REVIEW - You Can Do It! - A Beginners Introduction to Computer Programming


You Can Do It! - A Beginners Introduction to Computer Programming


Francis Glassborow




Wiley (2004)




Ian Bruntlett


October 2004



a very good book for beginners.

Months from now a more detailed review will be posted on the ACCU book reviews web site. This brief review is presented now to answer the question "Should I buy this book?".

"Should I buy this book?" Well, if you are a learner programmer or someone who wants to brush up their C++ skills, this is the book for you. It's not perfect but it is a very good book for beginners. Once you have mastered this book then you should consider buying "Accelerated C++ " (Koenig& Moo) or the "C++ Primer" by Lippman& Lajoie. After that then try "The C++ Programming Language" by Bjarne Stroustrup. Take a look at glassborow
or  youcandoit/
for more information.

YCDI! Is a book that will take months to read. It took months to review. It is split into chapters but should have been split up into parts. The first set of chapters provide intense study material and the remainder of the book continues at a gentler pace.

The approach taken by the author (Francis Glassborow, aka fgw) is to explain matters and then provide exercises to confirm that the reader has assimilated the subject material. Fgw thinks that programming is fun and provides tools and libraries (Using the MingW port of the Gnu C/C++ compiler and the Quincy IDE on the accompanying CD) so that the beginner can produce rapid results, boosting the student's morale. The library that comes with this book is called "playpen" and provides a canvas to display things on - this is good because it means that beginners gets something visual to look at early on in their career.

Flaws. One is the lack of Linux support - the book demands access to a Windows PC. This is a disappointment because I have seen plenty of messages on Linux mailing lists looking for help in learning to program. The other flaw is lack of information in using an interactive debugger. Another flaw is that fgw insists on pulling all the standard library names into the global namespace - the "using namespace std" command is an aberration and should not appear in a programming book. It is one of the few places where fgw provides bad code that has to be unlearnt later.

The book gives an authentic programming experience, the reader has to dig for certain details to get things going. If you are a complete beginner (with no one to help you) then I would suggest you join the

mailing list and ask questions there.

VERDICT: Highly recommended for beginners and intermediate C++ programmers.

Book cover image courtesy of Open Library.