Joe Hacker Buy (or Read) Hardcore Visual Basic Now Swinish Joe Hacker

Should you buy this book? Maybe, but even if you should, you probably can't. The book is out of print, and will soon be difficult to find anywhere other than eBay, the VB6 MSDN CD, and on the Internet. Nevertheless, I'm going to leave this page intact for nostalgic and historic reasons. If you're sold on the book, maybe you can find it at an antiquarian bookstore.

So let's start over. Should you buy this book? That depends on whether you're a hardcore Visual Basic programmer. Being hardcore isn't about experience (although this book certainly isn't for beginners). It's about attitude. Here's how I describe the hardcore attitude on the back cover of the first edition.

Hardcore Visual Basic is a book for people who like Basic, but don't like limits. It's for people who won't take no for an answer. If you're willing to go the extra mile for better performance and more functionality, you'll have fun with this book.

If you're the kind of skeptical, irreverent programmer this book is aimed at, you're probably not going to be easily impressed by marketing blurbs. So how about this completely unsolicited mail from hardcore programmer Stuart Rackham:

Hardcore Visual Basic answers the hard questions, the ones that only working programmers ask, the ones that stop you dead in the middle of a project. Plus it's a good read. (I've taken to reading it for pleasure rather than out of necessity: very unusual.) It's obvious that the author has been where 'in the trenches' programmers like me have been for the last 16 years.

Well, sure, but e-mail written to the author might not be all that representative. It's true that I often get mail that starts out, "I loved your book" and quickly moves on to "Please help me solve my problem," but Stuart wasn't asking for assistance. He just liked the book. Nevertheless, I understand your skepticism about blind testimonials. So how about this message posted by David Wilner in the Visual Basic Usenet forum:

I had been wading through all the "Visual Basic for Imbeciles" books wishing that someone would write a book for me: a reasonably seasoned software engineer who needed insight into the idiosyncrasies and why's and wherefore's of Visual Basic rather than an intro to programming. Then I happened upon Hardcore Visual Basic by Bruce McKinney from Microsoft Press. The book has been perfect for me. Rarely do I sit down and read a 600 page technical book cover to cover, but I did with HVB and when I was done I was ready to VB with the best of 'em.

David is no shill, and neither is Tim Pearson, who has this to say on comp.lang.basic.visual.misc:

If you don't have Mr. McKinney's book, you should get it. It's a must have for anyone who wants to turn out quality Visual Basic code. I applaud Bruce for putting out a book without the fluff. His book gets down to brass tacks immediately and never strays... What separates his book from the others is that he didn't assume I was an idiot in the first paragraph.

If you're still not quite ready to lay your money down, here's a short review by Gary Cornell, taken from Visual Basic Developer magazine.

I've been waiting for a truly advanced VB programming book--one from which I could learn something--for a long time, and Bruce McKinney's book fits the bill. There has never been a truly excellent advanced VB programming book until this one came out. (Okay there are the excellent Waite Group "How To's" but those aren't systematic.) For example, McKinney's is the only book to really go into the new OLE object model that lets you actually take control of the VB4 environment. The chapter called "The Second Level of Visual Basic Enlightenment" takes you under the hood of VB and is worth the price of the book itself. To be blunt: I wish I had written this book even though I don't think I have the knowledge to do so. Must buy.

Some of this hyperbole is about the first edition. The second edition is not just an update, but readers have had equally positive things to say about it.

Perhaps you're not going to be persuaded by all the testimonials and reviews in the world. You want a sample. Well, if you have VB6 the whole text is available on the MSDN CD that comes with the product. The text isn't very useful without the code, but you can now get that also as part of the VB6 online update.

If that's not enough reasons to read the book, here's one more: It's the only way you're going to meet Joe Hacker, the guy whose visage decorates the top of this page. You'll also learn what the pig is doing in a programming book.

A message from Amazon.comIn theory, you can buy the book now on the Internet. In association with Books, I can offer you Hardcore Visual Basic, Second Edition at a discount. Whether they still carry it is a different question.

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