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Microsoft Silverlight 4 Step by Step, First Edition
Author(s): Laurence Moroney
Published: 2010, ISBN: 978-0-7356-3887-7, pages: 336
Publisher (more . . .)Microsoft Press available via O'Reilly




 Four out of Five Stars
  Reviewed: September, 2011
  Reviewer: Fred Barga
       This book was based upon an early release of Microsoft SilverLight 4.0. It is a well written book and follows the standards of the publisher. The book is intended to expose the reader to new areas in each of the chapters. The intent is to present procedures required to build, deploy, and maintain a Silverlight 4 application.

     Considering the magnitude of Silverlight, this book is only capable of taking a good basic approach to understanding the tool. Each of the chapters focus on a basic part of the tool and walks the reader through each section.

     When the book starts it assumes that the reader does not know anything about Silverlight and helps the reader setup the environment to develop in SilverLight using Visual Web Developer Express. If a user already has a version of Visual Studio with SilverLight installed the book does not address any of the setup needs for that environment. The Express version of Visual Studio is similar to the other versions so the reader should not have any difficulties using what they have already installed. If the reader does not already have any of the tools installed the book does a good job helping the reader to install the software needed in the book.

     The book walked through the basic controls used in a SilverLight UI. For a new user to SilverLight the book provides an excellent overview of the common SilverLight controls and how to use them. If the reader is already familiar with Microsoft ASP.NET web form generation they will be at home in these chapters -- not that this is the same process used with ASP.NET Web forms, but to setup the UI using SilverLight controls follows the same process and was easy to understand.

     The Microsoft Deep Zoom tool was defined. This tool is a free download and the book walks the reader through the process to download and install it. The book does a good job on basic use of the Deep Zoom tool, but I found that chapter does not make it clear how to use the final set of images. This chapter should include much more information on Deep Zoom to be beneficial to the reader. Other than getting help to get the tool installed and a basic exercise this chapter could be skipped.

     The MediaElement was covered along with Media, WebCam, and Videos. The simpler aspects of these items are covered well explaining the adding of control features, reading of markers, and Connecting to the WebCam on a PC.

     XAML and animation is addressed. Dealing with XAML and animation is a big part of using SilverLight and this book only gives one chapter to it. The book touches on some of the basics of animation and using the story board. It will give the user an overview of modifying XAML for these effects. In the final pages of the chapter the Expression Blend tool finally is mentioned, where more coverage could have been helpful.

     Using SilverLight applications in a browser and using the out-of-browser option were explained with a good overview of working in these two environments.

     Working with Network Services is also addressed in detail. The author walks the reader through the creation and consumption of network services. The book does a good job of the setup of a basic network connect, the generation of XML data, and using LINQ to XML.

     Windows Phone Development is addressed in a great deal of detail. For someone who wants to be introduced to Windows Phone application devolvement, this is a good starting point. SilverLight is a major part of Windows Phone applications and the author provides a detailed overview of developing these applications.

     This book is a good introduction to SilverLight 4. I highly recommend it to anyone looking to get started working with Visual Studio and SilverLight 4. The book does have some weaknesses and omissions, as expressed above, that would have made it better; however, for the intended scope of this book, I thought the author did a very good job.

Fred Barga is an experienced C# ASP.NET developer with over 5 years .NET experience.  He has MCTS certifications in 2.0 and 3.5 Web Applications development and currently working with .NET Framework 4.0.  He is a strong supporter of Visual Studio User Groups and their impact in the rapidly changing .NET development environment.
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