Slinging code the easy way
by Alan Zisman
(c) 2000. First
published in Toronto Computes
Beginning Programming for Dummies, by
Wallace Wang, IDG Books,
Visual Basic 6 for Dummies, by Wallace Wang,
IDG Books, $42.99;
Deluxe Compiler Kit, $59.99
Teach Yourself Visual Basic 6 in 24 Hours, by
with Sanjaya Hettihewa, Sams Publishing, $28.95
So you?re pretty handy with a computer, are you? You
play games, word
process, fiddle with graphics, even have your own web page.
Well, sorry. Unless you can also sling code?I mean,
you can?t call yourself ?computer literate?.
At least, that was the idea that made the rounds
during the first decade
or so of the personal computer. From about 1975 to 1985, its was widely
believed that in the not too-far distant future, we?d all be
Programming languages would be commonly taught in the high schools, in
place of, say, French or Spanish.
Somewhere along the way, though, that definition of
died out. Still, there?s a lot to be said for learning a little
It?s a great way to get a better sense of how a computer thinks. And
knows? You might even turn it into the start of a new career!
Wallace Wang?s Beginning Programming for Dummies is
another of the wildly
popular yellow-covered series, that has moved from its computer-roots
titles like Planning a Wedding for Dummies and more. With this book,
the series returns to its roots?computer literacy. This volume is
Your introduction to QBASIC and beyond. Some might find that a bit
is a DOS-based programming language that Microsoft included with DOS
5 and 6 in the early 1990s?surely, it has no place in this era of
Wang obviously thinks otherwise. He points out that
QBASIC is still
included in Windows 95 and 98 (though typically not installed), and
how it can still be used as a tool to understand a wide range of
concepts. At the same time, he doesn?t limit himself to QBASIC?the book
often compares a piece of code in QBASIC to the same code in C, Pascal,
or Java. Wang goes a bit beyond the BASIC basics with introductions to
working with arrays, pointers, object-oriented programming, sorts and
future. A solid intro for readers with interest but no background in
The same author takes us more firmly into the Windows
world with Visual
Basic 6 for Dummies, an updated book to accompany the latest version of
this popular Windows programming language. Like Visual Basic, itself,
book spends a lot of time making it easy to create a user interface.
it spends much less time on the actual programming needed to make the
do anything?the coding examples, while generally amusing, are too brief
to be really helpful. Several times, it suggests buying a companion,
Visual Basic for Dummies to learn what you may really need.
This book is available in a basic $42.99 version,
which includes a CD
with the book?s sample code and a set of demo-versions of commercial
Basic add-ins. The $59.99 Deluxe Compiler Kit adds a second CD with a
Working Model Edition. This can be used to create and save real Visual
Basic programs, but lacks a number of key features of the commercial
files, for example. Most importantly, despite the name, it?s lacking a
compiler?you can?t create EXE files that can run on their own.
Looking at the title of Sams Teach Yourself Visual
Basic 6 in 24 Hours,
it?s only fair to wonder whether you real can learn to program in a
Of course not! Like other books in the series, it?s organized into 24
if you do one an hour? well, you get the point.
Unlike the Dummy books, this volume lacks cartoons, or
with amusing choices. But well less funny, it?s a more solid
to VB programming, offering, for example, more in-depth examples,
losing the beginning reader. Each of the lessons ends with a quiz and
with the answers in the back.
24 Hours also includes a CD?in this case, along with
the source code
for the book?s examples, and a set of 3rd party product demos, and a
of Visual Basic 4.0 Control Creation Edition. While it may seem odd to
include an older edition, the two versions are similar enough that all
the sample code in the book can be run in version 5. Like the version
the deluxe Dummy edition, the Make command, to compile your work into a
stand-alone program is disabled.
Still, at about half the price, it?s twice the book.