Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Old New Thing

I also really enjoyed The Old New Thing by Raymond Chen, a long time programmer at Microsoft. This is a collection of his writing, much of it from his blog of the same name, about Windows software development. It ranges from history, to how-to, to humor.

After I finish a book, one measure of how "interesting" I found it, is the number of sticky markers I've added. This book ended up with quite a few.

Although my impression of Windows as a baroque hodge-podge was reinforced by the book, at the same time I also gained a new sympathy for the difficulties of developing software as widely used (and abused) as Windows.

I've already applied one of the small exercises in the book (converting a bitmap to a brush) to Suneido to accomplish a task I've been wanting to do for a long time, but just didn't know a reasonable way to go about it. In the process though I struggled through a typical example of the difficulties in Windows programming. I wanted to find the size of the bitmap - something that wasn't covered in the example in the book. You'd think that would be an obvious, simple thing to want to do. Guess what API call you use? "GetObject". And, of course, it's not under the bitmap section of MSDN, because it works on other things as well as bitmaps. Nor is it linked to LoadImage, although I would think that getting information about the image would be the obvious next step after loading it. It's another one of those things that's trivial once you know it, but next to impossible if you don't. What did we do before Google?

I'm pretty sure I'll be able to apply several other things I learned from this book - definitely a worthwhile book if you're a Windows programmer.

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