Visual Basic (6th Ed)

Author: Mike McGrath
Publisher: Easy Steps
Pages: 192
ISBN: 978-1840788723
Print:1840788720
Kindle: B07VKPKCK1
Audience: Beginners
Rating: 4
Reviewer: Lucy Black

This is a colorful short book. This makes it very suitable as an introduction for the complete beginner. 

Each chapter is just a few pages in length and contains lots of boxouts with warnings and gotchas as is the style for all Easy Steps books. The big decision that you have to make and possibly the downside of this book is should you learn Visual Basic at all? Since the upheaval at Microsoft the whole .NET project has been on the back burner. Now there are signs that it might be about to become important again, but Visual Basic .NET is still mostly a second class programming language with C# being the favourite child. So unless you need to maintain an existing program, or perhaps work with VBA, I'm not sure I could recommend Visual Basic as a first language - Python or JavaScript would probably be better. 

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The first chapter starts off telling you how to download and install Visual Studio Community edition. Visual Studio is one of the best IDEs but it has now grown so large as to be confusing for a beginner. The use of the community edition is about the only major change in this new edition and this is reasonable as changes to Visual Basic in the most recent version don't concern the beginner.

Then it starts to explain what programming is all about using the form designer as a way of introducing objects and properties. This is probably the best way to make a difficult idea easy, as it is clear that a button or whatever you place on a form is indeed an object. The only problem is that after this the book tends to present topics in their entirety rather than just as much as a beginner needs to know to. For example, Chapter 3 deals with the use of each control in the toolbar. It would have been better to introduce each control as and when it made sense within later chapters. In particular the Timer control is quite a different thing to the others.

Chapter 4 on learning the language is a bit on the short side for a complete beginner to soak up the deep ideas of conditionals and loops. Be prepared to give this time to sink in before you move on to later chapters that assume that you have mastered the ideas.

From Chapter 4 on the book adopts a task-oriented approach and explains the ideas it needs to complete each task. Chapter 5 is about building an application and Chapter 6 is about solving problems - a general how to deal with debugging. Chapter 7 extends the user interface with menus, dialogs and images.

Chapter 8 deviates from core Visual Basic with a look at VBA. It would probably have been better to omit this from the book as it is simply a detour from the main task of learning VB proper. A beginner probably has enough to cope with and the book is limited in length. Chapter 9 is a slightly odd look at the role of data in a program and covers using text files, Excel, XML and RSS. The final chapter is on databases proper and, once again, it is probably a step too far for the beginner.

Overall, this is quite a good book for the beginner but you need to keep in mind that it is a short book and the explanations are brief to allow it to cover a wide range of topics. If you really are a complete beginner than the pace will probably be too fast and you will have to allow some time for things to settle in your head before moving on.

The big advantage of the book is that it looks friendly, and it isn't intimidating. It might well get you started but it obviously can't teach you everything. Recommended, but with some reservations about the almost off-topic deviations from core VB.

 

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Modern PHP

Author: Josh Lockhart
Publisher: O'Reilly 
Pages: 268
ISBN: 9781491905012
Print: 1491905018
Kindle: B00TKVLL26
Audience: Developers with experience of PHP
Rating: 3
Reviewer: Alex Armstrong 

PHP, a modern language? Yes it is now but how do you convert from using it as [ ... ]



SQL Queries for Mere Mortals 4th Ed

Author: John L. Viescas
Publisher: Addison Wesley
Pages: 960
ISBN: 978-0134858333
Print: 0134858336
Kindle: B079G27STM
Audience: Developers working with data
Rating: 5
Reviewer:Kay Ewbank

This is an updated version of a classic book teaching SQL. It's an excellent choice if you don't know SQL a [ ... ]


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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 11 February 2020 )