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Review Silverlight 1.0 Unleashed

Discussion in 'Articles, Reviews and Interviews' started by tripwire45, Nov 8, 2007.

  1. tripwire45
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    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    Author: Adam Nathan
    Format: Paperback, 272 pages
    Publisher: Sams; 1st edition (October 16, 2007)
    ISBN-10: 0672330075
    ISBN-13: 978-0672330070

    Review by James Pyles
    November 7, 2007

    Just in case you're interested, the book's back cover has this to say by way of a definition of Silverlight: "Silverlight is a lightweight but powerful plug-in for multiple web browsers on multiple operating systems that makes it easier than ever to create rich web-based content, applications, and controls". My last several reviews have been on books related to web development so while I'm on "a roll", I might was well tackle a Silverlight book. Let's see what this one has to say to me.

    The cover of this "Unleashed" book is a bright red-orange, but they all are. What happened when I opened the book up is that the color didn't stop. I reflexively reached for my sunglasses (no, not really since I keep them in my car, but that'll give you an idea of how vibrant the colors are inside the covers) but stopped myself, realizing that it was after 7 at night. The cover boldly announces that the contents are in "Full Color" and that certainly is evident and not without reason.

    Since Silverlight is all about presentation, it really helps to see that presentation represented in "living color" within the book pages rather than trying to stare at a black and white image and imagine what it would look like "in real life". Code samples, callout boxes, the works, are all in color. I didn't realize how much easier this would make a book to read, even if most of the content on a particular page was just text. Fortunately, the color scheme selected worked well and contrasted well against a white background (I've read books where it didn't and I almost went blind).

    The first couple of chapters are what you'd expect; a "Getting Started" chapter and then an introduction to the Extensible Application Markup Language (XAML). Beyond that, you are presented with a well organized list of the necessary building blocks starting with static content such as lines, text, and images and then moving on to living content such as animations, audio, and video. I like books written by developers because they tend to be (the good developers, anyway) organized. Unfortunately, a good many of them are also boring writers and it's fortunate that Adam Nathan isn't one of the latter kind.

    The code examples really make the book. It would be easy to give a good introduction and high level conceptual presentation of Silverlight and still miss out in showing how the thing really works. To understand how it works, you need to know how to code it. Nathan doesn't spare his code samples (also in living color) so you'll have plenty to work from. You can also download the code used in the book from informit.com (you'll have to buy the book to get the URL). Also, Silverlight itself is a free download from www.silverlight.net.

    Despite Silverlight's reputation for being web browser and operating system independent, the software platform is quite limited in terms of what it'll run on. In fact, if you plan to run it on Linux (like me), you'll have to use Moonlight instead. Limitations aside, both Silverlight 1.0 and the "Unleashed" book are impressive and I recommend that you give both of them a whirl.
     
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