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QBASIC Programming for Dummies 630

Posted by timothy
from the truth-in-nomenclature dept.
HeavyJay writes "When I purchased QBASIC Programming for Dummies, I expected a clear, concise tutorial on how to construct programs in QBASIC. I'm new to the world of programming, and, having had luck with the Dummies series before, thought this the best place to start off. How very wrong I was." Read on for more; readers with recommendations for better (newer?) QBASIC books are encouraged to contribute.
QBASIC Programming for Dummies
author Douglas Hergert
pages 399
publisher IDG Books Worldwide, Inc
rating 5 out of 10
reviewer HeavyJay
ISBN 1568840934
summary "The Fun and Easy Way to Learn QBasic Programming."

I've read countless books and online tutorials on QBASIC, C++, PHP, and other various languages. I'm sure all you wise programmers can tell me the first sample program that comes to mind with any language, can't you? The classic 'Hello, world!' example. This easy app starts off would-be programmers with a level of confidence and understanding. To my surprise, Douglas Hergert decided not to use the ever-popular example program. So, you might be wondering, what did he use in it's place? A four-page-long currency converter.

This was Mistake #1.

The book started off making me feel stupider than I actually am. This oftentimes discourages readers from pursuing, and the book takes to the shelf, perhaps never to be picked up again. I've noticed that the best way to capture a reader's attention (and explain the most) is to start off with PRINT, INPUT, IF...THEN and GOTO. Then move on to loops, and get technical from there. It best prepares the reader for everything in store, rather than making them feel like idiots. The book didn't do this at all. It started off making in such a way that anyone without experience would be completely lost. IF...THEN doesn't even come in until the eleventh chapter, despite being one of the most important tools in the language!

So, what good can I say about the book? Not much, except that it came with some practical applications. This brings up another grievance I have with it, that being the lack of an accompanying disc. I feel every book on programming with long examples ought to come with a disc containing all example programs, so that the reader can tweak and observe them as he sees fit, without typing in five pages of code. The best way to learn is often by example, and discouraging lazy people doesn't help the learning process along.

Alas, the book does contain some humour, as it's other brothers and sisters from IDG often do. With chapter titles such as Text, Lies, and Videotape and How to Manage Arguments and Influence People, a book can't be completely bad.

Although I suggest beginners steer clear of this book, it can be useful to experienced programmers (supposing they don't think QBASIC a waste of time). It goes deeply into data structures, arrays, and databases. There are many helpful features, but it's definitely not a book to learn from.


You can purchase the QBASIC Programming for Dummies from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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QBASIC Programming for Dummies

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  • by (54)T-Dub (642521) * <tpaine@@@gmail...com> on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:31AM (#6191709) Journal
    Isn't "QBASIC Programming for Dummies" a bit redundant?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I'm recommending "PERL for Dummies" or in the worst case "WTF are you using QBASIC for, Dummy!"
    • Re:Redundant??? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by WndrBr3d (219963) * on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:36AM (#6191774) Homepage Journal
      You know, flame all you want but we all know everyone started in this programming language. And if you were any good at it, you could make some pretty dope applications. I mean, what better way to show off to your junior high programming class than making a DOS based Paintbrush application by hooking the mouse interrupt.

      Didn't get me any women, but it (QBasic) as a good springboard into computers.
      • by jcast (461910)
        You got to start in QBasic? You don't know how lucky you are. Back when I started, we had to line-number our programs. And we were grateful!
        • We had to use pascal in high school. But atleast by that time I had already programmed in Qbasic. But it was still ugly going into pascal. :-/ My best friend had a hard time getting started in pascal and eventually dropped out of programming 1. TSK TSK. Now the school teaches VB on 2k. I'd say they are going downhill. :-D
          • by Joey7F (307495)
            Funny story for ya. When I was in high school (way back in 1999) we used VB. My father asked if we were going to learn PASCAL (as that is what he grew up on) I looked at him dumbfounded. Realizing how far behind the times he was, he asked "What is PASCAL passe?"

            To which I said, "More like blasé"

            --Joey
            • Re:Redundant??? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Atzanteol (99067) on Friday June 13, 2003 @01:43PM (#6193321) Homepage
              Ahh, the good old teenage "Well, I've never used it, and don't know where it's used, so it *must* be obsolete!" attitude. You use 'PASCAL'? How ten years ago!

              What's wrong with PASCAL? I'd rather learn on PASCAL than VB anyday. PASCAL looks more like C++ and Java (and C#) than VB does. Learning VB from any other 'decent' language is a snap. But learning C++ or Java from VB is a pain in the ass.

