Borland's Official No-Nonsense Guide to Delphi 2
by Michelle M. Manning


See Also:

Teach yourself Borland JBuilder in 21 Days
Michelle M. Manning
SAMS Publishing (Borland Press)
387 pages
This is one of the first books on Delphi 2, and especially written for the novice user who may have problems with the manuals Borland supplied. The book is based on "what, why and how" information for a long list of topics. A list of topics is given in the inside of the front cover. Unfortunately, this list seems to be unsorted (or at least is not sorted in any logical way I could detect), so it is just a less-than-useful list of a few dozen topics and their chapter number (no, not sorted on chapter either). Opening up the book gives a better overview of the topics, since each topic has its own chapter. There are 47 chapters, divided in seven parts, followed by two appendices. Each chapter contains information on the "what, why and how" about that specific topic, followed by a "essential summary" that sums up this information. No chapter is more than 15 pages, with an average of 7 pages per chapter/topic; which is an indication of the relative 'depth' of the coverage for each topic. Not very deep at all, but good enough for an introduction.

Part I ("before you begin") offers the "what and how" on installing Delphi 2 and using the on-line help and documentation that comes with Delphi 2.
Part II ("Integrated Development Environment") offers insight in the IDE of Delphi 2 itself, including parts such as the complete menu, component palette, form designer, code editor, object inspector, project manager, object browser, the debugging Windows and finally the environment and project options dialog. Every possible action, option is outlined and explained (if only by a line or two), so this is in fact regular User Manual style information.
Part III ("Building Projects") is like part II, but this time the focus is on *doing* something with the IDE. Topics now include using the VCL, manipulating components, properties and property editors, events, menu designing, object repository (how to store and get objects from it). It also includes information on compiler and run-time errors and debugging and optimising your code.
Part IV ("Object Pascal") contains 9 chapters specifically on Object Pascal, with topics such as the Object Model, access specifiers, routines, units, 32-bit data types, (long) strings), file I/O, memory, multithreading and exception handling. Especially the last few topics are generally considered to be non-beginners, but Michelle is able to explain the "what, why and how" in a way that gives even the beginner a sensible feeling, without going too deep or too advanced.
Part V ("Application Development") is about Rapid Application Development and includes topics such as context-sensitive help, merging menus, OLE (automation), DLLs, OBJs and Version Control. I found some errors in the DLL chapter that may prevent beginners from actually writing operational DLLs with Delphi 2.
Part VI ("Database Applications") offers an introduction in Delphi 2 database applications, with topics such as the Database Form Expert, Database Explorer, ReportSmith and issues like creating tables, connecting to databases and using aliases. All again in the now familair "what, why and how" format.
Part VII ("Deploying Applications") contains the last topic about distributing and installation of your application using InstallShield Express Lite. The two appendices are about VCL Objects (the Components and Controls) and the Delphi 2 extra utilities that are included with the Delphi 2 installation (tools such as DCC32, BRC32, BRCC32, DBD32, KWGEN, HELPINST, etc)

The book does not come with a disk or CD-ROM, probably because the few code examples are rarely more than a few lines of code or clicks.

This is a perfect book, with a lot of breath, for those who've just begun using Delphi 2 (or for those who just don't want to read the manual). All topics are explained in a clear way for beginners who want to learn how to use Delphi 2. As the title indicates, the book can be seen as an addition (or introduction) to the standard Borland Delphi manual set...

(Bob Swart)

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