Reader yamla writes with the following review of Mike and Phani's Essential C++ Techniques from APress. Yamla finds a few bright spots in this book, but also several weaknesses. Read on to see whether you fit into the group he says would find this book useful.
The major problemThis book has one killer problem: It is not aimed at C++ programmers. Let me be more specific here; it is not aimed at ANSI C++ programmers. Instead, it is aimed at Microsoft Visual C++ 6.0 programmers.
Is this a big deal? Yes. The cover of the book is rife with mentions of C++. It even mentions ANSI C++. There is one, and only one, reference to Visual C++ on the cover of the book. Even inside, the index lists only three references to Visual Studio, none to Visual C++. With quotes such as 'Hundreds of tips and techniques for advanced C++ programmers' on the cover, I was very surprised to realise this book is for Visual C++ 6.0 users only. At best, the cover of this book is misleading.
The rest of this review (and the book's rating) assumes you are still interested in the book. You therefore use only Visual C++ 6.0 and have no plans to upgrade.
For a book apparently aimed at intermediate and advanced programmers, this book contains a lot of tips that any experienced beginner should already know. Techniques such as ensuring you never return a pointer to an automatic variable really have no place in a book with the stated audience. Really, this book would be more suited to programmers who were still learning C++.
Except there are a number of other issues that make this book poorly suited to people learning C++. Instead of using standard C++ strings, this book chooses NULL-terminated C strings. Files are not included the C++ way (cstdio instead of stdio.h, iostream instead of iostream.h). The STL is not mentioned at all, with dynamic arrays having their own chapter rather than a simple mention of vectors and with an entire chapter devoted to code for sorting instead of showing the programmer how to use the STL sorting algorithms. The smart pointers? Either use the built-in autoptr or use boost.org's vastly superior implementation.
Some good stuff
This book is not completely without redeeming qualities. Many of these techniques are good and useful. If you are a new Visual C++ 6.0 programmer and you are learning from a substandard text, you may find this book covers some of the shortfalls of your other textbook. Similarly, if you are taking a class in C++ and your instructor is particularly lousy, this book could help you out.
Mike and Phani's Essential C++ Techniques is useless to any other than the beginning Visual C++ 6.0 student. It ignores ANSI C++ to focus instead on Microsoft's implementation. It contains a number of stylistic problems, relying far too heavily on C instead of the facilities provided by C++. And finally, it only covers techniques any reasonably experienced C++ programmer should already know.
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