To begin this review, let me begin by stating this book is NOT a "How-To" book in the traditional sense of what one might think of. This is not one of those learn Visual Basic 2012 in 24 Hours type of books or even a book like the Murach series. No. This book is, in fact, what it states, a Programmer's Reference book. The difference being, this book is much like one of my all-time favorite programming books that was released by the O'Reilly Media back in April, 1998 entitled "Visual Basic Controls in a Nutshell." That book became the most important reference book for me throughout my career as a Visual Basic programmer. I darn near wore out my copy of it. While I was teaching Visual Basic Programming at Community College of Aurora, I highly recommended it to all my students who wanted to seriously learn Visual Basic programming. Rod Stephens Visual Basic 2012 Programmer's Reference book reminds me very much of the O'Reilly book that I came to rely on so heavily.
When I read this book, what I think about is my current generation of individuals. Those of us that grew up without the use of the Internet to quickly type in a few keywords and find a plethora of information based on our keywords. We are the generation that learned to rely on the Index at the back of the book for pointing us to the page where we could hopefully find our answers. Today's "younger" generation doesn't understand that. They have grown up in a world that is full of technology and, in particular, the Internet which as I just described can give them a plethora of information regarding any subject.
When I think about what Rod Stephens has done with this book is, he has taken all of the plethora of information and intertwined it with his own experience and expertise to give us a book that is truly a Programmer's Reference book. One that we can pull down off the shelf, look in the Index or Table of Contents, to find just exactly the information we need to know instead of having to sift through all the various links and pages and information available on the Internet.
When you open the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition, and you look up the word "Reference," the first definition stated is, "the act of referring or consulting." That is what Rod Stephens has done in writing this book. He has become a personal consultant for your understanding the many aspects to the Visual Basic Programming Language developed by the Microsoft Corporation. The way the book is written, it is as if Rod Stephens is sitting right next to you coaching you on exactly what you need to know in order to become the best Visual Basic developer you can be. There is no standard "fluff-n-stuff" in Rod Stephens book that you often find in those 24-Hour or "Introduction" books. Rod Stephens gives the information to you in a straight-forward, right between the eyes, here it is type of approach. There is no "Sugar Coating." It is as if you are sitting there at your desk with Rod Stephens by your side and you ask him a question and he just gives you the straight up answer right then and there. No fluff, just the right stuff.
Rod Stephens begins the book by describing in very easy to understand language what the IDE is and how it works. The first several chapters of the book cover what I would call the "Basics" of Visual Basic programming and then ramps up at a very steady, even pace into the more advanced topics. Rod Stephens definitely knows how to write a book that can cover all levels of experience with Visual Basic programming. Not an easy task I must say, having taught the subject at the college level and having to work with those who had never even opened an IDE window to those who had advanced knowledge of other programming languages and were wanting to switch.
Those who have experience working with the Visual Basic Programming Language previously will probably look at the first several chapters of this book and scoff thinking there is nothing new in the pages that can help them because they have all that previous experience. Let me tell you, Rod Stephens had you in mind when he wrote this book. Throughout the entire book there are what I call "Tips & Tricks" that appear in a gray colored box. This is where Rod Stephen's years of experience will trump your particular experience. I can guarantee that you will pick up tidbits of information that you either have forgotten or never knew in the first place. The same is true of the regular text of the book as well.
There is just so much information that is contained within the pages of this book that you will find yourself reaching for it time and time again asking Rod Stephens to be your consultant on any Visual Basic 2012 project you might be starting or working on.
The question every person has when looking for a book to purchase is, "Will I learn anything from reading this book?" I believe the question has already been answered in this review with a resounding, "YES!!!" no matter what your skill level within the Visual Basic Programming world. Will this book need to be read from cover to cover in order to learn what you need? It all depends on your skill level and your experience. If you have any experience at all, then no. Use the book as it was intended, a quick reference guide. If you do not have any experience, then yes, I suggest you start with the first chapter and be sitting at your desk with the Visual Basic IDE open on your desktop or laptop computer so you can follow along. In no time at all, Rod Stephens will have you designing and coding your first Windows Form application, which in my opinion is still very much used within Corporate America to this day. Even in the day of having the Internet and Web-Based software applications, Windows Forms has never really been completely dismissed, although I believe Microsoft would disagree and like to see you move on. What you learn by developing Windows Forms applications can be used to eventually do that sort of work, but everyone has to start somewhere, including starting a new project from scratch. Make sure you have Rod Stephens Visual Basic 2012 Programmer's Reference on your desk or within arm's reach. You're gonna need it!