.
21. Working with Bitmap images – Working with bitmap images, creating images on the fly and Deep Zoom. I really enjoyed the section on Deep Zoom even though I cannot find a reason to do it.
22. Animation and behaviors – Creating StoryBoards by hand. Sounds pretty difficult but Pete pulls it off. I would typically fire up Blend 4 for this.
23. Resources, styles and control templates – This chapter covers using application resource, control styling and the Visual State Manager.
24. Creating panels and controls – Teaches you how to create custom controls and layout panels.
25. The install experiences and pre-loaders – Great chapter for handling the “Silverlight not installed” logo and creating a custom splash screen unique to your customer.

Overall this is the most in-depth book you can buy for Silverlight 4. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn how to develop with Silverlight 4.

If you are still on the fence then download the following chapters and see for yourself:

Don’t forget to follow Pete on Twitter and you might as well start following me too.

Posted on Saturday, September 4, 2010 2:12 PM Silverlight | Back to top

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