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Playing Your First Round Technology Draft Choices

by Jim Minatel

For sports fans in the U.S., this is a special time of year. Football (American-style of course) is going full title at professional, college, and high school levels. Baseball playoffs are upon us. In a matter of days, college basketball teams will take to the court in their annual Midnight Madness season tipoff extravaganzas with Dickie V warming up his vocal chords. NASCAR is screaming toward the finish-line of its thrilling season-long Chase. OK, I'm just kidding about NASCAR, about which I really don't care. Racing season ended a month ago when the IndyCars idled as far as I'm concerned. But you get the point: There are more sports going on than the rabid fan can shake a bat at. If you're not careful, you run the risk of throwing out a thumb on the TV remote.

As I look at the new technologies on the field and warming up for programmers, I see a similar abundance. In the open source arena, we're excited about what's going on with PHP and Python. One of our first new PHP books in a while, Professional Joomla!, will help Web developers build and customize sites with this powerful PHP CMS. Be sure to check out the short excerpt from that about "Ajax and Joomla!" In Python, if you're looking for a way to cut your development time and concentrate on coding to meet your business needs instead of site plumbing, we've got a two-for-one book, Professional Python Frameworks: Web 2.0 Programming with Django and Turbogears, covering both of those popular MVC frameworks in one swing.

On the Microsoft front, we just saw the first release of Silverlight, their cross-browser cross-platform technology for delivering rich, interactive applications on the Web. Wrox is happy to have one of the first Silverlight books available, Silverlight 1.0, written by four experts from Infragistics. The authors have been involved with building real Silverlight applications and components and, I think, have as much experience with how real Web developers will put Silverlight to use as anyone. From that book, we've also got a short Wrox.com excerpt article, "Building Silverlight Video Applications."

Beyond those, we know developers are also looking at LINQ from Microsoft, Google Gears, the next generation of Silverlight, and Adobe AIR. The vendors and organizations are throwing new technology fastballs faster than Roger Clemons in his prime. How do you keep up? Unless you can read a whole programming book a week, you are probably feeling like you're falling behind. So, this month Wrox is launching Wrox Blox a new, shorter format for you to learn from on some of these hot, breaking technologies. Wrox Blox are not only short, but also available immediately as downloads. And, we've taken what we think is a groundbreaking step with these excerpts by selling them in DRM-free format. Yes, you read that right, no DRM. While there are usage restrictions that we know our customers will follow (please see any of the following Wrox Blox pages to see how you can and can't use them) you're not going to have to fight some nasty DRM scheme to read this short Wrox Blox. In short: We trust you.

So, here are the first few Wrox Blox topics, available now at the introductory price of $3.99 U.S. for a limited time:

That's really just the top of the batting order for the Wrox Blox. Expect to see a few new Wrox Blox every month with more coming very soon about Google Gears, WPF and XAML UI development, Adobe AIR, and more.

And while, yes, we'll admit to some fascination with all of these shiny new first-round draft choice technologies that are proven on the court, we'll also big fans of the perennial MVP players like ASP 3. There's been no bigger utility player willing to do anything for the team than ASP 3. With the great attitude and record ASP 3 has posted, this was a natural choice for one more Wrox pilot project we've rolled out this month: the ASP 3 Wiki at asp3wiki.wrox.com. This wiki contains the complete contents of one of the best-selling programming books of the last 10 years, Beginning Active Server Pages 3.0. Since we know there's still a huge installed base of ASP 3 in use because of its ease of use, we're making this resource freely available to everyone to read online. That's more than 1,200 print pages of free content. If you'd like to comment on any of the pages, you'll need to register, which is also free. Wiki purists will cringe in that we're not immediately opening up page editing and authoring functions to everyone who registers, but please keep in mind this is a pilot project. We hope to learn from how you use this wiki just as you learn and refer to the ASP 3 content there. And from what we learn, we'll decide how to best use this wiki and others in the future.

Wow, I'm exhausted just writing about all of this. I feel like I just finished the Chicago Marathon. Hey, there's a sport I missed — it's fall marathon season, too!