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by Ross Mack - GUI Computing

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An instruction book for your career in Visual Basic programming.

I sometimes think it's amazing that the computer industry produces such a wealth of printed material. There are a huge number of manuals, how-to books, guides, and reference books available covering everything from COBOL programming to creating your own Web sites. I often find, in fact, that there are so many worthy references available I'm at a loss to decide on which I need to have. However, sometimes one just leaps out of the shelves at me (sometimes signalling that the shelves are soon to follow). This happened to me recently, leading to the discovery of a book called "The Art of Visual Basic Programming" by Mark Warhol.

The author is a Visual Basic programmer of some experience, he is not an academic, or a writer (normally), and he does not claim to know it all. However, he has been working with Visual Basic for some time and has, to a large degree, "been there and done that". The approach the book takes is to offer advice on how to be an effective Visual Basic programmer. In many ways it is an ideal reference for those starting their first Visual Basic programming job (as well as for more seasoned VB programmers). The technical knowledge will come - but it's the war stories and general advice that Warhol provides that will probably prove more useful than knowledge of any API calls (even SendMessage, my personal favourite).

Warhol's book includes sections on SQL, API, and dealing with focus. However, what he presents in these sections are not examples of syntax to use or an explanation of available functionality. Instead they feature a selection of tricks and traps Warhol has encountered in the real world, trying to meet deadlines and satisfy the end users. Having worked with Visual Basic for some time, many of the problems dealt with in these sections sounded very familiar. Furthermore, the suggestions Warhol makes for work-arounds and solutions tend to make sense.

I can't say I agree with every opinion and method presented in this book, however the reading of it at least makes you think about the issues. Also, the general advice given comes from someone who is qualified to give it, by virtue of experience. Anyway, you can always choose to disagree.

The style is friendly and easy to read, and often humorous. Indeed the last section is a rollicking glossary of useful definitions presented with tongue planted firmly in cheek, covering programming and corporate terms. This is almost as invaluable as the advice given on how to deal with people in suits holding meetings - always a trial for programmers.

GUI Computing does not sell this book, and we have no connection with the author. If you are interested in getting hold of a copy I can only suggest you try your friendly neighbourhood technical bookstore.

Mark Warhol is Senior Programming Analyst for the biotechnology firm of Enzon. While he does most of his programming work in Visual Basic, he also programs in COBOL and PowerBuilder.


Copyright 1995 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
605 Third Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10158-0012
New York / Chichester / Brisbane / Toronto / Singapore

Written by: Ross Mack
April 96

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