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Issue 11.6 ('Apple About Boxes')
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REVIEW

Introduction to Programming (book)

Issue: 11.6 (November/December 2013)
Author: Marc Zeedar
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 3,622
Starting Page Number: 14
Article Number: 11602
Related Web Link(s):

http://docs.xojo.com

Full text of article...

If you're reading this magazine, you're probably already too advanced to need this book, though you still may find it an interesting read. It's designed for those who've never done any programming. It's definitely ideal for students.

That said, I was curious about it and I've been wanting to check it out since it was announced at XDC last spring.

It's really quite excellent. It goes at a modest pace—not so fast as to be a firehose of overwhelming information, but not so slow that a person would get bored. The examples for each lesson vary from a few simple lines of code to actual applications, such as a word processor or web browser.

I was impressed with the structure of the book. I've written a lot of introductory programming material myself and one thing I've found that's challenging is that every bit of knowledge is tied to another piece of knowledge. So if you're explaining variables and you show some code like myString = "this text" you're suddenly explaining why quotation marks are used and that leads down a rabbit trail of data types and text to number conversions.

Brad does a great job of handling this problem. He's clearly carefully planned his examples to only require the knowledge he's provided so far, and only occasionally does he have to mention that a particular detail "will be explained later."

The book starts off with chapters on data types, loops, subroutines, arrays, events, and eventually delves into more complicated stuff like classes and object-oriented programming. Nothing gets too advanced—the book's only 360 pages—but there are chapters on pictures, network connections, databases, and even some tips and programming guidelines. For someone just getting started, it's a terrific introduction.

Note that while Xojo itself is used for the examples, the book is meant to teach general programming, not specifically Xojo. As such, it's of limited use to those of us already using Xojo, but if you have a child or friend who would like to learn programming (or is just curious), the book is definitely worth the download. And the free price is perfect!

End of article.