Height of overconfidence, I thought I could learn VC++ 5 in a month !!


I have a emotional connect with this CD. It came with the book Using Visual C++ 5 (Special Edition). I still remember the day when I walked into a bookstore in Dadar(Mumbai) with my father and asked him to buy this book for me. I had recently become comfortable with Foxpro 2.5, and my next target was Visual C++ 5, because I had heard that VC++ programers get paid like crazy. I still remember the surprised look the bookstore owner gave me when I enquired for this book (I was in 11th grade then). I don’t think he knew anything about programing, but he had definitely sensed the over-confidence in me. My dad just brought the book and we came home.

The next day, I started reading the book hoping to learn few things about VC++ quickly. But I was thoroughly disappointed. The book was loaded with reference to Win32 API ,MFC ,ATL ,ActiveX etc. , of which I knew nothing. I tried to read the book over and over again, but could not go past first few pages. It was very clear that I had made a huge mistake. There were no shortcuts here. I was missing some important background. I was thinking of returning the book. Before returning the book I thought I should open the CD that came with book. It had some five ebooks in it. One of them was Greg M. Perry’s C++ By Example. I skimmed through some of the code examples in the book, with hope that I will catch some VC++ syntax from the book, but VC++ was very hard to understand and still felt like a different programing language.

It took some more reading for me to conclude:

  • You can’t skip C++ and learn VC++. VC++ is not an advance version of C++ .
  • There is something called as Win32 API which is written in C. You simply won’t understand a word of VC++ without having some knowledge of Win32 API
  • OOP (Object Oriented Programing) is a big deal and a must have skill if I had to learn VC++
  • MFC, ATL and COM are still higher level constructs, which could take years to learn.

This was a big setback for a impatient guy like me. I started learning C++ from Greg M. Perry’s book. It only taught basic C++ and had one last chapter on OOP. I wasn’t enjoying writing console based applications, but I put lot of effort in learning C++.

Once I completed reading the book, I started searching for easy ways of creating GUI programs. I was even willing to learn a new programing language. This was when I got introduced to some very interesting technologies - HTML/CSS, JScript , TCL/Tk , FLTK , Ezwindows and .NET . I will discuss each one in detail in subsequent posts.