              Students should be learning with a command line. No GUI apps to start. Learn from the ground up. Otherwise you'll be able to do things, but not necessarily understand them.

              And yes, I still believe in teaching assembly...
              • Re:Redundant??? (Score:4, Insightful)

                by cgreuter (82182) on Friday June 13, 2003 @04:58PM (#6195468)
                Students should be learning with a command line. No GUI apps to start. Learn from the ground up. Otherwise you'll be able to do things, but not necessarily understand them.

                The problem is not with GUI-based languages; it's with tools that hide their inner workings from you. VB is like that but so is VC and MFC.

                Smalltalk, on the other hand, is also purely GUI-based but it's also completely transparent. The entire system--including the GUI (usually)--is written in Smalltalk and you can browse it and modify it just like any other part of the system.

                (A good open-source Smalltalk system is Squeak [squeak.org] if you're interested.)

                I get the impression from looking at M$-ware that they have divided the world into rulers and peons with their developers in the ruling class and the customers as the peons. When this extends into their development tools it's either "this is too hard for you to understand" (in the case of VB and the like) or "you don't need to know this--just read the API documentation" for VC. Whether or not a GUI is involved is relevant only in that MS seems to be trying to get rid of the CLI.

                If I were teaching a programming course, I would avoid MS tools (and those that try to emulate them) like the plague.

            • Re:Redundant??? (Score:3, Informative)

              by Arker (91948)

              To which I said, "More like blasé"

              Ahh the arrogance of the ignorant.

              Pascal beats your silly VB toy in every way imaginable. Go get Delphi [borland.com] , buy a good book on it, and learn something.

            • Re:Redundant??? (Score:3, Interesting)

              by quasi_steller (539538)

              I learned Pascal and QBASIC at the same time. I tought myself QBASIC because it was what I had at home, and I learned Pascal in high school (that was back in 1998). Needless to say, the language that helped me learn all of the important stuff was Pascal. Pascal is very a very structured procedural language. QBASIC makes it too easy to write spaghetti code, and VB just, well, sucks. I believe that it would benefit all beginning programmers to learn on a language like Pascal, so moving to a real producti

      • You know, flame all you want but we all know everyone started in this programming language.

        Not me. I started with Applesoft [applefritter.com] (and played with the Integer Basic a little), then 6502 assembly (Applesoft was slow), then USCD Pascal (while I dabbled with Gra-forth.) Then I replaced the Apple ][ with an Amstrad PC, and got Turbo Pascal and dabbled with Prolog.

        Sometime later I got an account on the Suns at school, where I discovered some languages that I still use today ...

        • Then I replaced the Apple ][ with an Amstrad PC

          Note that I didn't replace the Apple ][ so that I could program in new languages (but it worked out well.) I did it solely so I could play this [uo.com], which was the first Ultima not available on the Apple II. Curse you, Lord British. 48k not enough for you?

          And I should have added this to the original post, but yes I do know that Applesoft and Qbasic are fairly similar, both being BASIC.

          • If you like Ultima check this [u5lazarus.com] out.

            A group of grad students in Purdue's CG dept are contributing to a remake of Ultima V. They asked some undergrads (one of them being me) to help them out with various aspects of recreation, like textures or worldmap modeling.

      • Gawd no,

        Started with Logo, and then HyperTalk. Then I leard Commodore Basic and GW-Basic. By the time QuickBasic (QBasic is just QuickBasic with no compiler) came around, I was already using Borland C.

    • "Isn't "QBASIC Programming for Dummies" a bit redundant?"

      Q.) What'd the farmer say when he couldn't find his tractor?

      A.) He said: "Where's my tractor?"

      Man, I hope whoever modded the previous post gets around to mine. I should be at +5 in no time!
    • Page 1 (Score:3, Insightful)

      by numbski (515011) *
      "Close this book and burn it. Go buy O'Reilly's elephant book, and learn PERL instead." :P

      Seriously, I learned QBASIC, and it had me so brain damaged for so long that it took me forever to grasp PERL, and I've still never quite gotten Java, even though I took a college course on the subject.

      Stay faaaaaar away from anything with the word 'BASIC' in it. You've been warned.
      • Seriously, I learned QBASIC, and it had me so brain damaged for so long that it took me forever to grasp PERL, and I've still never quite gotten Java, even though I took a college course on the subject.
        This same idea came up in the "what to start kids on for programming" article, and a lot of asked, what's all this about? How does it damage you? Yeah, you're thinking like a scripter rather than in subroutines or objects, but so? It's still an introduction to breaking up a process step by step....

