I have to choose one of the following books, and I didn't find many reviews besides the comments on the Amazon pages (which are mostly positive):

  • Programming Microsoft ASP.NET 3.5 --- by Dino Esposito (Microsoft Press)
  • Professional ASP.NET 3.5: In C# and VB --- by Bill Evjen, Scott Hanselman, Devin Rader (Wrox)
  • Programming ASP.NET 3.5 --- by Jesse Liberty, Dan Maharry, Dan Hurwitz (O'Reilly)
  • Pro ASP.NET 3.5 in C# 2008, Second Edition --- by Matthew MacDonald, Mario Szpuszta (Apress)
  • ASP.NET 3.5 Unleashed --- by Stephen Walther (Sams)
  • ASP.NET 3.5 Website Programming: Problem - Design - Solution --- by Chris Love (Wrox)

Can the owners of those books recommend one of them, considering my needs of learning:

  • data binding from various sources (including generic collections, not only datasets from SQL Server with or without stored procedures),
  • choosing the most adequate way of displaying various data in tabular format (including master-details in the same table, if possible),
  • the basics of custom controls,
  • the basics of master pages.

Also, if those topics are more detailed in other books, please give me a hint.

Environment: ASP.NET 2.0+, C# 2.0+

8 accepted

I own

  • C# 2.0 (Liberty)
  • Pro ASP.NET 2.0 (Wrox - evjen, hanselman, etc),
  • .NET Framework 2.0 MCTS 70-536 (MS Press)
  • ASP.NET 3.5 Unleashed (Walther)

In my experience the Unleashed and Jessie Liberty's series' are more useful than the WROX and MSPress because they better explain the practical application of the concept being discussed.

Wrox books tend to be more encyclopedic and canonical, lacking the "Now what do I do with it" knowledge.

MS Press was ok, but had Mucho typos and the practice exams supplied with the book had at least 6 bad questions and would not provide me with a corrected practice test.

@jfar - I agree to a point, but these books are thick and sturdy enough to make fine monitor risers. =)


I strongly recommend "Pro ASP.NET 3.5 in C# 2008" 2nd Edition by Matthew MacDonald and Mario Szpuszta. This is (far and away) the most complete treatment of the subject in book format.


I disagree with you jfar. Online resources are great for reference and for a quick code snippet, as well as to keep you up-to-date (through blogs). But when it comes to learning the basics, in a structured, didactic way, nothing can replace books (except courses).

Regarding the original question, if a book has 4 1/2 or more stars at Amazon, with a few dozen reviews, it's a safe bet. O'Reilly, Wiley and Wrox books are usually very good (Apress books, OTOH, could be great or not so great). Try to read the "Who is this book for" section that most books have in the preface, to see if you fit the intended audience, and go for it. The "Look inside" feature at Amazon is also great.


I don't own any of these... but I want to say, that you can't go wrong with O'Reilly and Jesse Liberty.

alt text


Another vote for the Professional ASP.NET 3.5: In C# and VB - by Bill Evjen, Scott Hanselman, Devin Rader - book. It's very easy to read and clear code samples. Looking forward to the MVC book scott and co have been working on.


If you're picking a book as a learning guide, rather than as a reference, I would heavily weigh whether the books contain excercises, self-quizzes, and projects. In learning a new area, the more the author(s) help in terms of practical exercises to work through, the better. They're all sure to have examples, but examples don't get you to apply what you've learned in a constructive or critical way. You're also better to pick up on a subject when you're given an opportunity to try to apply what you've just read in some sort of meaningful way.

While not always true, Wrox titles tend to have more pedagogy built in than Oreilly in terms of excerises and projects (IMHO). Again, not always true, and certainly not true for the Oreilly Head first series, but that's been my impression.

I would consider these aspects as well when deciding on a text.


I'm currently reading "Professional ASP.NET 3.5: In C# and VB - by Bill Evjen, Scott Hanselman, Devin Rader". It's a very good read and the code samples are great. It's definitely one of the best tech-books I've read.

I should add that another thing I like about it is that while most books just tell you how to do something, this book actually gives you some guidelines and best practices, so you're not completely on your own with figuring out when to use all the features you learned.


If your environment is both .NET and C# 2.0 those books might contain information about C# 3 and .NET 3.5 that isn't relevant to your environment.

Also I'd forgo the books entirely. When I started learning .NET again I completed most of the "needs of your learning" with online articles just fine. The books I do have never really tackled the specific problems your talking about. Instead they just contained boilerplate examples without any regard for typical website requirements.

"Drag datasource control here, drag datagrid here, right click... yadda yadda yadda..."

For example here is an article about nested repeaters, and a great one about content/master page interaction.