Book Review: ASP.NET Data Presentation Controls Essentials

If you are an ASP.NET developer or want to become one, there are numerous books available that talk about the ASP.NET framework and/or how to build web sites using ASP.NET. Pact Publishing has a book that focuses specifically on the data presentation controls that are available in ASP.NET, including ASP.NET 3.5 called ASP.NET Data Presentation Controls Essentials by Joydip Kanjilal.

The book provides a good introduction to the basics of how data binding in ASP.NET works and then expands on that introduction to cover the new (in ASP.NET 2.0) data source controls, including the Object, SQL, and XML data source controls.

From there, the book focuses a separate chapter on the working with each of the different types of data presentation controls:

  • List Controls
    • ListBox
    • DropDownList
    • CheckBoxList
    • BulletedList
    • RadioButtonList
  • Repeater
  • DataList
  • DataGrid

The List Controls chapter covers the basics of how to bind data to each of the different controls and presents a simple working example for each one. It also walks you through implementing a custom list control, by creating a custom CheckBoxList control. The chapter on the Repeater control shows how to do basic data paging and sorting, while the DataList and DataGrid chapters also show how to implement data editing.

The remainder of the book focuses on how to display different views of your data using the GridView and offers a good comparison between the GridView and DataGrid controls and then taking a deeper look at using the DetailsView, FormView and TreeView controls. The techniques presented in these two chapters show explain of the more common visual modifications in fairly simple to understand terms, including how to change the row color using a checkbox, displaying a cell tool tip and how to implement a hierarchical GridView. The last chapter focuses on LINQ and how to query data using LINQ to bind to the Listview and DataPager controls.

Overall, while the style of writing in the book was a little hard to follow at times, the technical content of the book appeared to be both accurate and thorough, providing a very good look at the various data-bound presentation controls available in ASP.NET.