        Frankly,
      • by WIAKywbfatw (307557) on Friday June 13, 2003 @12:15PM (#6192244) Journal
        Stay faaaaaar away from anything with the word 'BASIC' in it. You've been warned.

        Where were you when I was 10 years old in my hobby shop buying my first Dungeons and Dragons set?
      • Re:Page 1 (Score:3, Funny)

        by Hornsby (63501)
        Please stay as far away from PERL as possible! Perl, on the other hand is a useful programming language. If you're confused, Perl is the language proper, perl is the interpreter, and PERL is that god-forsaken language that Matt writes all his scripts in.

        If you want to learn to program, I would suggest starting with something a little more structured like Python or Ruby. Both of those languages are near to my heart.
    • Isn't "QBASIC Programming for Dummies" a bit redundant?

      Apparently not, didn't you read the review? You need to be a dummy with a PhD!
    • It most certainly is not redundant.

      One line.........

      10 OPEN "COM1:" as #1

      explains it all. For RS232 work, QBASIC is gold standard for me.... For exerything else.. Forth baby!!!!
  • by Prince_Ali (614163) on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:32AM (#6191724) Journal
    Chapter 1: That game where the snake eats the numbers.
    Chapter 2: That game where the monkeys throw bananas at each other.
    Chapter 3: That game..
  • QBASIC ?? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by makapuf (412290)
    Why, I mean, why ?

    if it's in a corporate world, flee while it's time
    else, why not use python as a first language ? or, Java ?

    I mean, you could learn something simple, like, LISP ?
    • Re:QBASIC ?? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonvmous Coward (589068) on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:48AM (#6191932)
      "if it's in a corporate world, flee while it's time else, why not use python as a first language ? or, Java ?"

      Programming is a rather abstract concept. Best to start with something where you don't have to trip over stupid things like case sensitivity or declaring variables.

      Nothing wrong with starting with Basic.
    • And why is /. posting reviews of programming books that are nearly a decade old, out of print, and for products that are essentially no longer available? Sure, there are some older programming books that are still good, but most of those are at least still in print. Kerringham and Ritchie's book [amazon.com] on C - an immortal classic. Zen of Assembly Language? Priceless (but rather hard to find). I realize there was a discussion the other day about "first programming languages" and the modern lack thereof, but are
  • by Anonymous Coward
    You bought the book so im starting to wonder who realy is the dummy?

    Actualy I have read several of those books, the one on linux was a decent read for a noobie.
  • QBasic (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nogoodmonkey (614350)
    We are reading book reviews from books written in 1994 now?

    I never understood why they did away with line numbers in QBasic. Seemed like a very big part of GWBasic.
    • I know you're probably kidding, but just as a piece of nerd trivia: There's nothing stopping you from using line numbers in QBASIC if you want to. They just get treated like any other labels.
    • You can use line numbers in QBasic. Of course, the reason to remove them is that it becomes impossible to maintain your code when you've got lines 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, and need to insert a line between 64 and 65. ;)

      For what it's worth, I learned on QBasic and think it was a really good starting point.
    • Re:QBasic (Score:3, Informative)

      by LostCluster (625375)
      The reason why the did away with line numbers is that they became irrelavant. With QBasic sharing its interface with the DOS Editor, it was just much more logical to assume that the lines were already in proper order rather than have to rely on numbers to sort them. (GWBasic lacked any way to move up and down between lines.)

      From there, the only lines that actually still needed their numbers were the lines that were called by name in a GOSUB or GOTO line, and there was no reason to limit the "line number" t
    • Line numbers never went away from BASIC, they just aren't required any more. I'm not sure if VB.Net supports line numbers, but VB6 does. It is actually pretty useful for debugging with the ELN function, which returns the line number the error occured on. There are tools out for VB6 that automatically add and maintain your line numbering for you just for the purpose of debugging.

      And yes, I do use Visual Basic when I need a quick GUI/database app.
  • go ahead and laugh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cr@ckwhore (165454) on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:33AM (#6191742) Homepage
    Go ahead and laugh, but I work for a company that still writes/maintains qbasic software and sells it to unsuspecting clients for $50,000 bucks a pop. I think we need a "software purchasing for dummies" book.

    • Go ahead and laugh, but I work for a company that still writes/maintains qbasic software and sells it to unsuspecting clients for $50,000 bucks a pop. I think we need a "software purchasing for dummies" book.

      More like a "leaving your cave for dummies" book.

