XAML In a Nutshell

"XAML in a Nutshell" is a book of two halves, the first a useful guide on writing XAML and getting it to look how you want, the second a reference on the various objects and types involved. Sadly, the first half is slightly less than 2/5 the book, meaning that the majority of the book is a slightly out of date and paper version of the help files installed with the .NET 3 SDK.

The book starts with a brief overview of what XAML and WinFX (the book was written before it was renamed .NET 3) are, and how they'll be used once released. It then goes on to a reasonably complete introduction to how to get XAML you've written and processed, and the results displayed on the screen. Doing things by hand and using Visual Studio 2005 are covered, although there's no mention of the graphical designers that are currently available in test form, something that would have been nice, but considering the target audience of the book, probably not required.

The next few chapters give a solid introduction to the basics of getting controls onto the screen, and laying them out as required. Although a little slow moving, this section is very complete, so by the end you'll know all about margins, alignment and docking. We're now 62 pages in, with only 24 pages of more advanced content remaining. This is split between resources and a brief overview of using animation in your XAML applications.

The remainder of the book is a reference to the various elements and classes involved in XAML applications, and although a useful resource, I can't help but feel that the long and verbose explanations of the individual properties of each object couldn't have been replaced with something more useful.

I found that this book started well, and then suddenly stopped when things were beginning to get interesting. Although I appreciate the usefulness of a reference for these things, I would have preferred some more details on XAML's 3D and media capabilities, and a deeper coverage of things such as the various types of XAML application.

Overall, if you're in need of a paper reference on the core of XAML and a brief tutorial on the basics, this is the book for you. If you'd prefer more tutorial and then rely on your IDE for help, you'd probably be better off finding a tutorial online or looking elsewhere.

Score: 4 out of 10

David Miles


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