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QBASIC Programming for Dummies 630

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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  • Here ya go... (Score:5, Informative)

    by nbvb ( 32836 ) on Friday June 13, 2003 @12:35PM (#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?)
  • Re:What is next (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 13, 2003 @12:42PM (#6191854)
    QBasic was included on the windows 95 CD, but not installed by default. NT has it installed by default. Not sure about 98 or 2000 and up.

    But yeah, I agree with your point... learning to use qbasic is about as useless as learning VAX assembler.
  • A Better Choice (Score:2, Informative)

    by Frodrick ( 666941 ) on Friday June 13, 2003 @12:44PM (#6191887)

    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.

  • by arashiakari ( 633150 ) on Friday June 13, 2003 @12:50PM (#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 FroMan ( 111520 ) on Friday June 13, 2003 @12:54PM (#6191991) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • Re:QBasic (Score:3, Informative)

    by LostCluster ( 625375 ) on Friday June 13, 2003 @12:58PM (#6192050)
    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" to numerics so the Line Label of any text you wanted was created instead. QBasic still supported numbered lines for nice legacy compatibility.
  • Re:Duh? (Score:4, Informative)

    by c13v3rm0nk3y ( 189767 ) on Friday June 13, 2003 @01:08PM (#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.

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

    by dcuny ( 613699 ) on Friday June 13, 2003 @01:16PM (#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].

  • Re:What is next (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 13, 2003 @02:58PM (#6193502)
    Here's a scary though. I use Windows XP at work and typed in qbasic in the "run" window. It popped up a small console window with the qbasic editor. Looks like they still include it with the OS after all.
  • Re:Redundant??? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Arker ( 91948 ) on Friday June 13, 2003 @03:22PM (#6193796) Homepage

    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.

  • by Anthracks ( 532185 ) on Friday June 13, 2003 @05:07PM (#6194990) Homepage
    When I first started learning to program QBASIC, I too had the Dummies book and found it nearly worthless. I actually ended up accidentally leaving it on a plane and didn't even care :). Afterward a friend recommended the "Absolute Beginner's Guide to QBASIC" which is now out of print and hard to find, but if you locate it it's an awesome tool for learning the language.

egrep -n '^[a-z].*\(' $ | sort -t':' +2.0