in SharePoint 2010

Book Review: Microsoft Silverlight 4 and SharePoint 2010 Integration

I got the opportunity to review the Microsoft Silverlight 4 and SharePoint 2010 Integration book published by Packt Publishers. I love SharePoint and when they asked me whether I could review this book for them, I did not hesitate to say yes Smile

Microsoft Silverlight 4 and SharePoint 2010 Integration

So here it is:

If you are into Silverlight or if you are keen to know what are the endless possibilities with Silverlight and SharePoint 2010, then this is the right book for you.

Chapter 1: Integrating Silverlight 4 with SharePoint 2010

The first chapter introduces the SharePoint development platform and starts off with why you might want to consider building Silverlight RIAs. If you are not familiar with building SharePoint solutions with Visual Studio 2010, this chapter gives you a quick introduction on setting up the development environment, creating the SharePoint solution and deploying the solution to the SharePoint site. The chapter takes you through building a simple ‘Hello World’ Silverlight RIA sample, deploying it to the SharePoint site and adding the Silverlight web part to display the Silverlight RIA.

Chapter 2: Deploying and Debugging Techniques for Silverlight and SharePoint

This chapter covers how to use SharePoint 2010 Client Object Model to retrieve SharePoint data in a Silverlight RIA. It also covers on how to debug a Silverlight RIA running in a Silverlight web part. This chapter takes you through building a Silverlight SharePoint Tasks Viewer sample – a Silverlight RIA that talks to SharePoint Tasks list. The author explains every step and every line of code used which makes it easier for the reader to follow and most importantly understand what is happening. I really enjoyed building the sample myself. I really like the way how the author explains asynchronous queries run, by a neat sequence diagram.

Chapter 3: Interacting with Data on the SharePoint Server

This chapter focuses on building a Silverlight RIA that performs the basic CRUD operations using the SharePoint 2010 Silverlight Client Object Model. Instead of building another sample from scratch, the author continues to enhance the Silverlight SharePoint Tasks Viewer built in Chapter 2. Again, the author explains every step and every line of code. It also covers on how to handle errors in asynchronous query calls in Silverlight application. This chapter introduces you to the world of ‘Silverlight Connected Applications’ which enables you to establish a simple communication channel between many Silverlight applications and use it to send messages between many applications. I found the Silverlight SharePoint Tasks Viewer slowly becoming a mainstream Silverlight RIA!

Chapter 4: Creating Dynamic Business Solutions

Till now, the book covered how to interact with SharePoint data in a list. This chapter takes you to the next level – interacting with the external data in SharePoint using Business Connectivity Services (BCS) and SharePoint 2010 Client Object Model. This chapter takes you through creating a simple events database, events table, creating an external content type (events) and creating an external list (Events) to display this external data. Even if you are not familiar with creating external content types, this chapter gives you a good introduction of how to create external content types in SharePoint Designer 2010. The author then takes you through building a Silverlight Events Viewer sample that interacts with this external list to display the events using SharePoint 2010 Client Object Model. It also covers running Silverlight RIAs as Out-Of-Browser applications.

Chapter 5: Working with WCF Data Services

Till now, the book covered how to interact wit the SharePoint data using SharePoint 2010 Client Object Model. This chapter explains how to consume SharePoint data in Silverlight by connecting to the WCF Data Services (ADO.NET data services). This chapter builds the Silverlight SharePoint Tasks Viewer with the basic CRUD operations by connecting the to the WCF Data Services. This chapter also covers the Developer Dashboard in SharePoint 2010 which helps developers understand and analyse the activity in SharePoint Server and its related components.

Chapter 6: Interacting with Rich Media and Animations

This chapter makes use of the Silverlight 4 features to work with rich media and perform animations on the digital assets stored in a SharePoint 2010 Asset Library. It explains how to access the digital assets from SharePoint 2010 in a Visual Web Part and Silverlight RIA. The Asset Browser sample uses a Visual Web Part that hosts a Silverlight control that displays the digital assets. It also covers on how to use Microsoft Express Blend to design the Silverlight user interface and then  load it in Visual Studio 2010 to render it in the Visual Web Part. The author explains working with Silverlight 4 interactive animations and effects, which is used in the Assets Browser sample.

Overall Verdict

This book is great if you want to know how to use the new Silverlight Client Object Model and WCF Data Services to access SharePoint 2010 data from a Silverlight application.

However:

  • It is not a book to lean Silverlight programming model in depth.
  • It is not a book to learn Silverlight programming skills.
  • It is not a book to learn SharePoint programming skills.

Code explanations, sequences diagrams (wherever applicable), good selection of samples is what makes this book very special. As the title suggest, this book is a good introductory reference for Microsoft Silverlight 4 and SharePoint 2010 integration.

You can download the first chapter here for a preview or purchase the book here.

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