The Professional Developer's
Guide and Reference

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January 21, 2002
Jeff Duntemann on
The best general-coverage Kylix book yet.

There are an infinite number of ways to skin any given cat, and when covering a new RAD environment, which one you use depends almost entirely on who your target audience is. Jon Shemitz has written his book for the experienced programmer coming to Kylix from other RAD environments on platforms other than Linux/X. This, I feel, is the source of Kylix's user base: Not the casehardened command-line Unix-lifer gcc guys, but people who have been using Delphi, Visual Basic, or Visual C++ under Windows.

For people like that, it's a natural. Jon begins with a "Hello Kylix!" project to let people get their bearings within the Kylix idea, and then systematically explores the programming language (object Pascal), the environment and toolset (Kylix itself) and finally the underlying platform (Linux, Qt, and X.) People who already have their Unix scar tissue can skip the Linux section, but Windows expatriates will be glad it's there. The coverage of Object Pascal skims the simple stuff and emphasizes the subtleties that most books gloss over: inheritance, properties, class references, and the rest of the OOP machinery that far fewer people understand than claim to. (For that part of it, I recommend this book even to people who are sticking with Delphi under Windows!) The Kylix coverage, again, goes for depth: The section on threads is clearer than anything else I've read on that topic. The Unix material is well-chosen, and I learned far more about Qt from this book than I did from the Qt doc.

The overall quality of the book is very high. The writing is superb, and the screen shots are well-chosen and clearly reproduced. Scattered throughout the text are "Kylix is not Delphi!" tips, which people coming to Kylix from Delphi had better read. The text is set in smaller type than many "fat books" on programming, so I would guess this 950-page book represents about 1100 pages using conventional layouts. No fluff, good example code, fine index. Finally, APress has at last dropped the CD stuck into the back page. The example code may be downloaded in tarball form from the publisher Web site.

My recommendation? No matter how many Kylix books you end up buying, buy this one first. Then go for the specialty texts like Eric Harmon's Delphi/Kylix Database Development .