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Book Review: Visual Basic 2005 Cookbook by Tim Patrick and John Clark Craig

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Let’s face it, when you are being paid as a developer, you are being paid to get a job done and not to learn how to do the job. As a developer, I am always finding myself in situations that, while not impossible, are sometimes unfamiliar. When I am in that mode, I spend a fair amount of time researching my problem and trying to understand what is the best solution. This is where Visual Basic 2005 Cookbook comes in.

The Visual Basic 2005 Cookbook is more than just a collection of little tricks and tips to help you learn concepts. It is a well thought out, well laid out book that allows you to quickly find the concepts that you need to solve your problem. Containing more than 300 ‘recipes,’ Visual Basic 2005 Cookbook covers controls, forms strings, math, dates, arrays, multimedia, printing, databases web development, and more. Each section contains between fifteen and forty-five solutions.

Each recipe contains an explanation of the problem, a solution to the problem, and a discussion of the techniques. For example, in the special programming techniques chapter there is a recipe for monitoring file and directory changes. The solution is straightforward. The authors suggest using the FileSystemWatcher object and explain that this object will let you adjust the type of files or changes to monitor and that it contains distinct events for most types of changes.

The discussion takes up three pages analyzing the problem and showing how you can build a test program that watches for changes in a selected directory. The test program is much more than a trivial snippet: you can turn features on and off, you can use wild cards for selecting the files to be watched, and it will display the types of changes that were made to the file.

Are all the recipes in Visual Basic 2005 Cookbook this detailed? Of course not! Most are a page to a page and a half long. A few are less than a page and some — like the one above — are more than two pages. One of the things that I like about this book is that it does not waste my time with more than what is needed to accomplish a job. For example, in the forms section, there is a recipe that is called “Centering a form.” This is a trivial thing to do, unless of course you have never had to do it before. Sometimes, you are in a situation that you have done this before, and cannot quite remember the command to accomplish the task. A quick look and you have it.

There was once an old story about Peter Norton of Norton Antivirus fame that his son had a friend over to his house to play and his son’s friend asked what his dad did for a living and his son’s reply was “he looks things up.” I will make no warrant to the truth of this story, but I will concur that in my life as a developer, I am constantly looking for better ways of accomplishing tasks as well as learning how to do new tasks well. To this end, I will always seek out references that will prove valuable. One of these will be Visual Basic 2005 Cookbook.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.