    • OMG

      I was really impressed with companies selling software written in Pascal (including DB engines ), but QBASIC is on another league completly.
      • Why? Pascal isn't a toy language. It's been used for real work and real applications often within real companies for a long time.

        I wouldn't say QBasic is a toy either, but it's certainly not as useful as it was in the days most folks with a PC ran DOS console apps. Pascal, on the other hand, has kept up with the times as far as libraries and the like. You can write full-own GUI apps that use the OS's native GUI library.

        Yes, I know you noted that Pascal was in another league, but in a way to imply that
    • by reallocate (142797) on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:56AM (#6192020)
      Ummm...I've been involved with more than a few folks spending great chunks of money on software and can't recall any of them ever asking what language was used. Or, frankly, needing to ask. What they need to know is the vendor's track record, financial status, support record, etc. Companies care that problems will be fixed per their schedule, not the language used to code the stuff in the first place. Buying a $50,000 QBasic program is just fine as long as the vendor can provide QBasic coders.

    • by nicomen (60560) on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:57AM (#6192039) Homepage
      Cool, you work at Microsoft? How's the salary? I'm considering applying for a job there.
    • This wouldn't happen to be point-of-sale software, would it?

      Having worked for a POS company in the not-too-distant past (who develped in Business Basic on UNIX and -- gasp! -- SuperDOS), I can't believe the prices companies will pay for the stuff. It's simply insane.

    • by Mr_Silver (213637) on Friday June 13, 2003 @12:17PM (#6192278)
      Go ahead and laugh, but I work for a company that still writes/maintains qbasic software and sells it to unsuspecting clients for $50,000 bucks a pop. I think we need a "software purchasing for dummies" book.

      Am I the only person who sees nothing wrong with this?

      As long as the application does what the client wants, is bug free, works well, easy to use and saves them money - who cares what it is written in?

  • What is next (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Fizzlewhiff (256410) <`moc.liamtoh' `ta' `nonnahsffej'> on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:34AM (#6191754) Homepage
    A review for MS-DOS 5.0? QBasic hasn't been included with Microsoft operating systems since they stopped selling DOS if I am not mistaken.
  • by Omni Magnus (645067) on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:34AM (#6191757)
    I can't even count how many educational institutions use QBASIC to teach programming. With QBASIC, you can learn the fundamentals very easily, and that is why it is still used. Granted, these fundamentals are being taught in junior high and sometimes at high school. If he is reading about QBASIC he probably isnt a skilled programmer and he is just starting out, and that is what he needs to do, start with QBASIC.
    • I can't even count how many educational institutions use QBASIC to teach programming.

      Maybe if the schools were better you could count them. :-P

      It might be better to pick up a language that is more commonly used though. For instance C would be a decent language. Once you learn the simple IO libraries you can do some fun stuff. You can then learn about all the basics of programming like flow control, functions and such.
    • I think that is a horrible idea, though. Start with C, java, or even python as a first language. Although perhaps they might not be the best for first programmers (I think they are just fine), you will actually leave with a skill. I went to a college many years ago that only taught qbasic. I skipped the programming there and learned C. I'm much better off because of it.

      -Sean
  • Q-what? (Score:5, Funny)

    by jabbadabbadoo (599681) on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:35AM (#6191761)
    "The book started off making me feel stupider than I actually am."

    I would feel pretty stupid actually reading a QBASIC book in 2003. Modern programming languages are easier to learn than QBASIC.

    In short:
    10 PRINT "QBASIC SUCKS"
    20 GOTO 10

    • Re:Q-what? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Tablizer (95088) on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:47AM (#6191910) Journal
      I would feel pretty stupid actually reading a QBASIC book in 2003. Modern programming languages are easier to learn than QBASIC.

      They are? By what reconning? These days they turn this:

      print(a + b)

      Into this:

      am = new math.ArithmeticManager()
      opA = new math.Operand((float) a)
      opB = new math.Operand((float) b)
      am.addOperand(opA)
      am.addOperand(opB)
      am.operator = new math.operators.Addition()
      am.executeMathOperation()
      system.io.output.print(am.mathOperationResult())
    • Why put a label on goto line?

      10 ? "QBASIC SUCKS" : goto 10

      As for programming languages, which one do you have in mind? C++, Java or Pascal are definitely much harder to get started than Basic.
  • Here ya go... (Score:5, Informative)

    by nbvb (32836) on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:35AM (#6191765) Journal
    Want a *good* book on QBasic?

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/15 56 153406/qid=1055522032/sr=1-3/ref=sr_1_3/002-837483 1-7720813?v=glance&s=books

    there ya go.

    Running MS-DOS: QBasic by MS Press.

