Teach Yourself Borland C++Builder in 21 Days
by Kent Reisdorph and Ken Henderson

This book review was first published in the June/July 1997 UK-BUG newsletter

See Also:

Teach Yourself Borland C++Builder in 21 Days
Kent Reisdorph and Ken Henderson
SAMS (Borland Press)
804 pages (with CD-ROM)

Teach Yourself C++Builder 3 in 21 Days

This book, written by TeamB member Kent Reisdorph with Ken Henderson, is the best book I've seen about C++Builder so far (not that I've seen that many, by the way, but it's just good - even compared to some of the Delphi books I've read).
The book contains 23 days, but some days are really short (day 21, for example, compares C++Builder to Delphi and is only 6 pages long. Methinks day 22 - Building Internet Application - should have been day 21, and the previous day 21 should be an appendix). Depending on your experience with C++ and/or Delphi, individual "days" may take more or less than one day. I have experience in both, and most days took only a few hours for me to read and master. There are some special things a Delphi programmer needs to be aware of when working with C++Builder, so the book certainly has its merits even to experienced Delphi programmers.
The first week (i.e. the first seven chapters or days) is mainly an introduction in C++ and the Borland C++Builder IDE. We get a crash course in C++ object oriented programming, C++ classes, frameworks and the Visual Component Model. We then move on to the C++Builder IDE, with the two-ways tools consisting of the Form Designer, Object Inspector, Code Editor and Component Palette.
The second week is about the VCL components. These are based on the Delphi 2.01 VCL, but with a few small additions and changes here and there. We also learn about project management, and helpful tools such as the integrated debugger and external tools (including how to put tools in the tools menu itself). We end the week with some advanced programming topics such as exception handling in C++Builder.
The third week has days centered around some more advanced topics, such as ActiveX controls and OLE, the C++Builder Database architecture, DLLs, building custom components and the previously mentioned short comparison of Delphi and C++Builder. Two bonus chapters, one on internet programming, and one on C++Builder extensions to standard C++, make it a total of 23 interesting days.
Each day ends with a summary and a workshop - some questions/answers, a quiz and excercises that help to test yourself on that day's material. This can also help if you feel you can skip a chapter (for example, if you have Delphi experience and think you can skip the chapter about the VCL or the Form Designer - just try the questions and excercises at the end of the chapter for that day, and you'll find out for yourself. If you know the answers without peeking inside, you'll know you've mastered this specific day for sure.
The days themselves are centered around a single main topic each. New issues and terms are explained in detail. However, each day is also filled with little tips, notes and the occasional warning that help you along the way - even if you're somewhat more experienced you'll learn from these little gems of knowledge that can only be the result of hours, days (maybe even months) of experience with C++Builder. A prerelease version of C++Builder, probably, as the book also mentions a Project Explorer (pages 359-362) - a tool that was unfortunately removed from the shipping version of C++Builder.
The autorun CD-ROM contains a free trial edition of C++Builder (in case you don't have one already), the sources from the book, some issues of a COBB magazine on C++, and a few Borland documents and a nice AVI file about the Borland Golden Gate architecture. Not the usual trial editions of add-on tools, but I guess it was too early to have those included as well.

All in all, Teach Yourself C++Builder in 21 Days is a great source of knowledge and experience for people who think they know a bit, but not everything there is to know about C++Builder, and want to get started right away. The 14 Days edition is part of the entry-level editions of C++Builder, and once you've read the first two weeks you'll know why. Good choice of Borland. And if you don't have the 14 Days edition, do yourself a favour and go out and buy the full version right now. You won't be sorry, promise.

(Bob Swart)

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