[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="125" caption="Beginning Silverlight 2: From Novice to Professional"]Beginning Silverlight 2: From Novice to Professional[/caption]

In web development, it's important to keep current on new and updated technologies to avoid falling behind in the field. As a designer-turned-coder, I enjoy reading about and following up on the latest tools available for design and interface programming. Having designed and programmed in Flash for almost 10 years now, I was excited to read this book and see how Microsoft was tackling Rich Internet/Interactive Applications.

The author, Robert Lair, starts out the book with an introduction to Silverlight and the benefits of building interactive applications using Silverlight and its related tools. After the brief introduction, the real work begins and the reader is quickly involved in writing Silverlight applications. Robert does a great job walking the reader through the various tools available while building each application, and each example builds on or incorporates the previous examples, effectively 'stair-stepping' the reader up to building their own Silverlight applications.

Robert suggests that the reader be prepared with some knowledge of C#, JavaScript, and XML, but still keeps the code and examples simple enough to follow quickly and open enough to continue building as the reader's knowledge expands. Possibly the only break from this learning curve flow is the final chapter, where Robert describes and builds a custom control for Silverlight, a button with an extra 'cool down' function that isn't possible using just the predefined Silverlight controls. This is definitely one of the most exciting areas in Silverlight, and while it seems a bit abrupt to dive right into coding a custom control, there isn't a great way to teach such a high-level process without hitting it head-on. Robert handles that extremely well by walking through the code in steps and giving detailed explanations on each piece of the control.

Following the book from beginning to end, the reader will certainly have the tools and enough starting experience to create and deploy Silverlight applications. As with most design and interface tools, the only limit is the imagination and creativity of the person behind the tools. This book provides an excellent starting point for anyone interested in learning about Silverlight and its capabilities.

As I finished the book, I found myself even more excited about Silverlight applications. While I'm not prepared to run around shouting 'Flash is dead!', I am thrilled to see a contender to Adobe's Flash and Flex. It's also good to see an option for the .NET developers to build the Rich Internet Applications while using the programming language and tools they are accustomed to. This book will put those developers on the fast track to rivaling even the best Flash/Flex applications available today.

You can pick up Apress's Beginning Silverlight 2: From Novice to Professional from Apress.com or Amazon.com.