Book Review: SignalR – Real Time Application Development

I have recently been asked by Packtpub to review the latest book by Einar Ingebrigtsen, SignalR – Real Time Application Development.

There is a good preface describing what SignalR sets out to achieve, explaining its communication protocol abstraction. The protocol fall back functionality that SignalR provides is explained well at a high level. Some readers may have wanted a lower level explanation but the JavaScript which handles this functionality is fairly straight forward and easy to follow.

The author has opted for a chat application to develop throughout the book which is the same example as every other tutorial on the web. Chat applications are a solved problem and I think an enterprise style application would have been a better choice to give a fresh perspective. For example I did a presentation to my colleagues at work using a stock price application. Despite saying that, to the authors credit they have added a WinRT example to the end of the book which I think is a nice touch.

PersistentConnections and Hubs get a nice overview, especially describing state sharing between client and server as this is not generally something that developers think about doing. Up to this point the book has been covering the basics of getting started with SignalR. It’s fairly simple to use and developers should be able to get up and running within a few hours. The really interesting parts start in the following chapters.

Security is always a concern when developing any web application. SignalR provides built in security using Forms Authentication. It’s possible to secure HTML pages without the use of ASPX pages which is not immediately obvious to .NET developers. The tutorial to do this has been well described and documented with plenty of screen shots to keep you on the right path. This was actually new to me and I have been using ASPX pages to secure my websites.

Scaling software can be a daunting ask and nearly always comes with complexities. SignalR has some great out the box solutions for this. The chapter for scaling may seem too short but the abstraction layer to do this is incredibly simple to set up. The author explains why we need our SignalR instances to communicate with each other and shows the reader what the messages look like. All 3 of the out of the box solutions are covered with full examples of how to get your web farm up and running.

SignalR is a simple technology to use and this book does a great job of explaining how to use it. It’s the perfect companion for anyone wanting to get started with it. The book is a good read and provides clear and concise examples for the API.

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