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