    I'm *NOT* a fan of Microsoft, but this IS a well-written book that covers the QBasic language well.

    I used this many years ago when I wanted to modify the source code to VirtualBBS 6.12 (Remember that mess?)
  • by ecc0 (548386) on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:35AM (#6191769)
    "Making your own Apple I keyboard in 21 days"

    "Changing Vacuum Tubes in your ENIAC for Dummies"

    "4004 Assembly Made Easy"
    • >>"Making your own Apple I keyboard in 21 days"
      >>"Changing Vacuum Tubes in your ENIAC for Dummies"
      >>"4004 Assembly Made Easy"

      What is this? A post to the prototype of usenet that got lost in the seventies, but that now have magically found its way through an electronic wormhole to /. ?

  • by Kenshin (43036)
    "The book started off making me feel stupider than I actually am."

    1) QBASIC? That's so 1992...

    2) You bought a DUMMIES book for QBASIC. It's like buying a Dummies book for cooking Kraft Macaroni.

    • "1) QBASIC? That's so 1992...

      2) You bought a DUMMIES book for QBASIC. It's like buying a Dummies book for cooking Kraft Macaroni.


      1.) So? He's trying to understand what programming is, he's not trying to run out and get a job as a software engineer.

      2.) Can't say that comment was particularly insightful. QBasic is programming, like it or not. It may not be as efficient or structured as the competitors of its day, but it's still something that requires study to learn.

      So I guess what I'm really saying
    • Have you ever seen anyone screw-up Kraft Cheese and Macaroni? It is possible, and a terrible thing when it happens. I tried cooking it in beer once...

      Who says you never learn anything useful in college?
      • Re:Duh? (Score:4, Informative)

        by c13v3rm0nk3y (189767) on Friday June 13, 2003 @12:08PM (#6192174) Homepage
        I tried cooking it in beer once...

        Tip: don't cook the macaroni in beer, but use the beer in the cheese and dairy mixture. Just heat it up in a saucepan (you can do this in the hot saucepan you just cooked the pasta in) and you have an excellent beer-cheese sauce. Reduce the amount of other liquid, of course, or your creation will be runny.

        Stronger beers work better. Pretend pilseners like Bud will not be so good.

        Remember: don't play with cheese sauce powder near an open flame. Unless you know what you are doing. And like setting things on fire. And second-degree burns. But only then.

  • Who the heck uses QBASIC?!? Not even QuickBASIC, the compiled version -- but the QBASIC interpreter? Perhaps as a first programming language it wouldn't be TOO bad... but where would one even find the interpreter anymore?

    QuickBASIC was an interesting product in its day, except for the fact that the simplest programs were bloated by about 400% due to the overhead of all the standard libraries in the runtimes. Or you could create a "Standalone EXE" which contained the minimum necessary procedures. (If only V
    • it pays to learn C and Java as your first structured and OO languages,

      Just to clarify, you aren't claiming that C is OO, are you - you mean "structured and OO language, respectively" right? That's okay then... Yeah, I'll go with that, although C++ is pretty damn good as an OO language, especially for someone who knows C.

      following up with VB

      Why would people move from good, useful languages that they have the hang of, to use VB? I'm not trying to MS-Bash here, but what use is VB if you are a


  • ... but if it teaches you how to modify the banana into a "Redemer" type weapon and render the Gorilla in 3D, I'll buy it.
  • Wow! (Score:3, Funny)

    by meringuoid (568297) on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:39AM (#6191806)
    You know, I've seen many a troll in the comments, but never before have I seen one actually posted as an article.
  • Don't buy Dummies books for languages. Period. If you can, try to find the O'Reilly Windows 95 in a Nutshell (yes, Windows *95*) book somewhere; it looks from the index like it has about 20 pages on QBASIC.
    • Don't buy Dummies books for languages. Period. If you can, try to find the O'Reilly Windows 95 in a Nutshell (yes, Windows *95*) book somewhere; it looks from the index like it has about 20 pages on QBASIC.

      Not really, I think that dummies book for languages are quite good when the languages are not computer languages, for example, their 'German for Dummies' is quite good...

  • ... OS/360 for dummies! Comes bundled with the Hercules [conmicro.cx] emulator and DASD images. Money back guarante efor people who could not grok mainframes after 21 days.
  • I was a fan of "C how to program". I thought it was a gentle book. My professor had nothing but bad things to say about Dietel's JAVA book, and I can see why. Its heavily applet based so there is a lot of "bulky" support code around the stuff you really care about.

