This book is labeled as intermediate to advanced. I would agree with that listing. You won't find an overview of XAML in the book. The publisher has made Silverlight 2 Unleashed available for download and the book refers you to it for the basics. The author did do a good job of outlining the Silverlight 2 Unleashed chapters in the beginning of book, and pointing you to it where appropriate.
Personally I would have preferred to have the chapters still considered relevant to have been updated and included. This would have made the book a beginners to advanced book. I have however seen complaints in reviews of other books that argue for the opposite. The other reviewers don't want material carried forward. I disagree and like everything in one place. This is just my personal opinion and I won't ding the book for it.
The book starts off with a high level history of Silverlight and an overviews of alternatives. It also gives some good examples of current Silverlight projects out there. There is then a short chapter on setting up your Visual Studio and Blend environments. After that the book gets down to business with a great chapter on user controls, custom controls, and templating a control. There is also more detailed information on templating a control later in the book.
The book is packed with great advice on how to build Silverlight applications correctly. It is an easy to read book, and will also make a great reference.
Highlights for me were the coverage of Custom Controls Blendability MVVM SketchFlow Blend Behaviors Line of Business Applications The Optimizing Performance Chapter And the Advanced Development Techniques Chapter
The author is a well known expert who created the MVVM Light Toolkit. He does not jam it down your throat, but does provide some useful information on it.
The highlight of this book for me is that the author really highlights the valuable features Silverlight has to offer. He explains them in-depth and then moves on. He doesn't waste a ton of pages redrawing a line or circle 20 different ways with different colors. He moves at a pace and depth that keeps you reading and interested while constantly feeling like you are learning.
There are some other good books out there on Silverlight. I have them all, good and bad. I am very pleased to have added this book to the collection. While reading it I didn't feel like I was reading something I read before. It all felt fresh because of the way the author presented the material.
The downloadable is very well organized and very usable.
All in all I highly recommend this book to anyone involved with Silverlight.
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