If you are building applications that could use a dashboard then I would recommend taking a look at the PacktPub book “Microsoft Silverlight 5: Building Rich Enterprise Dashboards”. The book focuses on using Silverlight 5 to construct various dashboards and provides guidelines on how to achieve this from start to finish. Along the way are useful tips and tricks and gotchas that can be found when dealing with the various aspects of building a dashboard.
The flow of this book is a bit off. Things start off with the general “What is Silverlight 5?” and “Why should I use Silverlight for a dashboard?” questions that are answered at a high level. Reading further starts to answer what dashboards are and how to use Silverlight to build a dashboard. Next comes connecting your data to the dashboard followed by how to integrate your Silverlight dashboard into SharePoint. Going from one chapter to the next has a slight rhythm about it, but it feels disconnected most of the time as if each author took a chapter to write and in the end everything was copied and pasted into this book. One good thing about this approach is that a reader can jump between chapters and still understand what each chapter brings to the table.
The entire book covers many topics … too many topics in my opinion. The number of topics would not be discomforting if each topic delved into more detail; however, most of the topics are at a 30,000 foot level and leave the reader wanting to know more. For example, the book covers the Model View View-Model (MVVM) pattern and describes what it is and why it is a good pattern to follow using Silverlight. This is good but the chapters start to talk about specifics related to MVVM and do not provide enough detail. The delegate command is mentioned in a couple of lines with an example of how to create a delegate command but no information on how (or why) to use the delegate command. If the reader looks closely at the other examples throughout the book then one can infer how to use a delegate command but not the importance of it. There are many more topics explained in the same manner throughout this book and each of these topics really needs more detail to highlight their importance.
The crux of the book is about building dashboards using Silverlight 5 and the authors do accomplish this. There are a couple of chapters that really shine about dashboards and how Silverlight can be used to easily build a dashboard. With the majority of this book covering many topics about Silverlight the overall goal of learning how to build a dashboard is lost.
With so many topics being covered at a high level this book is not for Silverlight beginners. Having a good understanding of what Silverlight is and the features that are in Silverlight will help readers take advantage of this book. If you are new to Silverlight pay close attention to the many topics that are talked about in this book and do some research when you come across the topics to get a better idea of what that feature does and its importance.
One thing I found very distracting were the code examples. Most of them had spaces missing between words. It was very difficult to read the code to gain a better understanding of the topic at hand. This makes the code almost useless to have in the book, please get this fixed!
The book does cover many of the key aspects needed to build a great dashboard with the correct technologies in Silverlight. However, pay close attention to the various technologies that are in each chapter and do enough research to understand these technologies as they are important in constructing your dashboard. If you do you will be able to build a great dashboard using Silverlight.
To wrap things up I would recommend this book if you are interested in building a dashboard using Silverlight. Don’t expect too much from this book as a majority of the chapters focus on the basic (and advanced) building blocks of Silverlight at a high level. It is a quick read and worth your time if you are of a particular audience looking to build a dashboard in Silverlight.