Nowadays, many web developers have implemented AJAX in their web applications. This enables them to create dynamic, rich web sites. There are numerous resources available on the web for learning ASP.NET 3.5 AJAX, but it is always nice to refer to a book as and when required. In his latest book, ASP.NET 3.5 AJAX Unleashed, Robert Foster examines the relevant concepts in less than 300 pages, which I think is excellent and is rarely achieved by authors. It is hard to write short and crispy content, especially on ASP.NET related concepts, but Robert has worked really well to bring out a quality book for budding developers very effectively. The book is mainly divided into three parts including two appendixes.
Inside the Book
The chapters in part 1 provide a brief overview about AJAX and introduce the controls shipped with Visual Studio. This section also provides a sneak preview of the AJAX Control Toolkit. The author has provided complete source code along with relevant screenshots. Part 2 consists of the core chapters which help you learn ASP.NET AJAX 3.5 starting from the basics. While chapter 3 examines the ScriptManager and ScriptManagerProxy controls, Chapter 4 provides nice coverage of various namespaces such as Sys, Sys.Net, Sys.Serialization, Sys.UI, etc.
Chapters 5 and 6 help you to learn about the UpdatePanel, Timer controls, and also some of the advanced techniques associated with the ASP.NET AJAX PageRequestManager object. Chapter 7 provides detailed coverage of various controls included with the AJAX Control Toolkit with the help of a practical example. The author also examines the role of Expression Web in the development of AJAX applications. I think this chapter will be very useful for beginners. The book then delves deeply into the steps involved in the development of an Extender Control with the help of both server and client side controls.
A key feature of the book is that the author has provided detailed analysis in a lucid style along with each bit of source code. Chapter 9 examines the role of SharePoint 2007 in the development of AJAX based applications. It also includes a practical example which illustrates the development of SharePoint WebParts powered by AJAX.
You should be familiar with Gadgets if you work with the Windows Vista operating system, and the final chapter examines the creation of vista sidebar gadgets with the help of AJAX. It includes a detailed explanation of each step starting with the creation of web service and ending with testing the gadget. I would prefer to see the screenshots in color in the next edition of the book.
The book also includes two appendixes which provide a brief overview of expression web and also examine the steps required to deploy .NET 3.5 as a SharePoint feature. I expected a little bit more advanced content especially in the areas of LINQ. It would be helpful if the author had devoted a chapter to discuss the implementation of an AJAX based billing solution as a mini project.
The book will be useful for beginners and intermediates and I would recommend it for those developers who would like to learn ASP.NET 3.5 AJAX quickly. This book can also be used by those developers who are averse to reading bulky books. The author has done a terrific job of restricting the content in less than 300 pages and I must say that the book is an ideal supplement for online resources.