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Book Review: Windows 8 Apps with XAML and C# Unleashed

A must have for any Windows 8 developer of any level

As with Nathan's book WPF 4 Unleashed this book is a pure pleasure to read. It is in full color, the content is laid out in an easy to read style, the author's writing style makes it easy to read, and the content is all valuable. There is no fluff like you find in a lot of the books written today.

Part I of the book starts out with an awesome chapter on the anatomy of a Windows store app and then has a great chapter introducing XAML. The book is broken down into a total of 5 parts. I have listed them below along with the chapters they contain.

Part I. Getting Started
Chapter 1. Anatomy of a Windows Store App
Chapter 2. Mastering XAML

Part II. Building an App
Chapter 3. Sizing, Positioning, and Transforming Elements
Chapter 4. Layout
Chapter 5. Interactivity
Chapter 6. Handling Input: Touch, Mouse, Pen, and Keyboard
Chapter 7. App Model

Part III. Understanding Controls
Chapter 8. Content Controls
Chapter 9. Items Controls
Chapter 10. Text
Chapter 11. Images
Chapter 12. Audio and Video
Chapter 13. Other Controls

Part IV. Leveraging the Richness of XAML
Chapter 14. Vector Graphics
Chapter 15. Animation
Chapter 16. Styles, Templates, and Visual States

Part V. Exploiting Windows 8
Chapter 17. Data Binding
Chapter 18. Data
Chapter 19. Charms
Chapter 20. Extensions
Chapter 21. Sensors and Other Devices

Part VI. Advanced Topics
Chapter 22. Thinking Outside the App: Live Tiles, Toast Notifications, and the Lock Screen

In Part II there are a lot of things that are specific to Windows 8 apps that developers are going to need to learn. The book does a great job of covering all of these. The first three chapters in this section cover interactivity, sizing, positioning, transforming elements, and layout, which now can be full-screen landscape, full-screen portrait, filled, and snapped.

Chapter 6 is a very important chapter for developers that are needed to touch to get a firm grasp on. It covers touch, mouse, pen, and keyboard input. Developers need to understand the differences between the way pen digitizer works compared to a stylus that uses a capacitive touch screen. This chapter covers all the details that you need to know to get a firm grasp on the differences. This chapter also covers the basic Windows 8 gestures including tapped, right tapped, holding, and crossline.

Chapter 7 the app model is also very important chapter in part two. This chapter covers the lifecycle of an application from launching to suspending to resuming to killing and terminating. It also covers how applications interact with the Windows store. One of the topics developers are going to want to learn is how to support a free trial, and later how enable a full license of their application to be purchased.

Part III is all about controls, images, audio, and video. The controls covered include Button , HyperlinkButton , RepeatButton , ToggleButton , CheckBox , RadioButton , ToolTip , AppBar, Items Panels , ComboBox , ListBox , ListView , GridView , FlipView , SemanticZoom , TextBlock , RichTextBlock , TextBox , RichEditBox , and PasswordBox. The chapter on images not only covers the Image Elelment but includes coverage on encoding and decoding images. The chapter on audio and video include coverage of playback, capture, and transcoding. There is a ton of material covered in part three!!!

Part IV digs deep into XAML capabilities. Chapter 14 covers vector graphics which included shapes, geometries, and brushes. Chapter 15 covers animation which includes theme transitions and animations, custom animations, custom keyframe animations, easing functions, and manual animations. The title of Chapter 16 Styles, Templates, and Visual States some up exactly what that chapters about.

Part V covers a ton of information on how your application will integrate with the Windows 8 environment. It covers where you get your data from, how to integrate with charms, and how to implement extensions. Chapter 21 covers the accelerometer, qyrometer, inclinometer, compass, light sensor, orientation, location, and proximity.

The one topic I would have liked to have seen more on in Part V is using SQLite. So far all the books that I have read on Windows 8 Apps tell you that it's available, but they don't explain how to use it. The apps I am working on are going to need a robust local data cache, and App Data and User Data are not going to be able to handle it.

The last chapter of the book covers Live Tiles, Toast Notifications, and the Lock Screen. As Windows 8 developers you are going to want to know how to use these features.

There really is not a chapter in this book that should be skipped. Every chapter contains a wealth of valuable information for those looking to get into Windows 8 development.

The author's writing style is very clean and easy to understand making the book an enjoyable read.

The code samples are well organized, very usable and work as downloaded. I mention the work as download because lately I have been downloads some author's code samples and the time it takes to get them to work is more than they are worth.

Over all this is an awesome book. It is a must have for any Windows 8 developer of any level.

For more book recommendations check out my .NET, iOS, and Java Architecture and Development Book Recommendations for 2013


Windows 8 Apps with XAML and C# Unleashed

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Tad Anderson has been doing Software Architecture for 18 years and Enterprise Architecture for the past few.

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