Some weeks ago I received a review copy of Silverlight 4 in Action by Pete Brown. Reviewing this book took some time as it weighs in at a hefty 798 pages, who ever said that Silverlight was a small products? That is a lot of material but then the book doesn't assume any prior knowledge of Silverlight at all.
The book is divided into 25 chapters in 3 different sections.
The first part, consisting of 10 chapters, is titled "Introducing Silverlight". As the name suggests this covers the basics of Silverlight development. This section is mostly targeted at developers new to Silverlight and covers subjects like what XAML is, how the Silverlight plug-in works with the browser, basic layout and the Silverlight controls and how they work with things like templates.
The second part is titled "Structuring your application". This section is divided into 7 chapters and build on top of the first part. In this section there are chapters about data binding, input validation, communicating and even about subjects like MVVM and WCF RIA services. Some of these topics, like for example MVVM, are quite large to begin with and the definitive word hasn't been said about it. In these cases the book is a nice point to get started but no more than that and getting additional information on the Internet is pretty much a requirement. In most cases, like validation. Pete has a pretty solid coverage of the material the book will help you understand what you need to know.
The third part is titled "Completing the experience" and consist of a final 8 chapters. This section covers subjects like printing, working with media like smooth streaming or using the webcam and microphone. There are also chapters on animations, using resources and creating custom controls.
So who is this book for? With a book this big covering that many topics the book is really targeted at a wide range of developers. It does assume the reader is familiar with C# and the .NET framework but assumes no familiarity with Silverlight at all. So if you are an experienced .NET developer wanting to get into Silverlight this is a good book to start with using part 1. You you are already a Silverlight developer moving from Silverlight 3 to Silverlight 4 this book will also be quite helpful. You will find a lot of material you are already familiar with but also a lot of new material like web cam support and WCF RIA services or extended validation options. In that case this book would be a useful reference to keep handy and read specific chapters from par 2 or 3 when needed.
All in all I would recommend getting this book if you are serious about Silverlight 4 development!