Fluent Visual Basic
Author: Rebecca M. Riordan
Publisher: Sams
Pages: 880
ISBN: 978-0672335808
Aimed at: Beginners
Rating: 1
Pros: Covers a lot of material; some good explanations
Cons: Gimmicky design hinders understanding; conversion from C# shows
Reviewed by: Ian Elliot

Another approach to teaching you how to code using Visual Basic.  Can an old fashioned approach to a modern subject work?

Whoever had the idea for this form of presentation was clearly trying to creating a genre like the Head First, Dummies or Idiots guides. In this case the result is not a great success. The first problem, and for many readers it is going to be a very big problem, is the use of brown ink on a yellow printed paper - an attempt to make the book look old. It might look old but it makes it very difficult to read. Add to this the use of a script font and it is even more difficult to read. When the script font is used for program listings you immediately know that this book is a triumph of design over knowledge. It is very sad.

 

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The contents of the book are also very variable. For a beginner it starts off by explaining concepts which are quite unnecessary and could be left for later or for another book. When we do get to an exposition of the language the pace is too rushed and not really understanding of the problems that beginners have. The strange language used to introduce the ideas - nouns, transitive verbs and so on - might reinforce the style of the book but they do nothing for understanding.

What is more surprising is that, for a beginner's book, it attempts to cover a lot of material. As well as the basics of the language, it also covers the framework, object oriented design theory and WPF.

There are also places where it is obvious that the author hasn't quite finished converting the code and diagrams from the C# version of the book. While this might be ok for an advanced book it is just going to confuse the beginner - as if there weren't enough things to confuse the beginner in this book.

There are some parts of the book that, if you can ignore the presentation, are good. Some of the detailed explanations of how some of the short examples work break down what is happening into easy-to-understand concept. It all suggests that with more time expended on the text to remove the errors, a complete restructuring to remove the complicated topics unsuitable for the beginner and a makeover to turn it into a more normal book then it might be worth something.

As it is the book is simply a triumph of marketing and design over common sense. Don't bother buying a copy unless you like mock olden style and difficult to read text.

 

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Coders at Work: Reflections on the Craft of Programming

Author: Peter Seibel
Publisher: Apress, 2009
Pages: 617
ISBN: 978-1430219484
Aimed at: All programmers
Rating: 2.5
Pros: A good concept
Cons: Unexpectedly boring
Reviewed by: Ian Elliot

A series of interviews between a programmer and some of the best known names in programming. Does this format work?



Head First HTML5 Programming

Author:Eric Freeman, Elisabeth Robson
Publisher: O'Reilly
Pages: 608
ISBN:978-1449390549
Aimed at: Beginning JavaScript programmers
Rating: 4
Pros: Easy introduction if you like the approach
Cons: Repetitive and drawn out
Reviewed by: Mike James

You need to know about modern web programming aka HTML [ ... ]


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