Contents tagged with reviews
A quick note of interest to ASP.NET developers and testers: Visual Studio Magazine has posted my review of Automation Design Canvas, a fine Web testing product from ArtOfTest. I see that Telerik is also selling this as Telerik WebUI Test Studio.
Visual Studio 2008 certainly has become a huge platform for third-party vendors. The terms 'plug-in' and 'add-on' are woefully inadequate to describe what amount to full-blown software applications running inside the VS shell.
I suspect that most ASP.NET developers would like to get started with Silverlight development. For most of us, it's a question of finding the time, overcoming some inertia, and getting over a touch of anxiety about the learning curve. Adam Nathan's Silverlight 1.0 Unleashed is a good way to get your fingers into Silverlight code and feel your way around - much the way you did when you first encounter any new platform.
A couple of observations worth noting at the outset: First, this Unleashed book is a manageable size! I don't recall a book in this series weighing in at under 300 pages. A smaller book is far less intimidating for beginners. Secondly, the book is in colour, including the syntax highlighting. Colour enhances the readability of any computer book, especially one that deals with such a visual topic.
You notice Adam Nathan's expertise and enthusiasm in the world of XAML on every page. For example, in the chapter on Brushes and Images, he shows how to use the VideoBrush object to paint a block of text with live video. The rest of us wouldn't know where to start to implement these effects - or even that they could be done by mere mortals. Despite being a Microsoft employee, Nathan doesn't gloss over Silverlight 1.0's limitations. His "warning" sidebar on image file formats points out that the 1.0 release doesn't support .gif or .bmp - you must use .png and .jpg. In a comparison with Flash, he notes Silverlight's lack of morphing, blurring, and glowing effects. That said, he offers helpful tips and workarounds where possible.
I'm of two (or three!) minds about how to approach Silverlight development. When I learned ASP Classic, it was all hand coding at the start. As the tools came along (Visual InterDev), development became much faster. But I could always fall back to hand coding when the tool couldn't do what I wanted or was just too slow. Should I take the same approach with Silverlight 1.0 - code by hand and then learn the graphical way? The trouble is, the graphic tool is here now and hard to ignore. I suspect that coding for Silverlight will be a hybrid process where you let Blend do the grunt work and then turn to Silverlight 1.0 Unleashed as a valuable reference for tweaking the code to get the exact effect.