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Book Review: Programming Microsoft ASP.NET MVC, 2nd Edition

  • Title: Programming Microsoft ASP.NET MVC, 2nd Edition
  • Author: Dino Esposito
  • Level: Intermediate to advanced
  • Publisher: Microsoft Press
  • Pages: 438
  • Rating: 4 of 5

With lots of talk and attention being given to ASP.NET MVC, it has become necessary for any ASP.NET developer to master ASP.NET MVC concepts. Programming Microsoft ASP.NET MVC, 2nd Edition by Dino Esposito provides a very good understanding of the subject. Before I describe the contents of the book, however, I would like to tell you that this is not a tutorial or step-by-step kind of book neither it is for absolute beginners. Also, though it contains code snippets it doesn't give heavy or elaborate code listings usually found in many books. So, if you are looking for something of that sort you might want to look into some other titles.

The book is divided into three parts viz. Fundamentals, Software Design and Client Side. The first part consists of four chapters and begins by describing MVC Controllers. It discusses the Controller class as well as grouping controllers and asynchronous operations. Chapter 2 describes MVC view engine namely ASPX and Razor engines. It also covers HTML helpers and how to create custom view engines. Chapter 3 covers MVC models and includes topics such as default model binding and custom model binding. It finishes by demonstrating the concepts just learnt by developing a DateTime custom model binder. Chapter 4 talks about how to write HTML forms effectively for ASP.NET MVC scenarios. Also covered are handling GET and POST requests efficiently and AJAX based input forms. The chapter concludes with data annotations, default and custom templates for data types and various data validation techniques as applicable to MVC applications.

Second part consists five chapters that deal with Software Designing for MVC applications. The topics covered are important in any MVC web applications. Chapter 5 covers some important aspects of MVC application such as session management, caching data, error handling and localization. Chapter 6 discusses security. Concepts such as authentication and authorization are discussed here along with Membership service. Additionally, information with sample code on using third party authentication services such as OpenID, OAuth and Twitter is given. Chapter 7 discusses design considerations for controllers. It details several topics of interest such as iPODD pattern, dependency injection,  dependency inversion principle, service locator pattern and creating custom controller factories. Continuing the dissection of Controllers, Chapter 8 talks about customizing them. Topics such as extensibility and provider model are discussed along with a couple of real world situations. Also covered are topics such as embedded and external action filters, built-in action filters and global filters. Some example scenarios such as response compression, adding response headers are covered. Further, it talks about view selectors, action name selectors, action method selectors, AJAX only action methods and action result types. Chapter 9 deals with an important aspect of software development - testing and testability. This chapter gives overview of designing for testability, interface based programming and unit testing. It then focuses on MVC specific testing and talks about testing various layers, views, localization, routes, testing asynchronous code. Further discussed are topics such as mocking data and ASP.NET objects such as HttpContext, Session and Response. The chapter ends with discussion of testing controller methods with filters applied to them.

Third part consists of just one chapter that deals with client side scripting techniques. The initial topics discussed such as types, null handling and objects are purely related to JavaScript. Then the chapters discusses jQuery. After introducing you to JavScript and jQuery the chapter talks about - un-obstructive code, creating Namespaces and Modules. To improve performance of the pages being loaded it also discusses script loading techniques and sprite. The chapter then focuses on MVC specific use of JavaScript and AJAX.

Overall this book gives a very good and thorough understanding about ASP.NET MVC, not just at code level but also at concept and design level. At places the information presented sounds bit off the track considering the core topic of the book but if you have time this information can be an interesting read. You may not read this book in start to end fashion because it presents several topics which are beyond syntax. They will make you think of how you develop today and how you can implement what the author is talking about. At places you can also do some brainstorming with your friends or colleagues about the design and pattern related topics. This book is not "read and keep aside" kind. You will need to re-visit, re-refer, re-read it more than once. So, I would definitely recommend this book provided you are ready to take a serious, in-depth look at MVC rather than beginner or code intensive tutorials. Reading some basic stuff from official ASP.NET website and then picking this book up would be a recommended approach and I think at the end of the exercise you will certainly find it worth.


Bipin Joshi is an independent software consultant and trainer by profession specializing in Microsoft web development technologies. Having embraced the Yoga way of life he is also a meditation teacher and spiritual guide to his students. He is a prolific author and writes regularly about software development and yoga on his websites. He is programming, meditating, writing, and teaching for over 27 years. To know more about his ASP.NET online courses go here. More details about his Ajapa Japa and Shambhavi Mudra online course are available here.

Posted On : 14 November 2011