Maybe you’ve heard of this Silverlight thing. There’ve been 2,300 new Microsoft technologies introduced this year but Silverlight seems like it might be important. You are a busy, experienced business application developer with limited time. You demand substance but there’s no way you’re going to wade through 800 pages of how to build custom flashy controls. You won’t tolerate marketecture; you don’t want the “Silverlight Programmers Bible” either.
You should snag a copy of “Silverlight 3 Jumpstart” by Microsoft MVP and Regional Director David Yack. At a slim 209 pages you can blaze through it on a roundtrip flight to Redmond just like I did. You won’t learn Silverlight in depth. But you will get a soup-to-nuts view of what building a business application in Silverlight is really like. All of the essential mechanics are there.
- How Silverlight compares to alternative client technologies (ASP, WinForms, WPF, Flash/Flex/Air)
- Development tools – got Visual Studio? not much more is absolutely required
- “Hello, Silverlight” – of course
- Hosting a Silverlight app – pretty easy stuff
- Basic screen layout with XAML and visual controls
- Data binding controls to data – because that’s our bread and butter
- Debugging – about time someone talked about that
- Making it look decent with styling - think CSS
- SketchFlow intro – executable sketches to win your client’s confidence
- Plumbing (aka, Application Architecture) – so you don’t reinvent every wheel
David is steadfast and clear about his purpose: to give you a firm grasp of what is involved in Silverlight development.
He shoves to the side everything that would get in the way. You already know it gets more complicated than “that” … whatever “that” happens to be. “Rough road ahead” signs are sufficient for the nonce; no need for the bumpy ride right now.
When it comes to getting data into and out of your application, I’m personally thrilled to report that David devotes pages [181 - 184] to our DevForce Silverlight product; full disclosure: I helped him with those four pages. Nearby you can read about the other “Business Application Frameworks”: CSLA, RIA Services, and roll-your-own.
Do yourself a huge favor: don’t roll-your-own; I hope you see why when you look at all the challenging ground these “frameworks” cover.
The very nature of this book requires that it be early to market. It’s not going to be a “timeless classic” nor is that its intention. This is one of the first … if not the first … Silverlight 3 books out there.
The haste shows. There are grammar and spelling mistakes. Chapter 10 was clearly intended to be Chapter 1 as it makes forward references to chapters that you’ve already read. That’s mildly disappointing. Don’t let this undermine your faith in the material; the book is accurate in all important respects relevant to your purpose: to learn what Silverlight development is like and whether it might be for you.
The book is affordably priced at $30 for print, $20 as an e-book; if you use the discount code for my blog (“WardBlog”), the e-book is only $15. The e-book arrives as a PDF and (unlike many technical books) is perfectly readable on your laptop or Kindle or other e-book reader.
Silverlight is a tremendous business application delivery vehicle and a heck of a lot more productive than any other web technology out there. Silverlight Jumpstart will show you why.