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Sams Teach Yourself Visual Basic 6 in 21 Days, Professional Reference

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"Wordy and plodding, but a nicely paced introduction to the Visual Basic world."

This book has all the earmarks of a series designed in-house. This is a bad thing. It means the book contains elements that obviously are the result of compromises made by people sitting through endless meetings and eventually settling on the most stubborn person's ideas because, well, everyone was tired and wanted to go home and watch the Pacers game on TV. And none of those people actually have read any computer books, let alone tried to learn a programming language from one.

The in-house style earmarks are aplenty: the ubiquitous Do and Do Not sidebars; Note and Tip boxes; the New Term paragraphs; Summaries; Q&As; Workshops; and end-of-chapter quizzes and exercises. Gadzooks. Whatever happened to an experienced programmer trying to explain the best way to learn something in well-written, down-to-earth, right-to-the-point prose? Well, you won't find it here, not in your allotted three weeks.

On the plus side, this book does have you create your first program on page 24 (day one), which is pretty quick. It's not really a program, though--it's a "project," or something that Visual Basic can whip together for anyone who's ever used one of the Windows wizards. Is that cheating? I don't know. But I'll give Greg Perry a happy face for letting the reader actually do something at that early stage of the game.

As with any book on Visual Basic, the decision is whether to document the programming language or the application environment first. Like everyone else, Perry documents the environment for the first week or so. (At which point I'm beginning to wonder whether any book will bother to document the programming language itself.) And I do admire his logical flow; the days and weeks build on each other nicely. The pace is pretty even throughout the book.

On the downside, the book has no soul. It's really routine and, well, kind of boring. The programs lack some of the insanity you would find in Wally Wang's Dummies book. But I do like the way Perry presents the steps--at over 800 pages, he gives his steps the space they need. Not bad, but, peppered with some insights, it could have been better. --Dan Gookin

Sams Teach Yourself Visual Basic 6 in 21 Days, Professional Reference Edition adds to the already solid tutorial to provide a long lasting Visual Basic reference section. This 200-page section adds coverage of common control properties, methods, and events, and many other Visual Basic referential materials. Additional special Bonus Project sections allow you to apply what you have learned in practical real-world examples. After reading this book, you will be able to create ActiveX controls, use object linking and embedding (OLE), write Visual Basic programs that support multiple document interface, and much more. This Professional Reference Edition covers all current Service Packs as well as work-arounds for known problems in Visual Basic 6.

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