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    Book Review: Microsoft AJAX Library Essentials: Client-side ASP.NET AJAX 1.0 Explained

    Microsoft AJAX Library Essentials: Client-side ASP.NET AJAX 1.0 Explained

    With Microsoft AJAX getting the spotlight these days, it’s timely that we see books on the subject springing out on the store shelves. Microsoft AJAX Library Essentials: Client-side ASP.NET AJAX 1.0 Explained by Bogdan Brinzarea and Cristian Darie brings about a practical tutorial to using the Microsoft AJAX Library to enhance user experience in ASP.NET web applications. The book is about 280 pages – not a thick book by programming book standards – but it’s concise enough to reap much value out of the book.

    The book features eight chapters of content and a 45-page appendix dedicated to a reference of the Microsoft AJAX Library. The first chapter is more of an introductory journey into the world of AJAX and Web 2.0. At the end of the chapter, the reader is treated to a little “Hello World” example using raw AJAX i.e. how one would conventionally write AJAX code without using the Microsoft AJAX Library.

    The second chapter provides a guide to the foundation technologies used to implement AJAX features, such as JavaScript, DOM, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and the XMLHttpRequest object. Seasoned web developers may probably skip the part on JavaScript, DOM and CSS but I find these sections serving as an excellent refresher.

    Chapter 3 gives a nice grounding on how object-orientation is mapped to JavaScript. Apart from learning about terms like encapsulation, inheritance, and polymorphism, readers will learn about JavaScript anonymous functions and closures, JavaScript prototypes, the JavaScript execution context and scope, implementing inheritance using closures and prototypes, reading class diagrams and implementing them using JavaScript code. The last part of the chapter touches on JavaScript Object Notation (JSON). This chapter is crucial in understanding the overall O-O approach used by the Microsoft in implementing the AJAX library.

    Chapter 4 takes readers on a tour of the components that make up the Microsoft AJAX Library. At the end of the chapter, the reader is treated to several code examples, this time using the Microsoft AJAX Library to perform asynchronous server calls.

    After a relatively short fourth chapter, Chapter 5 gets a little hard-core. The chapter presents the features in Microsoft AJAX Library that extend JavaScript with features of the .NET world, such as namespaces, interfaces, a more powerful inheritance paradigm, extended base classes, properties, events, and enumerations.

    Chapter 6 gives a theoretical outline on creating client components using the Microsoft AJAX Library. This includes extending page elements, registering events, and utilizing the page life cycle.

    Chapter 7 is where it gets interesting as there are more codes to look at and try out. The chapter presents a walkthrough on creating two client-side components, namely the Timer and EnhancedTextBox (a sort of auto-complete textbox).

    The final chapter provides an overview of essential debugging tools out there for working with Microsoft AJAX Library projects using Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox.

    The appendix of the book i.e. the Microsoft AJAX Library Reference – provides a quick reference and visual guideline to the library namespaces and classes.

    Both Bogdan and Cristian did an excellent job in presenting the subject matter in an easy-to-understand manner. The diagrams and screenshots are not just plain eye-candy but useful in understanding the textual content. All code examples presented are systematically dissected and explained in detail.

    I’d suggest anyone reading this book to have a PC connected to the Internet beside as the book is generously sprinkled with links to various useful web resources. In addition, the AJAX examples in the book can be tested live on the Cristian's website.

    This book serves as a nice introduction for ASP.NET developers who are just starting out developing client-side components on the ASP.NET AJAX Framework. For ASP.NET developers who are already using pre-built Microsoft AJAX client-side components in their projects, this book will help provide a better understanding of the inner workings of these components.

    - Jason Ong
    September 2007

    Microsoft AJAX Library Essentials: Client-side ASP.NET AJAX 1.0 Explained
    Authors: Bogdan Brinzarea and Cristian Darie
    Publisher: Packt Publishing
    ISBN: 978-1847190987

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