REVIEW: "Learning VBScript", Paul Lomax 
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 REVIEW: "Learning VBScript", Paul Lomax

BKLRNVBS.RVW   20000605

"Learning VBScript", Paul Lomax, 1997, 1-56592-247-6, U$39.95/C$56.95
%A   Paul Lomax
%C   103 Morris Street, Suite A, Sebastopol, CA   95472
%D   1997
%G   1-56592-247-6
%I   O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.

%P   616 p. + CD-ROM
%T   "Learning VBScript"

The preface suggests that this book is aimed at all of 1) Web page
creators with no programming background, 2) Visual Basic programmers,
and 3) hobbyists.  The author has, in spite of the diversity of those
groups, done a pretty fair job.

Chapter one is basically a promotional piece for VBScript, sticking to
the Microsoft party line.  It is slow in getting started, but does
present some solid reasoning, and demonstrates some functions of the
language.  Chapter two, rather ironically, talks about "open"
environments in terms of the very closed Windows system.  These two
sections provide a general introduction to VBScript, but in a random
and limited fashion.

Chapter three begins the real meat of the book with a good
introduction to programming VBScript.  (It occasionally stumbles, as
in the section dealing with arrays versus arrays of variants.)  The
explanation of flow and control structures, in chapter four, suffers
from an overdose of pseudocode and a lack of realistic examples.  Most
of the material on controlling the browser, in chapter five, lists the
window object hierarchy.  Again the examples could be better, and this
lack of short, clear sample code turns out to be an overall
shortcoming of the book.  An instance of this poor exegesis is in the
review of the use of the document.write method to write into an
existing page, or replace it with a new one.  Neither page 204, nor
the later content in chapter thir{*filter*}, adequately explain the
situation.  The element object, dealing mostly with form elements, is
discussed in chapter six.

Chapter seven looks at the ActiveX Control Pad.  Despite the name, the
HTML Layout Control, in chapter eight, is also ActiveX, and it gets
used in a brief example in chapter nine.  Chapter ten reviews date and
time functions.  Another example application, in chapter eleven, uses
mouse events for link context explanations.  Creating simple image
maps is covered in chapter twelve.

Chapter thir{*filter*} is supposed to be about dynamic Web pages, but does
not explain itself clearly.  Validation of form input emphasizes
string operations in chapter four{*filter*}.  Chapter fif{*filter*} has some good
points on debugging, although it starts with an example from which the
error has been removed.  (The error is present in the sample code on
the disk.)  A shopping cart application (of course) is provided in
chapter six{*filter*}.  Chapter seven{*filter*} reviews the determination of
browsers, although there is not much on compatibility.  Appendix A is
a decent language reference and Appendix E looks briefly at server-
side scripting.

In spite of the shortcomings of the book, it provides a decent
introduction to VBScript, even for those without a programming
background.  For those who do know Visual Basic, Lomax points out
differences and limitations.  Hobbyists will probably want more detail
on some topics, but they can start from the material in the text and
then experiment.

copyright Robert M. Slade, 2000   BKLRNVBS.RVW   20000605


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