Most helpful positive review
34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
Excellent explanation of the core Win32 API for GUI apps
on December 14, 2000
I am an experienced software engineer with a Unix/X Window System background and needed to get up to speed on the Win32 API without being coddled like a child or taught how to program. I looked at Win32 books for several months before I found this book on the shelf.
I like the organization of the book which starts with the core of a well-behaved Win32 application and moves on to bigger and better things with each chapter. I learned many good Win32 programming habits, such as the proper use of Unicode and <tchar.h>, proper message loop structuring, and so-on from this book. These lessons in Win32 programming were learned the hard way (from the school of hard knocks also called "experience") by the authors so that I didn't have to suffer the same torturous fate.
The authors start with the core of a Win32 application and then move through the core GDI objects: device contexts, fonts, windows, etc. Then they proceed to examine all the common controls one by one with an exhaustive reference of all their messages.
Along the way, the authors point out places where porting from Win16 to Win32 might be a problem, as well as pointing out known bugs in the MSDN documentation and the Win32 implementation, referencing knowledge base articles for more detail. I also found the advice for those transitioning from a unix background helpful.
This might not be the best book for a beginner that has never written a GUI application before, but if you're familiar with the basics of event driven GUI applications from other window systems (AmigaOS, BeOS, MacOS or X Window System), then this book will teach you what you need to know about Win32 without wasting your time explaining things that you already know and understand.
If you are a complete beginner, you might be better off with a different book to start with, but still might enjoy this book as a reference once you've got the basics down. When I asked around on usenet about Win32 books, many people suggested Richter's book. I looked at Richter's book many times but it just didn't move me to buy it because I wanted a book that was a more exhaustive reference and one that didn't assume I was a beginner programmer.
Several people said "Yeah, I learned from Richter, but /Win32 Programming/ is the book I keep on the shelf. Once I read through Richter, I didn't use it anymore." Another factor is that /Win32 Programming/ is hardback, which makes it stand up to lots of use on a day-to-day basis.