Review: Microsoft Silverlight 4 Data and Services Cookbook

Microsoft Silverlight 4 Data and Services Cookbook

In my experience with explaining and demonstrating technology, I have not been in the practice of recommending books that are tied to a specific version of a specific technology.  The obvious problem is that once the next version of the technology comes out, much of the book is obsolete and suitable for garage sales.  When the publisher sent me a free copy of Microsoft Silverlight 4 Data and Services Cookbook to review, I was pleasantly surprised at the completeness and usefulness of the book.  Because of the additive nature of the Silverlight framework, I expect this book to be relevant event after Silverlight 4 is succeeded by subsequent versions.

In addition to its ability present high-quality media experiences, Silverlight is a great platform for creating rich interactive applications (RIAs).  This book does a great job of covering the complex topics of data binding, data forms, and communicating with web services.  Like the title implies, the content is organized like a cookbook into recipes, but it doesn’t force the metaphor – which is much appreciated.  The recipes, like “Using duplex communication” and “Persisting data to and reading data from the Windows Azure cloud” all have a regular structure with the following sections:

  • Getting ready
  • How to do it…
  • How it works…
  • There’s more…
  • See also

The ample pictures of both the Visual Studio 2010 GUI and running Silverlight applications augment the many code samples.  The section that I have appreciated the most has been the chapter on “Talking to WCF RIA Services” as I am working on developing a better understanding of it. 

Now that the summer is here, it’s a great time to pick up a book or two to read when you’re away from your computer.  If you are building or want to build applications with Silverlight, I highly recommend this book and suggest that you get a copy for your summer reading.

Comments (1)

  1. sandy says:

    I'm 2/3rds through the book and agree with you.  It holds a great deal of information – it's a very "dense" book.  The multiple chapters on web services, REST, and RIA Services are almost overwhelming (in a good way).  The book covers the datagrid and dataform very deeply, showing where to hook into the events and the templates.

    The data services ability of Silverlight is what is going to push it far past Flash and the javascript frameworks.  I have yet to see any that match SL, including GWT – though Ext JS gets a few points.  The ability to build data entry apps as rapidly as you can in Access is the big draw here, and SL is very close to that ease of development.  

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