Monday, November 22, 2010

Book Review: Professional ASP.NET Design Patterns By Scott Millett

Let me begin by stating that Professional ASP.NET Design Patterns is a fantastic book that was worth every minute I spent reading it. The author, Scott Millett, is a great community leader and extends himself in several ways including spending time on the forums contributing to others into his strong insight of Domain Driven Design, Architecture, and Design Patterns. He has extended that helpfulness by writing this book that takes a dive into Design Patterns and Architecture from an ASP.NET UI centric view. However I would not get too fixated on the 'ASP.NET' in the title as probably more than half of this book could just as well have been called "Professional .NET Design Patterns" as it provides design patterns that are truly useful to all types of .NET applications once moving below the topmost UI layer. There are several chapters devoted to ASP.NET patterns including MVC which makes this still focused mostly on ASP.NET, but I would still recommend this book to WinForms and other SmartClient developers as well.

This book's target audience is broad and could reach to several different types of software engineers. It is probably suited best for Senior Engineers, Architects, Leads, or generally seasoned developers. It is not really an introductory book (this is a good thing; there are plenty of those books out there already), so if you don't know what acronyms like OOP, OOD, UI, BLL, or DAL mean at a minimum already then you may want to read something along the lines of an introduction to Object Oriented Programming book 1st to gain some traction. This is however a terrific book for those that do have a lot of experience with a traditional 3-layer logical architectures, and are looking to bridge the gap to more sophisticated architectures using Domain Driven Design and other implementations of either Martin Fowler's or the GoF design patterns within.

Scott does a wonderful job of layering the book (chapters) as you would an application. Each chapter takes either a single layer or design pattern and goes into detail on its responsibilities, relationship to other layers, and implementation with easy to follow along code samples. In fact I highly recommend downloading the code samples from the WROX website (WROX Code Download) The entire set of code samples are in C#, but don't let this slow up any VB.NET devs out there. I am actually a VB.NET developer (C# in the past) but we all know that you don't get too far in this industry without reading both so this should not be any problem.

The 1st third of the book (roughly) concentrates mostly on individual logical layers of an application and how they work together to build an application. Within each layer, there are examples of Design Patterns (both Fowler and GoF) that are used and shown why they are useful within that particular layer. There is also a section on IoC and DI which I really enjoyed and are reoccurring patterns in the layers throughout the book. The 2nd third of the book concentrates mostly on ASP.NET architectures and techniques like MVC, MVP, and AJAX patterns. The last third is devoted to a case study example that uses the knowledge gained from the previous chapters. The book reads and flows extremely well and was one of the reasons I enjoyed reading it so much.

I will also note that this is a great book for those of you familiar or have read the GoF book Design Patterns Elements of Reusable Object Oriented Software. As we all know code examples used to conceptually explain design patterns are not always critical, but Scott's book puts a fresh '.NET' perspective on several of the GoF patterns which is really nice. This helps to see how these patterns apply directly in .NET instead of taking the SmallTalk or C++ examples from the GoF book and translating them into .NET.

The book wraps up with a full case study example putting all of the chapters together (Agath's e-commerce store). This again strengthens the flow of the book with an extended example using everything learned from the previous chapters, This solution is included in the 'Chapter 14' folder in the downloadable code and is a nice reference to show everything from the book.

Well I will wrap this review up by saying this book is one for the shelf of 'Top Reference' books that go right next to the development machine. This is one of those books that you think, "How do I do that in the Repository Layer...", and then pick up the book to get a refresher. I would definitely recommend this book and keep an eye out for future books from Scott Millett. Nice Job!


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