The Solution section of each chapter will contain the instructions and actual code for implementing all the features and requirements outlined and designed in the previous sections. For this first chapter, however, I'll give you a more detailed description of exactly what the following chapters will cover, so that you can get a good idea of what the final result will be like.
In Chapter 2 you'll build the site's design, the graphics, and the layout that's shared among all pages of the site, through the use of master pages, new in ASP.NET 2.0. You will also use themes — another new feature introduced by ASP.NET 2.0 — to create a couple of different visual appearances for the same master page, and create a mechanism to enable users to select their own favorite theme from a dropdown list, so that they can change the colors and overall appearance of the site according to their taste and possible visual impediments. Finally, a flexible and easy to maintain navigation system will be built by means of the new Web.sitemap file and the Menu and SiteMapPath controls.
In Chapter 3 you'll lay down the foundations for building a flexible, easily configurable, and instrumented site. First of all, there will be a pluggable data access layer (DAL) that can support any type of data store, and scalable to offer the best performance even under high usage. Then a business logic layer will be built on the top of the DAL to expose the data in an object-oriented way, with the required validation logic, transaction management, event logging, and caching. Finally, you'll look at the UI and presentation layer, which takes advantage of the new GridView, DetailsView, and FormView controls and the companion ObjectDataSource to quickly generate complex and feature-rich, data-driven pages.
In Chapter 4 you'll integrate ASP.NET 2.0's new membership infrastructure into the site, to create user registration forms and supporting logic to authenticate/authorize users. You'll also discover the new Profile module, which allows you to declaratively define user-level properties that are automatically persisted to a durable medium, quite different from the well-known traditional Session state variables that only last as long as the user browses the site on one occasion. A complete management console will be built to enable administrators to see the list of members, disable members that behave badly on the site, and view and edit each user's profile.
In Chapter 5 you'll build a sort of Content Management System, a module that enables administrators to completely manage the site's articles from an intuitive UI, accessible also by nontechnical users. The module will integrate with the built-in membership system to secure the module and track the authors of the articles, and will have a syndication service that publishes an RSS feed of recent content for a specific category, or for every category, and will support ratings and comments, among many other features. The result will be quite powerful, enabling the editor to prepare richly formatted content in advance, and schedule it for automatic publication and retirement, so that the site's content updates are as simple as possible, and require the least effort and time. At the end of the chapter, you will have experienced almost everything you can do with the new GridView, DetailsView, and ObjectDataSource controls, which are used to bind the UI to data coming from real object-oriented business classes, which themselves obtain data from a data access layer.
In Chapter 6 you'll implement a solution for creating and managing multiple dynamic polls on the web site. It will feature an administration console for managing the polls through a web browser, a user control that enables you to plug different polls into any page you want with just a couple of lines of code, as well as a history page for viewing archived polls.
In Chapter 8 you'll create a forums system from scratch, which supports multiple subforums with optional moderation, lists threads and replies through custom pagination and with different sorting options, has wide support for standard RSS feeds, configurable user rating, signatures and quoting, and other features typical of most recent forum software. Complete administration features (deleting, editing, approving, moving, and closing threads and posts) will also be provided.
In Chapter 9 you'll add a working e-commerce store with most of the essential features, including a complete catalog and order management system, a persistent shopping cart, integrated online payment via credit cards, product ratings, product stock availability, rich formatting of a product's descriptions, including text and images, configurable shipping methods and order statuses, and much more. All this will be implemented in relatively few pages, since it will leverage the good foundations built in previous chapters, and of course the ASP.NET 2.0 built-in membership and profile systems, and other new features and controls, such as the ubiquitous GridView, DetailsView, and ObjectDataSource, plus the Wizard and MultiView controls.
In Chapter 10 you'll explore the Web Part Framework, one of the coolest and most striking new features of ASP.NET 2.0, and use it to easily add support for home page personalization. You'll promote some user controls developed earlier in the book into Web Parts, which are boxes of content that can be dragged around the page by the user, and whose properties can be customized at runtime by means of a simple and dynamically built UI, and which can be added and removed to/from pages according to the user's interests and preferences. You'll be impressed by the small amount of code needed to achieve a result that only advanced sites and portal framework (such as Windows SharePoint Services) have typically offered in the past.
In Chapter 11 you'll make the site's home page fully localizable to an additional language and will support the user's preferred locale settings when displaying dates and numbers. All this can now be done easily with ASP.NET 2.0, thanks to its automatic resource generation, implicit and explicit localization expressions, strongly typed and dynamically compiled global resources, and good Visual Studio designer support.
Finally, in Chapter 12 you'll look the different ways to deploy an ASP.NET 2.0 site, either on a local IIS server or to a remote production site, or to an inexpensive shared hosting server. The new ASP.NET compilation model enables you do use a simple XCOPY deployment that includes everything, but lacks protection of source code, and takes a little time to compile on first requests. If that's a problem for you, you will see how you can use the new command-line tools and Visual Studio's wizards to pre-compile the site and generate one or more compiled assemblies to deploy. You'll also learn how to deploy the local SQL Server Express database to a remote full-featured SQL Server 2005 instance, and how you can create installer packages for distributing the application to automate as many installation tasks as possible.