    Why am I mentioning this? The QBASIC "Currency Converter" program reminds me of Dietel's example program for RMI. MY GOD! It was like 10 pages of pain! ANd it was only mildly useful- it was about WEATHER report updates! who cares? Some of my
  • Some colleges still teach QBASIC as a first programming language. Not in CS, but for some business or IS types. Instructors love it for simplicity. Some of the very well done textbooks are good for reasons other than they are just QBASIC books. Some of the textbooks are just good intro programming books. Unfortunately, they are a dying breed. Some of the textbooks have not been updated in over 5 years, but they stay in print. Perhaps because QBASIC (and predecessors) were around so long, these textbooks and
  • by Lxy (80823)
    but does it run (on) linux?

    Ok, to make a serious point, is there a QBASIC interpretor for linux? I have some code that I don't want to bother re-writing in C, and I want to first get it working on linux then re-write it as I have time.
  • QBasic for dummies: Because everyone on slashdot runs a windowless version of DOS, right?

    *crickets chirping*

    RIGHT?

  • by halivar (535827) <bfelger.gmail@com> on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:44AM (#6191877) Homepage
    For all those folks ranting at WHY someone would want to learn QBasic, I like to consider myself a QBasic "success story."

    WAY back when when I got my first computer, DOS was this wierd arcane alter-world from Windows 3.1, I found QBasic. It CAME with my computer. I didn't have the internet, so free, downloadadable compilers were not an option. For me, QBasic was my only link to the programming world.

    I never had a book, btw, so all I had to learn BASIC was a vague memory of LET and PRINT commands, and the help file. The help file was awesome. It is, to date, the only good docs I have ever seen from MS. After 6 years, I could do stuff in BASIC that my friends who started out in Pascal and C++ could not dream of doing. Why? Because their learning curve made it impossible.

    Before I found QBasic, I wanted to be a writer or a chef or something silly like that. QBasic introduced me into the programming world in which I can now call myself a professional.

    So, I'm going to do something right now that, as a Linux user, I thought I would never do...

    Thanks, Microsoft.
    • I never had a book, btw, so all I had to learn BASIC was a vague memory of LET and PRINT commands, and the help file. The help file was awesome. It is, to date, the only good docs I have ever seen from MS. After 6 years, I could do stuff in BASIC that my friends who started out in Pascal and C++ could not dream of doing. Why? Because their learning curve made it impossible.

      That *was* a great help file.

      And on DOS computers, QBasic/QuickBasic was the one of the best cheap (both in terms of expense and time
    • That help file was so awesome it brings tears to my eyes just reminiscing about it. I learned to program in QBASIC at eleven thanks to that help file.

      The fact that this is possible makes QBASIC the obvious choice for self-taught beginning programmers. But in any other environment, Java is by far a better starting place for newbies.
    • So do I... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by r6144 (544027)
      When I bought my first 386 in 1994 I can only program in Qbasic. I programmed a lot, and it is very interesting.

      But BASIC is really awkward if you want to write structured, maintainable large programs. The largest Qbasic program I have ever written during the one or two years was about 5kB in source code.

      Then I learned Pascal at school, and got hold of a copy of Turbo Pascal 5.5. In a month I switch to Pascal exclusively. Anyway, the programs look cleaner (well, clean for a kid's code, still much ug

  • A Better Choice (Score:2, Informative)

    by Frodrick (666941)

    In my experience, a far better book for beginners than Qbasic for Dummies is The Idiot's Guide to Qbasic. It is very straight forward and much easier for an absolute beginner to understand.

    Setting the Wayback machine a bit further, Perhaps the best "beginner's basic" book that I have ever seen was How to program the Commodore 64 (If you have never programmed a computer before). Although very system specific, it explained concepts like arrays in language a beginner might actually understand.

  • I (vaguely) remember that. INTERCAL designed by people who didn't know it was a joke, IIRC.
  • Hasn't QBasic been dead for years?

    I wrote in it, as a passing interest. I made a few executables of stupid graphic programs (draw moving lines and dots) with our BBS names and phone numbers in it.. That was back in the days of scripting BBS's and other passively fun things..

    Maybe they should have a review of BBS's for dummies, so we can relive other things that are long since dead.
  • by arashiakari (633150) on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:50AM (#6191947) Homepage
    ...when there is PowerBASIC. (www.powerbasic.com)

    16-bit 100% compatible DOS compiler...

    32-bit Console Compiler and GUI Compiler for Windows. Full GUI programs in less than 2k. VERY fast compiled code, very small, no RTL, compile to EXE or DLL. PowerBASIC is really cool. I use their compilers all the time.

