# Tuesday, December 29, 2009

With long  travel delays due to snowstorms and terrorism, I got to catch up on some of my reading. One book I read over the break that stood out was an unexpected one: Essential Silverlight 3 by Ashraf Michail. I say it is an unexpected one since the book is not about building business applications with Silverlight so you won’t see a chapter on MVVM or using WCF and asynchronous services. What you will see is a discussion of the internals of Silverlight, the guts of a ZAP file, and how media, layout, text, input, data binding, and the like work.

You maybe thinking, “I am a developer, I don’t care about vector graphics!” I thought the same but read the book anyway and learned a lot about how Silverlight works and how to best debug and performance tune an application. Maybe I am biased since I work at a company that has to know all of the details of the .NET framework to make our products work, however, I think that every developer should take a look “under the hood” and see how Silverlight works.

Ashraf has a very engaging writing style and the book is a quick read, I read it over the course of two or three days (on airplanes and in airports!) He breaks down the chapters really nice and the last part of each chapter is called “under the hood” where you learn something about the internals of Silverlight. I must admit that I did skim some of the advanced material about animations and wrote a note to come back to it if I need to, but the chapters on vector graphics, GPU acceleration, the Silverlight application architecture, and data binding were truly fascinating and will help me with all of my business applications.

If you are new to Silverlight this is the first book you should read, then pick up a book on building applications with Silverlight. If you have been using Silverlight for a while and want to take your development to the next level, read this book as well-epically the “under the hood” sections.

Lastly, if you use Silverlight in a Virtual PC, you will care about vector graphics!

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