Rexx Programmer's Reference Paperback – Mar 11 2005
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From the Back Cover
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.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.