Book Review : Professional Active Server Pages 3.0
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Right off the bat, I should say that I am skeptical about books written by more than 2 people. So you can imagine my skepticism when I saw 15 faces on the cover. Well, I was wrong on this one. This book is written in a concise style and the hand of the good and strong editor is evident. Wrox (the publisher) was able to meld the different writing styles of all the author into one cohesive, fact-filled and interesting read.
ASP 3.0 ships with Windows 2000 & IIS 5.0, but it is also useful if you have a Windows NT and IIS 4.0 (which shipped with ASP 2.0). The authors point out items that don't work in ASP 2.0, which is great if you are working in mixed environments. Warning, the book is over 1200 pages and extremely, extremely detailed. It assumes that, although you are not an ASP programmer, you are already a programmer. If you are not a programmer, then don't get this book but go instead for ASP for Dummies. The book starts out with ASP fundamentals, then talks about the intrinsic objects that come with ASP. After that it is on to related technologies that are often used with ASP, such as Scripting Runtime, ADO, XML and others. Although I was not impressed by the chapters on ADO, they are sufficient to get you started in this technology. However, you will not become an ADO expert after reading this book. After you learned the basics of ADO, go out and get yourself a book on ADO.
Midway through the book, the authors finally get to Windows 2000 specific technologies such as COM+, MSMQ, Transaction Server, Active Directory, etc... Even though, most of these technologies are available to Windows NT as well (through a free option pack), they are part of the OS in Windows 2000, a lot more integrated and faster (or so MS claims).
The book closes out with a discussion on how to secure and optimize your web site.
The chapters are constructed in a following fashion. First you are given the theory. Then various code snippets follow. Finally, they give you a working example that implements the theory discussed earlier. One of the things I didn't like about this book is that the examples on MTS, MSMQ and other new technologies are too simplistic to really learn how to get around the quirks that inevitably pop up when you are actually designing a real web site. For instance, in the chapter 19 on MTS, the example is a simple exercise in getting the recordset, then saving the changes to the database. I would have wanted to see how a distributed transaction works, at least. So the advanced subjects are little lite on examples.
Something else I didn't like is that the book didn't come with a CD. All of it is available for download from the Wrox web site, but I prefer to have a "hard copy", so to speak.
Overall, this book is very good as a reference and I use it on daily basis. I love the fact that if I need to look up something obscure and detailed, the odds are very good that I'll find it in this book. I would liken it to an encyclopedia. I give it 4 fingers up on our 1 to 5 scale.