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The ACCU passes on review copies of computer books to its members for them to review. The result is a large, high quality collection of book reviews by programmers, for programmers. Currently there are 1918 reviews in the database and more every month.
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Title:
Professional MFC with Visual C++ 5
Author:
Mike Blaszczak
ISBN:
1 861000 14 6
Publisher:
Wrox Press
Pages:
1061pp+CD
Price:
£56-49
Reviewer:
Richard Blundell
Subject:
advanced c++; microsoft; MS Windows
Appeared in:
10-3
This is a nicely presented book - hardback, with a stitched binding rather than the normal cheaper perfect binding that lets all the pages you use most often fall out. It also has a fairly low typo count. This is the third edition of the book, although each edition has changed significantly as the compiler and MFC have been extended and improved and the 'Professional' in the title applies to the presentation as well.

At over a thousand pages, it is also a big book covering a lot of ground in some depth (in fact with 24 pages of contents and 75 pages of indexes, I was surprised to find an index entry 'Active Template Library - see ATL' and no entry for ATL!). Blaszczak worked on the MFC development team and so has an understandably high opinion of the product ('one of the finest class libraries available today') with which others may understandably disagree. The author's writing style is light-hearted and this sometimes extends to puns in section headings, which can reduce their value in places.

The book covers MFC 4.21 and VC++5 including use of its wizards and is therefore pretty much up-to-date. Main areas explained include the IDE and wizards, the application architecture (Document-View, etc.), user interface (dialogues, common controls, etc.), the Windows shell, utility classes, multi-threading, databases, OLE clients/servers, ActiveX controls and Internet classes. I found the range and depth of coverage good and the author urges you not to fear exploring the MFC source code. This is frequently necessary because MFC makes it easy to do things the way Microsoft wants you to do them and often quite difficult to do them any other way because of methods not being declared virtual, undocumented features, hard-wired functionality and so on.

The CDROM (which took five minutes and a Stanley knife to extract from the pocket in the hardback back cover) contains all the code, as well as an HTML version of the book, which saves you from carrying the book around with you even if it is not as easy to browse. This is a great book for those already familiar with Windows programming. I read it having used MFC for some while and I wondered how I would have fared if it were my first introduction to the subject.

If you are using MFC and/or VC++5 at work I would recommend you get a copy for the office. If you are tinkering at home then you may have to justify the price; although used in conjunction with the on-line help (the book doesn't duplicate information in the help files such as method lists and method parameters, etc.) it is the best reference I have seen on MFC.