Title: Microsoft Silverlight 5 Data and Services Cookbook
Author : Gill Cleeren, Kevin Dockx
Packt Publishing April 2010
Buy/Pre-Order from Packt
Microsoft Silverlight 5 Data and Services Cookbook
Whilst Silverlight seems to be the poor relation at Microsoft, there's still plenty of Silverlight applications out there,
and people building business applications on this underrated technology. I've personally paid a price for this change in
strategy, and have turned my attention to other technologies.
It was a nice surprise though to be asked to review an e-book of the Packt title Silverlight 5 Data and Services cookbook.
XAML does indeed live on in Windows 8 and Windows Phone, and most of the information in the book, will be valuable in these
emerging app markets.
Cookbooks take a different form to general tech titles, opting to focus on many self contained 'recipies' targeting
specific areas of the product.
Unlike with most publisher books I review, this title is an e-Book, so I'll be unable to give it away at.
The first chapter kicks us off with the nuts and bolts of Silverlight, explaining the archictecture, project structure,
integration with blend and deployment of the XAP package, including configuration of IIS and the creation of the first
services based Silverlight application. The e-Book has colour illustrations, the page layout is clean and easy to read.
In chapter 2 we look at DataBinding, why it's useful and the mechanics of how it works. Binding is demonstrated in XAML and
also in Code, before moving on to UI-2-UI or element to element binding. It's nice how each sample highlights which version
of Silverlight the recipe covers. There's also a 'Theres More' section highlighting some additional info around the
feature. It also covers PropertyChanged, which allows the UI to be notified of changes, and the different modes of
databinding. In Silverlight 5 (and 4 after the SL5 tools have been installed) you can debug XAML which is a really useful
feature. the chapter rounds off with Blend and it's databinding, along with the data generation feature of Blend.
Advanced DataBinding is the topic of chapter 3, and starts of with converters, something that most WPF/Silverlight
developers hit early on. It also covers the newest features of converters including TargetNullValue, StringFormat and
FallBackValue. We then move onto Validation, before rounding off with Data Templates, Silverlight 5's Implicit Data
Templates and custom markup extensions. It also covers CollectionChanged notifications, but I'd have liked to see an
example of parent objects being notified when a property of the child object had changed, not just that the collection had
This chapter highlights the DataGrid, a powerful control and covers, inserting, deleting, paging, sorting, grouping, custom
columns and master detail, add in validation, and you'll understand why I called it powerful!
Silverlight has the capacity to work offline, and coupled with Isolated Storage, makes it a great lightweight business
application development platform. Chapter 5 focuses on Isolated storage; reading and writing, sharing between Silverlight
applications, along with coverage of the Sterling Database.
Something I felt was missing in the last version of this cookbook was MVVM. So it was great to see a chapter devoted to the
Model-View-ViewModel pattern. Not only that, the chapter also has coverage of MVVM Lite by Laurent Bugnion. it also covers
MEF - Managed Extensibility Framework, something that's built into Silverlight and works well with MVVM. Commanding was
also something lacking in the last edition, another welcome addition to this version.
Services, services, services, is the core of chapter 7, reading, cross domain, saving, XML, RSS, interaction with Windows
Azure and also using sockets. A good large solid chapter, complete with many samples.
If you've not had your fill on Services, then Chapter 8 brings a course of WCF and ASMX web services. it also covers
ASP.NET authentication useful for integrating Silverlight into your existing web site.
This chapter, also focuses on WCF and ASMX services, with duplex communication, encryption, security and integrating WIF
into the Silverlight application.
REST is the main focus of chapter 10. Not only does this chapter cover the many flavours of REST, but also integrating with
Flickr and Twitter.
Chapter 11 (and 12)
WCF RIA Services, which appeared in the last edition is featured in chapter 11. Including setting up the service and
working with the data. The RIA services framework makes it really easy to simplify line of business applications. There's
50 pages on this, before we drop into Chapter 12 which covers advanced topics, such as Identity, user access, validation,
errors and exposing the service as endpoints as OData and for other technologies.
Brand new to this edition is Chapter 13, Windows Phone 7. It takes us back to the beginning with setting up the environment
and creating our first WP7 business application, before covering the service side of Windows Phone development.
The last time I covered this book
, It rated highly, addressing most of the challenges I'd set it. The Silverlight 5 version
is more comprehensive, with coverage of MVVM Lite, MEF and a bonus of Windows Phone. Gill Cleeren and Kevin Dockx, are both
very experienced professionals and have brought together a great selection of 'recipies' for this cookbook. It's more like a services Banquet, so fill your boots on the Silverlight 5 Data and Services cookbook.