    AND they are coming out with a Linux compiler! w00t.
  • by Kevin Stevens (227724) <kevstev AT gmail DOT com> on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:51AM (#6191968)
    "This brings up another grievance I have with it, that being the lack of an accompanying disc. I feel every book on programming with long examples out to come with a disc containing all example programs, so that the reader can tweak and observe them as he sees fit, without typing in five pages of code. The best way to learn is often by example, and discouraging lazy people doesn't help the learning process along." Not having a disk forces you to type the programs in. Even in autotype drool mood, you pick up alot more than copying and pasting code and running it. Lazy people wont learn programming by copying and pasting code. They are the type that will read individual words without comprehending their meaning and 'finish' the book, and say they 'know' programming while absorbing mebbe 1% of the material. At least if they have to sit there and type the code, they might pick up something, and when they inevitably make mistakes in copying it, have to figure out how to fix it, which is a forced interactive process that gets the wheels spinning. In a more advanced type book, like a data structures or design pattern type book you can get away with code on a disc, but in a beginner book I do not think it is appropriate.
  • From SICP:

    It is practically impossible to teach good programming style to students that have had prior exposure to BASIC : as potential programmers they are mentally mutilated beyond hope of regeneration. [E.W. Dijkstra]
  • Qbasic? Why, God, oh WHY?
  • WTF? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by evilquaker (35963) on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:55AM (#6192018)
    HeavyJay writes:
    I'm new to the world of programming...

    and the review (also written by HeavyJay) says:
    I've read countless books and online tutorials on QBASIC, C++, PHP, and other various languages.

    So WTF... you've read countless books on QBASIC, yet you claim to be new to the world of programming and therefore need to read "QBASIC for Dummies"? Something doesn't make sense here...

  • Should that be "QBASIC: Programming for Dummies"?
  • I thought it was long since replaced with vbscript..

    Or did i miss something here?

  • Ummmm, what does Qbasic have in common with Aramaic, Ancient Egyptian, and Latin? Pat, I'll buy a vowel for "dead language"

    I mean, COBOL is lively compared to Qbasic. COBOL is a fucking RAVER compared to Qbasic.

    MS doesn't even include Qbasic in it's OS's anymore. Didn't they stop with Windows ME?

  • QBasic vs. Others (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hendridm (302246) * on Friday June 13, 2003 @12:02PM (#6192093) Homepage
    Hmmm, although I started out on QBasic, I'm not sure it's the best language to start on today. If you're looking to start with a programming language, I think the easiest semi-modern language would be ASP (not ASP.NET) if you already know HTML or Visual Basic *6* if you don't. Some would argue that VB teaches you the wrong way to program, but I think the basic concepts are the same. Avoid .NET. Although I think its a decent platform, it can introduce some unnecessarily confusing concepts that a newbie probably doesn't care about. If I were you, I would seriously consider a beginner book on Classic ASP. You don't need to know advanced HTML to play with ASP output (in fact, most of the books will tell you all the HTML you need, and ASP doesn't HAVE to output HTML, just text), and you will sort of be killing two birds with one stone (HTML + scripting). Plus, some would argue the web is the platform of the future anyway.
    • Don't mess around with any variety or descendent of BASIC as a learning language. You've got one thing right: it teaches you the wrong things to do in a lot of ways. It will only add confusion when a programmer goes on to more complex (perhaps the wrong word here) languages.

      So, I suggest C++. That may sound appauling at first to some, but here's why.

      Programmers absolutely have to know how to work with memory. It's a fact and it's one I think will never change, no matter how abstracted or garbage-coll
  • How, might you ask? Quite simply, my relationship would be significantly less interesting if not for my knowledge of PEEK and POKE. You gotta make sure you know where to PEEK, then where and what to POKE. See! QBASIC isn't dead!
  • Back in the day at Purdue University my first course in Structured Programming used QBasic. The book was written by two fine professors at Purdue University Calumet that I have had the privilege of studying under.

    I just googled the professors name with QBasic and came up with a new textbook at Amazon [amazon.com]. Although I haven't seen it myself I'm sure it will be very useful.

  • People often complain about ratings inflation in /. book reviews but this takes the cake.

    How can the author give such a negative review then rate the book at 5 out of 10?

    What does a book have to do to rate a 2, kill someone?

  • QBasic is still used (Score:5, Informative)

    by dcuny (613699) on Friday June 13, 2003 @12:16PM (#6192266)
    A number of years ago, we decided it was time to move our key entry group off the minicomputer they had been using to a PC-based application. We ended up selecting a DOS based application, and it works nicely, ThankYouVeryMuch.

