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Rexx Programmer's Reference [Paperback]

Howard Fosdick

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Book Description

March 11 2005 Programmer to Programmer
  • Originally developed for mainframes but highly portable across platforms-from servers to desktops to handhelds-Rexx is an easy yet powerful scripting language that's widely used for rapid application development.
  • Covers Rexx interpreters for specialized functions-object-oriented, mainframe, and handheld.
  • There are 8 different free Rexx interpreters optimized for different platforms and uses. This book shows how to use them all.
  • Shows how to script for GUIs, databases, web servers, XML, and other interfaces.
  • Details how to make the best use of Rexx tools and interfaces, with examples for both Linux and Windows.
  • Includes a tutorial with lots of examples to help people get up and running.

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Product Description

From the Back Cover


Programmer's Reference

Whether you're new to Rexx or are an experienced Rexx programmer, this comprehensive reference offers you what you need to know in order to work with this easy yet powerful scripting language on any level. After a quick overview of the basics of Rexx, you'll move on to more advanced scripting topics such as portable code and optimal coding style.

Later chapters cover the most common Rexx interfaces and tools and introduce and demonstrate how to use Rexx with operating systems, SQL databases, Web servers, and XML. You'll also learn about the many free Rexx interpreters and the unique advantages of each. By the end of the book, you'll have learned special techniques that you can use to make the most of the power and flexibility of Rexx.

What you will learn from this book

  • The entire Rexx language, from an introductory tutorial to advanced features
  • How to script with Windows®, Linux®, Unix®, and mainframes
  • How to interface Rexx to databases, Web servers, GUIs, XML, and other tools
  • Object-oriented programming with the object-oriented Rexx interpreters
  • How to script in the Java environment with NetRexx
  • How to script handhelds running Windows CE, Palm OS®, or Symbian/EPOC

Who this book is for

This book is for programmers on any platform who are either looking to learn Rexx or already use it and want to expand their knowledge of Rexx. A basic knowledge of programming is assumed.

"This timely book is an excellent introduction to Rexx and all its implementations. It truly deserves space on any Rexx programmer's bookshelf."
—Michael Cowlishaw, creator of Rexx

About the Author

Howard Fosdick has performed DBA and systems support work as an independent consultant for 15 years. He’s coded in Rexx for nearly two decades and has worked in most other major scripting languages. Fosdick has written many technical articles, founded two database users’ groups, and is known as the originator of such concepts as “hype cycles” and “open consulting.”

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Rexx book ever July 26 2005
By MMG - Published on Amazon.com
I have used REXX extensively on mainframe and PCs. I have bought about every REXX book and manual I could find in the last 15 years. This book is not only the best REXX book ever, but one of the best computer books. As stated by the author below, the beginning is a very good introduction to all the basics with easy to follow examples. The remainder is excellent at teaching techniques. If you only ever have one Rexx book this should be it. Even if you already have Rexx books, this is a great addition that will not only show you some new things but become your first book to pull for reference. Ignore the negative review below, it's a not only a great diservice to the author, but to people looking for a good Rexx book and the Rexx community. This book is great and I have already sent emails about it to all my clients who use Rexx. Many thanks to you Howard Fosdick!
35 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Author Response April 16 2005
By Howard Fosdick - Published on Amazon.com
As the author, I'd like to respond to the review entitled "Sloppy code, typo's -- unsafe for beginners" that appears below. The reviewer criticizes the book based on only a partial reading of it. As he states, his review is based on what "...I've encountered so far," to page 214. Reading the entire 700 page book yields a different perspective.

As the book explains, its first eight chapters are a simple tutorial on Rexx. Example scripts are designed to be short, clear, simple, and readable. They rely on common Rexx conventions and defaults. They generally exclude variable declarations, error and return code checking, exception routines, and other coding features present in industrial-strength programs. In a tutorial these would needlessly complicate the code and confuse the beginner.

The reviewer appears not to have understood this. The chapters following the tutorial present the advanced features and techniques of Rexx coding that are used in writing the industrial-strength code the reviewer wants to see.

For example, chapter 8 discusses variable scoping and analyzes ways to safely interface routines. Chapter 9 covers how to develop bug-proof code using the debugging and the trace facility, while chapter 10 details how to trap and manage errors with exception routines. Chapter 14 illustrates how to analyze feedback from external commands to develop fail-safe scripts.

To specifically address the reviewer's complaints: chapter 12 discusses the need to initialize all variables in production programs. It also discusses the differing approaches to quoting he raises in his example. (Chapter 12 presents many other "best practices" for writing reliable programs, including a section on common coding errors and how to avoid them.)

The book discusses the reviewer's concern about case-sensitivity in file naming conventions at many points (pages 186, 214, 436 and 519). The reviewer has mis-read the example he cites as incorrect on page 214. The explanation following that code specifically states "This filename may or may not need to be coded in quotation marks depending on which operating system the script runs under. Unix-derived systems like Linux use case-sensitive filenames, so you will typically encode filenames in quotation marks. Windows and related systems do not require quoting filenames; they are not case-sensitive."

Concerning the reviewer's argument on the Leave and Iterate instructions: the book follows expert opinion in referring to these as "unstructured constructs." For accurate, authoritative definition of structured programming, refer to the classic works of Ed Yourdon, Edsger Dijkstra, or Ole Johan Dahl.

What's the bottom line? Is this book worthwhile? During its development the book was reviewed by about a dozen Rexx developers in its entirety, and about three dozen experts - including nearly all the luminaries in the Rexx community - provided feedback on parts of it. While there is plenty of room for differences of professional opinion and coding style, the reviewer errored in not reading the entire book before publishing his emotional, negative review.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth It June 2 2006
By Polly Berg - Published on Amazon.com
This book tries to cover as much about Rexx as possible in one book. It succeeds well considering the challenge.

PROS: Thorough coverage of the Rexx language. Lots of coding examples, good tutorial, very comprehensive reference material. Covers some special topics like interfaces, programming style, error-handling techniques, and portability issues. Includes a lot on Windows and Linux. I had fun with the section on how to program my handheld using Rexx -- yah!

CONS: Contains two-plus chapters on object Rexx, but some more advanced material would be helpful. Found some typos, but nothing important.

CONCLUSION: Just about every Rexx programmer would benefit from having a copy.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars programming REXX Nov. 10 2005
By Programmer - Published on Amazon.com
As a mainframe REXX programmer, I was pleased to find a new REXX book. The book begins with a tutorial on standard REXX features. It then gets into different platforms, interfaces, function libraries and object REXX. The dozen appendices give coding guides to functions, instructions and extended functions. I found the example programs clear enough and easy to run on my pc. The book tells you where to download them from (free). If they come out with a second edition I would like to see more NetREXX examples, tho I admit the book is pretty hefty as it is.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Resource March 18 2005
By SKirkham - Published on Amazon.com
Being a programmer (rather new to Rexx), I would recommend this book to New and Intermediate programmers of Rexx. This book covers Rexx on many platforms. There are many good examples throughout the book. This book is well worth the cost and a great companion to have along side with your other programming reference books.

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