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Visual C++ Windows Shell Programming Paperback – December, 1998

4.2 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The Windows shell provides much of the look and feel of the Windows 98/Windows NT 4 desktop, and it offers many new possibilities for writing better programs. Visual C++ 6 Windows Shell Programming provides an excellent guide to understanding and programming the Windows shell, in a book filled with expert tips and useful code.

The book begins with the basics of the Windows desktop and taskbar and gives an overview of programming techniques. Besides the simpler shell C API, there are COM objects for manipulating the shell. Next the book covers file programming, such as finding and copying files, before moving on to explain how to modify shortcuts. The author presents multiple techniques for opening new programs and documents and shows how to modify the system icon tray.

Later, the book turns to Windows shell COM objects and looks at working with folders and other desktop objects. Material on the Windows Scripting Host (for batch processing) is also very useful. The author creates a sample Windows metafile (.WMF) viewer as a fuller example. The book closes with some notable material on the new Web View feature in Windows 98.

Even if you don't plan on programming extensively with the Windows shell, the material in this book can demystify what the shell is and how it operates. Reading Visual C++ 6 Windows Shell Programming can help you understand how Windows 98 and the Active Desktop really work while teaching you to be a skilled C++ Windows shell developer. --Richard Dragan

From the Publisher

This is a breat book in which Dino fully analyzes the tools available for programming the shell, builds sample applications using Visual C++ and ATL, uncovers the workings behind the Windows Shell API and reveals how to create shell and namespace extensions using COM and ATL. It is for programmers with solid experience of Windows programming, and who are familiar with COM/ATL programming using Visual C++.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 673 pages
  • Publisher: Apress (December 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1861001843
  • ISBN-13: 978-1861001849
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 7.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,733,790 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Matthew Clower on December 3, 2000
The author, Dino Esposito, does excellent work in an instructional manner dealing with the customization of the Windows shell. There is an abundance of information located between the covers that will augment the comprehension the reader has about the Windows operating system as a whole. Many of the things that are in this book are available in other locations, such as MSDN and other articles available for free; however having a concentrated reference is very convenient.
Chapter 1-2: These chapters include a basic introduction to the way the Windows shell functions, and the various portions of the shell. It also introduces the Windows Application Programming Interface (API).
Chapter 3-6: Esposito explains how to work with files, including special folders, using the shell API functions SHFileOperation() and SHFileGetInfo(). Manipulating files, gathering information, and browsing for folders, it is all included. Certain Windows tasks such as working with shortcuts are explained programmatically.
Chapter 7-8: Chapter 7 introduces the concept of `invading' the shell using hooks and COM objects: using shell events or events within other processes to trigger your own events. Chapter 8 explains how to spawn processes programmatically.
Chapter 9-10: The first topic discussed deals with Windows icons, and then `invading' the Windows taskbar. This example can be used to take over any other process. Areas of the shell that are supposedly not very well known are covered; the recycling bin, formatting drives, etc.
Chapter 11-13: The Windows shell, `explorer.exe' is investigated. The author describes to the reader how explorer works, both the default actions taken and how to invoke certain behavior using the command line.
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I am a semi-advanced self taught C++ programmer. I use Borland's C++ Builder programming IDE. I found this book to be extremely valuable. It has provided me with more information on the pride and pitfalls of Windows 98/NT's shell implementation and API than I would've imagined. This is not a beginner's book. It won't hold your hand to get you through it's content. You will need a firm grasp of the Windows messaging system. Knowledge of and experience with the Win32 API is also important. While I am weak on COM technology (does it really provide things that can't be done in simpler ways, or are we just stuck with it?) I found that I could understand what was going on by (loosely) relating the COM objects and namespace extensions to C++ classes. This book does contain some typos and mistakes. You will have to know enough to spot them or else spend time on the author's erratta web page (haven't been there yet myself). This leads me to believe that the source code download isn't comprised of exactly the same code that's in the book. All in all, I truly wish I'd have found this book sooner. It could've saved me a great deal of time searching through many different resources for the answers to some of my recently overcome programming frustrations. I'm only halfway through the book and am already writing more robust applications. Who knew that my system tray based application would've been left (past tense) memory resident but unreachable whenever the Windows Shell was restarted! If you're serious about living with Windows...if you need to register an application or file type...if you want to use SHBrowseForFolder() better...if you can't figure out why the damned thing won't work and it's 3:00 am...BUY THIS BOOK.
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Recently I was tasked to develop a name space extension. Not knowing that much about the topic, I scoured the web for relevant information. Unfortunately this is an area that, in my opinion, is rather poorly documented. All I could find was a couple of articles written several years ago. Fortunately for me, I found Mr. Esposito's book, and found it very enlightening, and easy to read. It's the only book that I found that has a complete chapter dedicated to this rather niche topic. Obviously the book also spends a great deal of time covering the larger scope of shell programming. All in all, I would highly recommend this book for anyone interested in learning more about shell programming, and personally, I consider it mandatory reading for anyone who is planning on developing a name space extension. Selfishly, I only wish the entire book was dedicated to name space extension, oh well, I'll have to wait for that book...
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I wish Wrox Press would learn to edit books. They choose appealing subjects, but the books themselves just don't cut it. This is nothing against the authors, it is the editor(s), if any, that are causing the problems.
The book content is fairly good. Much of the info is taken from articles that appeared in MSJ, or from Nancy Klut's book on shell programming, but it does add some useful new information.
Unfortunately, the source code (which is not included with the book, but is a free download) does not compile. I tried two of the projects (Shell hooks and Context menu) and neither would compile under a vanilla VC 6 installation. I know it is not my compiler, because the errors are in syntax. I suspect, despite the forward's statements otherwise, that the code was built with VC 5 and never recompiled under 6.
In any event, you may want to buy this book if you don't have access to Nancy Klut's (or MSDN, where it is included) and don't want to dig through the back issues of MSJ.
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