    The author claimed that it wasn't a QBasic application, but the error messages when it crashes tell a different story.

    The QBasic integrated editor was a real joy, and it's hard to find a good, lightweight equal. Python [python.org] is too big, C++ [bloodshed.net] lacks the "fun" factor...

    Lua [lua.org] with the SciTE [scintilla.org] editor comes close, if only it had builtin help.

    I only stopped using QBasic after repeatedly running into the 32K memory barrier. I moved to Euphoria [rapideuphoria.com], a nice interpreted language. I missed the QBasic editor that I ended up writing a clone for Euphoria [rapideuphoria.com].

    Heck, QBasic left such a mark that I ended up writing a Basic interpreter of my own [sourceforge.net].

  • Get 4.5 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Forkenhoppen (16574) on Friday June 13, 2003 @01:09PM (#6192900)
    If you get QuickBasic 4.5, it comes with a reference book. This book kicks mucho ass. Any other book on QBasic or QuickBasic is simply redundant, because that reference book had anything and everything you ever needed or wanted to know about the language.

    And it's a good read. I remember a track meet I went to in elementary school, where I spent at least half the time reading that book..

    Incidentally, QuickBasic 4.5 has amazing online documentation. Anything and everything about the language is documented in there. Very useful.

    If I were you, I'd go looking around for a used copy of QuickBasic 4.5, and make sure you get the ref manual with it. It's definitely a worthwhile investment, for someone who's just learning, and for anyone who wants to actually do something with QuickBasic.

    For those of you who are wondering "why the heck would he choose qbasic," let me just say this in qbasic's defense. It really is still the best language out there for the average beginning programmer. QBasic's included with all the early Microsoft OSes, so it's on all the old hand-me-downs from yesterday. And it's fun.

    I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for QB. I've used Borland Pascal, which was amazing, but flawed in it's graphics. (BGI was a pain in the ass; everybody wrote their own graphics lib instead.) By comparison, QB's elegant..

    SCREEN 13
    CIRCLE 100, 100, 50, 3 ..was so much closer to the metal.

    Ah, QB.. *sigh*... You were the perfect language, at the time..
  • by antis0c (133550) on Friday June 13, 2003 @01:41PM (#6193296)
    QBASIC was my very first introduction into programming. So long ago, I was on my 286 with MSDOS 5. Couldn't do a whole lot with my computer, it was purchased like so many computers with the intent by my parents to type homework for school, and a hidden agenda to play games for myself.

    Of course, I wasn't playing a whole lot of cool games on my 286 with a 10 meg harddrive, and 1 meg of RAM. So I just played around with MSDOS, tried to figure out how it worked, how programs worked. I started just editing .exe files, wondering what the hell all that garbage meant. For the longest time I thought that there was some actual logic to t he garbage I could interprete and use. After a few weeks though, I learned about source code, compiling, etc. I started playing with QBASIC, but the bundled one with MSDOS 5 would only run the applications, not compile them to native bytecode. Wasn't long, I nabbed a copy of QuickBasic from a friend, and I was compiling little role playing games and other applications.

    I took a Pascal class in 9th grade, and quickly found my calling. Not 2 weeks into the class I was learning how to write x86 assembly using the asm { } calls in Pascal, and inline() code as well. I had cool text fading effects and smooth scrolling, etc. And no, I wasn't learning it from the teacher, they were still on println, I was learning a good bit on my own. Turbo Pascal 7 had a pretty decent help system. I used Pascal quite a bit, especially in the BBS scene, as it was the programming language of choice for BBS software and doors, Telegard, Renegade, Iniquity, Oblivion/2, TriBBS, all written in Pascal. By this time I had moved from MSDOS 5 to OS/2 Warp 3. I was running a telnet BBS software using some of dink's software to create the TCPIP->Fossil emulation. Those were fun times, before the dot coms were stealing money from investors and before we had big government enacting foolish laws.

    I then came across Linux. It was a 1.x version, one of the early Red Hat distributions. Just like today, it was crap. I quickly picked up the SAMs (or maybe QUE) Slackware book that had a CD of the distro on it. I found myself a platform I could start learning C on. Once I got into Linux, a whole new world opened. C, shell scripting, Perl, eventually PHP, I started into Java, and so on and so forth. And the learning never stops. Good times, good times.. Now I have to worry if something I program will be used by terrorists and I'm going to end up in jail for "aiding" terrorists, facilitating the spread of MP3s, or other Copyrighted programs. I miss those days.

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