Pro Business Applications with Silverlight 4 (English)

I see that there is a lot of interest in developing business applications with Silverlight, although there are not many books about that subject. The book Pro Business Applications with Silverlight 4, from Chris Anderson, Apress Publishing, brings Silverlight learning under a different concept the business applications development.

Usually, the Silverlight books bring the platform concepts under a difficulty sequence, but with no concerns with the real world application development. This book concern is the creation of applications: in chapter 5, just after showing an introduction to Silverlight and to XAML and showing an introduction to the navigation framework, it shows RIA Services for data access with Entity Framework.

In the sequence, the author talks about list generation and data entry forms, following with application security, an unusual topic in books on this subject. The following chapters are on Data Binding, custom control creation and MVVM pattern, a subject almost mandatory in the WPF/Silverlight development.

The last chapters are about reporting and printing, Out of Browser applications and interaction with the operating system and application deployment. The book is well written and touches many subjects not touched by other books, although they are very important for the business application development.

The book is focused in using RIA Services, and it lets aside other technologies for data access, like WCF, REST or JSon and there is barely nothing about network access, needed when you want to upload a file to the server or download a file. In the printing chapter, the author showed very little about the printing technology in Silverlight 4, spending a lot of pages to show how you can display PDF files generated on the server. Although this is a viable way to show reports, I don’t think it’s the best one, because we need to resort to tricks like use an IFrame over the Silverlight control, with several problems: it doesn’t work Out of Browser (we need to use the WebBrowser in this case), you cannot show a ChildWindow while it’s visible (the IFrame stays on top of the Silverlight control and hides the ChildWindow) and needs Acrobat Reader installed in the user’s machine. It would be better that, in this chapter, the author had written a mini report generator to aid report generation using Silverlight technology.

On the other side, the book shows Silverlight under a different aspect, geared towards business applications, what, in my opinion is the real Silverlight vocation. The RIA Services explanation is very complete, and encompasses from the basics through validation, metadata and the use of a presentation layer, that eases the use with the MVVM pattern and the use of authentication.

In summary, the book is very good for those who want to develop a business application with Silverlight using RIA Services, it contains a lot of information and, as and added bonus, its text contains links to tools, controls or articles that will aid the Silverlight development.

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