Andrej Tozon's blog

In the Attic


Microsoft Silverlight 4 Data and Service Cookbook [Review]

It’s been a while since Silverlight 4 was released by Microsoft and while we’re patiently waiting for a few other books to be released, I would definitely recommend the "Microsoft Silverlight 4 Data and Service Cookbook” by Gill Cleeren and Kevin Dockx. It’s not an advanced book on Silverlight, nor is it a reference book, it’s compilation of useful, hands-on recipes to get you started on data scenarios using Silverlight 4. If you’re new to Silverlight, you’ll definitely appreciate the way this book is written: a short description of a problem will guide you through the provided code example and explanation of what and why, usually followed by the “There’s more…” section - and that’s the part that will be appreciated even by more advanced Silverlight developers, as it would reveal some hidden tricks and not-so-known secrets of Silverlight framework’s workings. As scenarios go, those seem to cover basic to intermediate type of problems, with advanced problems left out, which is kind of understandable, but at certain points in the book I still wished the authors would write more about an alternative implementation(s) of a solution, or point me to some (online) resource for further reading.

The book covers Silverlight data scenarios, starting with the essentials like Data Binding, moving its way through explaining the data controls and finally settle on explaining the ways Silverlight could talk to the data server through various services. Special chapters are dedicated to WCF RIA Services and converting existing applications to use Silverlight, the latter explaining a few of Microsoft technologies and APIs that are not directly associated to Silverlight, but which Silverlight applications could benefit a lot from by using them.

If you’re new to Silverlight and want to develop Line-of-Business applications, this book is definitely for you as it will get you started immediately and give you enough information to build on the provided code examples for yourself. If you’re an advanced Silverlight user, I think there are some high points in this book that will gain you additional knowledge on the subject, but be prepared to read a lot of code/XAML listings which you probably already know how they work and the problems they solve.

All in all, the “Microsoft Silverlight 4 Data and Service Cookbook” is a great Silverlight book to have – it’s available in print or digital edition (plus all code examples are available for download).