HeavyJay writes "When I purchased QBASIC Programming for Dummies, I expected a clear, concise tutorial on how to construct programs in QBASIC. I'm new to the world of programming, and, having had luck with the Dummies series before, thought this the best place to start off. How very wrong I was." Read on for more; readers with recommendations for better (newer?) QBASIC books are encouraged to contribute.
I've read countless books and online tutorials on QBASIC, C++, PHP, and other various languages. I'm sure all you wise programmers can tell me the first sample program that comes to mind with any language, can't you? The classic 'Hello, world!' example. This easy app starts off would-be programmers with a level of confidence and understanding. To my surprise, Douglas Hergert decided not to use the ever-popular example program. So, you might be wondering, what did he use in it's place? A four-page-long currency converter.
This was Mistake #1.
The book started off making me feel stupider than I actually am. This oftentimes discourages readers from pursuing, and the book takes to the shelf, perhaps never to be picked up again. I've noticed that the best way to capture a reader's attention (and explain the most) is to start off with PRINT, INPUT, IF...THEN and GOTO. Then move on to loops, and get technical from there. It best prepares the reader for everything in store, rather than making them feel like idiots. The book didn't do this at all. It started off making in such a way that anyone without experience would be completely lost. IF...THEN doesn't even come in until the eleventh chapter, despite being one of the most important tools in the language!
So, what good can I say about the book? Not much, except that it came with some practical applications. This brings up another grievance I have with it, that being the lack of an accompanying disc. I feel every book on programming with long examples ought to come with a disc containing all example programs, so that the reader can tweak and observe them as he sees fit, without typing in five pages of code. The best way to learn is often by example, and discouraging lazy people doesn't help the learning process along.
Alas, the book does contain some humour, as it's other brothers and sisters from IDG often do. With chapter titles such as Text, Lies, and Videotape and How to Manage Arguments and Influence People, a book can't be completely bad.
Although I suggest beginners steer clear of this book, it can be useful to experienced programmers (supposing they don't think QBASIC a waste of time). It goes deeply into data structures, arrays, and databases. There are many helpful features, but it's definitely not a book to learn from.
You can purchase the QBASIC Programming for Dummies from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.