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Microsoft Silverlight 4 Data and Services Cookbook: Interview with Co-author Kevin Dockx

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Svetla Stoycheva
Svetla Stoycheva
Joined Sep 25, 2009
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0 comments   /   posted on Oct 19, 2010
Tags:   kevin-dockx
Categories:   Interviews


The book Microsoft Silverlight 4 Data and Services Cookbook and one of its authors - Gill Cleeren - are quite well known to SilverlightShow community, especially after the recent SilverlightShow webinar on Data Binding by Gill Cleeren.

We would like now to introduce the co-author on this book - Kevin Dockx, solution manager for Rich Applications at RealDolmen, one of Belgium's biggest ICT companies (Kevin's blog: http://blog.kevindockx.com/) - who authored a substantial part of the book content.

Q. Kevin - could you briefly introduce yourself to SilverlightShow community

A. Well, I’m from Antwerp, Belgium, and I’m a technical specialist / project lead on .NET web applications (mainly Silverlight), and a Solution Manager Rich Applications at RealDolmen, one of Belgiums’ biggest ICT companies. So: my focus lies on all things Silverlight (that’s actually about 90% of my job), and I’ve been working with it since the betas of the first version. Next to that, I’m a regular speaker at (inter)national events, like MS DevDays in the Netherlands, MS TechDays in Portugal, BESUG (Belgian Silverlight User Group) events, …

Q. Which parts of Microsoft Silverlight 4 Data and Services Cookbook book have you authored, and why did you decide to cover those?

A. Most of the books’ chapters were written by both of us, but I wrote the chapters on the DataForm and on WCF RIA Services by myself. At the moment of writing, I was already giving sessions on WCF RIA Services, so I had some prior experience with it. Next to that, I truly believe in the power of that framework: once you look past the commercial “RAD” tidbits, you find a really powerful, extensible framework. We actually use it as part of our base Silverlight reference architecture, which means most business applications we build are built with WCF RIA Services.

Q. What are the 3 most important recipes for creating rich, data-driven business applications?

A. I’d say: look into the advanced recipes, as they’re often a combination of various techniques: if you understand those, you’re good to go. I’d especially check out “Combining converters, data binding and DataContext into a custom DataTemplate” from chapter 3, “Communicating with a REST service using JSON” from chapter 8, and – especially if you’re building a framework – “Calling a WCF service from Silverlight using ChannelFactory” from chapter 7.

Q. The feedback received on the book so far is quite good! Do you have reader-suggested content that you might one to include in a second edition of this book?

Well, there’s a lot of content in the book, but: there’s also a lot of content we could (and probably will – Gill and I are looking into that at the moment J) add to a second edition. The Model-View-ViewModel design pattern is one of those things, as are Windows Phone recipes. And I’d say an extension to the RIA Services chapter could be added as well.

Q. The topic of data binding is bringing quite a lot of attention and discussion, judging by the attendee rate of Gill's latest webinar on data binding. Why? What kind of data-related issues have become prominent in the Silverlight community since the release of the book?

Learning how to use Data Binding, DataContext, the Observable / Observer pattern in Silverlight is, in my opinion, the most important technique any serious XAML developer should master, as it really leverages the power of XAML. It’s very, very powerful, but as a developer, it’s your responsibility: you can easily write code as you’re used to, but, in essence: if you’re writing code like “TextBox.Text = Person.Name”, you’re doing it wrong. That’s also why the MVVM design pattern is the de facto standard for XAML applications: it “forces” you to code “the XAML way”.

Q. Why do you think a Silverlight developer should get your book? What makes the book unique?

A. I think the book offers a nice mix of basic recipes and the more advanced stuff, and thus can be used a reference for every developer out there. The cookbook-principle of the book adds to that: look at the index, find your requirement, follow the recipe and you’re good to go. Of course, the fact that code is included for each recipe helps as well.

Q. How may our members contact you with feedback and questions on the chapters authored by you?

Anyone is free to contact me through my blog: http://blog.kevindockx.com/ with any feedback, questions or suggestions they might have.

Thanks Kevin for this interview! We hope you will continue contributing to creating useful online and offline resources for the Silverlight community!



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