Learning or Programming?

We have written two ASP.NET books: the one you are currently reading and another named Learning ASP.NET 3.5 (O’Reilly). Whereas that book is aimed at complete beginners wanting to ramp up their ASP.NET skills, this book is aimed at those with at least a basic knowledge of development with ASP.NET who want to explore it in more depth. It is a way marker, mapping out and describing the various aspects of development with ASP.NET to a point where the reader has enough knowledge of it to understand what he can do and how to strike out on his own to deeper, more involved areas of the topic.

With this in mind, Programming ASP.NET 3.5 is not aimed specifically at the total newcomer to ASP.NET development, though arguably newcomers may gain the most from it over a period of time. Nor is it targeted at the ASP.NET guru who wants in-depth knowledge of operations at the protocol level, although we hope there are a few nuggets in here that such readers didn’t already know, and that they may choose to use this book as a handy fallback if their memory fails them.

Visual Basic Versus C#

A quick note on Visual Basic versus C#: some people choose a .NET book based on the language in which the examples are given. That’s a natural reaction, but it’s really not necessary, and here’s why: there is very little actual Visual Basic or C# code in any given ASP.NET application, and what there is, you can easily translate from one to the other “on inspection.” Besides, the two languages are strikingly similar, and both produce the same output. If you know one, it’s quite simple to learn the other. In fact, software tools are available that can convert one language to the other with amazing accuracy. Finally, ASP.NET programmers benefit terrifically by being “bilingual”—that is, having the ability to read C# and write Visual Basic (or vice versa).

In the end, we had to choose one language over the other, and we elected to do the examples and exercises for this book in C#. However, if you prefer Visual Basic, you’ll find every single example and exercise solution reproduced in Visual Basic free for download from this book’s website, at http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/9780596529567.

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