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Brian Scarbeau Insights from a seasoned Computer Science Trainer

Last week, I purchased the new Wrox Publisher ASP.NET book called Professional ASP.NET 2.0 by Bill Evjen, Scott Hanselman, Farhan Muhammad, S. Srinivasa Sivakumar, Devin Rader. The book was mentioned on Brian Goldfarb’s blog.

Brian works with ASP.NET at Microsoft Corporation and he’s bright and super energetic. I’ve heard him talk on a couple of occasions and more recently heard him on a webcast that he did on stage with Steve Balmer at the VS Studio event in San Francisco. A couple of years ago, I was privileged to have Brian sit in my class when I was teaching ASP.NET to high school teachers at Seattle College in Seattle, WA.

Now, back to the book. My first impression when I received the book was wow this is a heavy book(3.6 lbs) that has 1,253 pages and 29 chapters. When am I ever going to have time to read it? Well, this was Thanksgiving week so I knew I could squeeze the time in between visits from my daughter who’s home for the break and from visits to the store to buy Christmas presents with my wife. I was quite surprised that I’ve read 9 chapters in a week and even had time to play around with some of the chapter code.

The book is an easy read and comes with source code examples in VB and C# for each chapter. You can download the source code from the wrox site.

The book starts off immediately by giving a history of ASP and then jumps right into the goals of this new product which was productivity. Dotnetnuke was mentioned on page 10 as an open source framework. The authors also discussed the popularity of I Buy Spy which was a free download from asp.net site and used for a web store or portal.

There was an introduction to some of the features of 2.0 such as: the new gridview server control, MMC-Microsoft Management Control which is used for web application administration, performance enhancements, membership and role management, personalization, site navigation control, new compilation system, page framework, master pages, themes, more sever controls and a discussion of the new IDE to build pages.

Chapter 2 reviews the Visual Studio 2005 IDE. I was quite interested in learning about smart tags, the new wizards available and where to find help when needed. If you’re familiar with the older version of Visual Studio then this chapter will be a quick read.

Chapter 3 is on Application and Page Frameworks. What I like as a classroom teacher is that you don’t need to install IIs to run web pages with ASP.NET 2.0 with Visual Studio 2005 because it has a built in web server called Cassini which I’ve used in the past with Webmatrix.  I also learned about the two ways to structure code with ASP.NET 2.0. You can use the inline method for code where all the code is contained on your aspx page or you can choose the code behind method which allows for code separation of the page’s business logic from its presentation logic. The new .NET Framework brings these change options to ASP.NET 2.0 for the developer. Further discussion on these options are covered in the chapter to further explore. The second part of the chapter reviews the many page directives that are available to use. Pages 56 – 59 reviews the attribute and description of each. Next, @Master directives which are similar to page directives are discussed.  There’s discussion on page events, dealing with postbacks and a new feature which I’m sure will benefit many developers cross page posting. Knowledge of postback is a must to use this feature. Finally, location of ASP.NET files finishes the chapter.

The next four chapters will review all of the sever controls that are available with ASP.NET 2.0. There are HTML and Web Server controls to use.  Once again, the reader will find many code examples and screen shots to help learn how these controls will work. These chapters cover numerous controls and I’m sure these pages will get dog eared as I go back and re-read the chapters.

I was quite interested in learning about Master Pages, Themes and Skins. This material was covered in the last two chapters that I read which was Chapters 8 and 9.

Chapter 8 covers Master Pages and how you can create a template and use it on all your pages. It reminded me of a Slide Master that can be used in Powerpoint. You can create the master page very easily in the design mode by just dragging and dropping what you want on the screen or you can go to code view which is the default of the IDE and just key in what you want to have on your page. My experience with dotnetnuke helped me learn these chapters faster especially with creating containers to use on pages and then with themes and skins.

Applying themes is just a quick line command Theme=”GreenGrass” after the Page Language command. You have the opportunity to put a theme on a page or the complete site. A skin is a definition of styles applied to sever controls. You need to have a theme folder which will have the skin file, css file and images that you plan on using. Knowledge of CSS is a must for you to be good at skinning.  There are several options to use skins with ASP.NET and experimentation is the key for working with them.

Needless to say, I’ve been busy reading and playing with code and learning of course.  I have several chapters more to review to finish this book and I’ll make the time.

So, if you need a good book to help you learn ASP.NET 2.0 then I suggest taking a look at this book Thanks Brian Goldfarb for the tip!  Educators can get a free evaluation of the book if you visit the wrox site. Good luck!

Posted on Saturday, November 26, 2005 3:57 PM Teaching with ASP.NET | Back to top

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