Friday, December 30, 2011

Book Review–Programming Microsoft ASP.NET 4

December 30, 2011 Posted by Jason , , 1 comment

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this title from O’Reilly

Programming Microsoft® ASP.NET 4

Over the Christmas break I finally had a chance to sit down and finish reading Programming Microsoft ASP.NET 4 by Dino Esposito. This has been on my bookshelf for quite some time (sorry O’Reilly blogger program…) for various reasons. Primarily, and despite protestations to the contrary, it feels as though webforms itself is teetering on the brink of irrelevance, if not oblivion and I naturally tend to gravitate towards titles related to newer and, perhaps, more relevant technologies. If you are like me, you probably want to know what is the point of reading this title, considering ASP.NET has been around for a decade and it looks to be loosing ground to it’s MVC sibling. Oddly enough, I’m more excited about the book after having read it than I was prior to reading it. There are two reasons why I suggest every (Microsoft-stack) web developer should read this title:

1. There is far more than ASP.NET programming here

There is no getting away from it - this is primarily a webforms based book. However, regardless of which flavor of ASP.NET (webforms vs MVC) you are using, this book contains a substantial amount of invaluable information which will directly benefit you. This isn’t a book for beginners – it assumes a pretty decent knowledge of .NET and web programming in general. It altogether bypasses the basics of creating your first ASP.NET solution and  instead uses its real-estate to discuss the ASP.NET runtime, interaction with IIS, security, caching, state management and a plethora of other concerns that are required by anyone developing a web application using Microsoft’s technologies.  There’s even a whole section devoted to client side programming, delving into AJAX, JSON and jQuery programming. There is definitely a significant amount of specialized information for the ASP.NET 4 crowd, but the book has plenty to offer everyone.

2. Dino Esposito reaaaally knows his stuff.

This is an extremely detailed, yet very accessible title. The author, Dino Esposito, is a heavyweight in the .NET world with a large number of MSDN magazine articles and books already under his belt. While he covers a myriad of advanced topics in depth, the book has the rare ability to keep the reader engaged. Esposito has the requisite background knowledge to explain not only how mechanisms work but how these mechanisms evolved during the lifetime of the .NET framework and ASP.NET.  At 992 pages the book is a monster, but it never feels overwhelming and in fact the content is varied enough to keep the reader interested. He also does a great job of predicting concerns readers will have, including a section dedicated to addressing my primary concern – why use ASP.NET 4 to begin with…


If you’re a webforms developer, you should absolutely own this title. It is extremely detail oriented and well written and gets into low level nitty-gritty details. It’s not for the feint of heart, but if you love developing web applications on the ASP.NET stack, you’ll love this book. If you, like me, are more enthused about MVC development I suggest you head to a bookstore and flick through the book. There were definitely some sections that I skimmed over, but there there was no lack of relevant content.  I hope and believe that you will find enough valuable information to make this a worthwhile read.