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C NEWS Issue 1 Volume 1 12-28-1987
_________________________________________________________________________

EDITORIAL:

This is the first issue of " C NEWS ", which is a newsletter written
by the users of the C BBS in Reston, VA. This newsletter is an attempt to
present - in a formalized manner - the latest bug reports, and tips on how
to better use the C compilers that are currently in the marketplace.

This is a users newsletter, and any user is welcome to submit articles
for submission. Also, any bug-reports are most definitely welcome and should
be sent to the C BBS at the address's and number listed below:

C BBS
(703)-478-2146 24hrs a day, 2400-1200, 8-N-1.

NET Mail Address: 1:109/713

Postal Address:
C BBS
C/o BCL Limited
P.O Box 9162
McLean, VA 22102
USA.

If you have a program that you would like to share with others then
send that along with a short note explaining the purpose of the code. Code
submitted for this reason should be well-commented and include a copyright
notice from the author. There should also be a short note, allowing the
C BBS the right to publish it electronically. This newsletter is not for
sale, so there is no question concerning royalties. If this newsletter
ever becomes a pay letter, then over arrangements will be made.

Back to the purpose of this newsletter. After reviewing all of the
mail going back on forth on the National C_Echo on Fidonet. I noticed that
alot of the messages had to do due with bug reports, and with requests for
information on the best compiler, editor, and what books to read. This
newsletter is an attempt to fill those requests. I personally use four
different C compilers, and have close to 25 books on C programming. So
I am putting together a compilation of my thoughts on each of those
compilers and the books. The opinions expressed are entirely my own, and
all of my experience is based in the MS-DOS world. I am not a C programming
wizard, and hope that other users who are will step forward and contribute.

So don't be too harsh on my writing, and write or send netmail if you
have some suggestions on how it can be improved.

Regards,

Barry C. Lynch
Sysop - C BBS


C NEWS Table of Contents 12/28/87


Section Subject Page No.

I Compilers
- QuickC Version 1.0

II Book Reviews
III Closing Commentary in CNEWS Volume 1.


C NEWS Section I - Compilers 12/28/87

Product: QuickC Version 1.0
Manufacture: Microsoft Corporation


Major problems: The current version of QuickC has a known incompatibility
with a certain ROM chip on Western Digital Hardisk Controllers. The Rom
Number is: 62-000043-010. The upgrade to ROM 62-000094-xxx which solves
this problem is $25 from Western Digital Technical support.

Minor problems: None that I can substantiate at this time.

Thoughts:

The biggest problem that a new user will face in deciding what
compiler to use; is what am I going to use it for? Basically, the
current compiler breaks down into two types of users: Small-medium
size software developers and hackers. And large software-design
houses that market professional, commercial packages.

QuickC is geared towards the former, it's integrated environment
is extremely helpful for new users to C and compiled languages in
general. I personally found the juggling of C syntax, editor commands,
compiler commands and options, linker commands and options and < If you
have one > , symbolic debugger commands/options a little tough to carry
at first. I originally started my C programming with Microsoft C V 4.,
and have since moved to QuickC. I am a "budding" professional software
developer, but at this time I need to be spending my time learning the
language and not all of the options and the myriad of permeations of
each.

One big benefit of QuickC is the ability to port your code to it's
bigger brother - Microsoft C version 5. MS C V 5.0 comes with QuickC
by the way, and therefore, provides the nice integrated environment
with the upward compatibility. I am using QuickC to write the
beginnings of my code and after I am satisfied with the results I will
compile with MSC v 5.0. This is the an excellent arrangement if you
can afford it. MSC V 5 is not cheap, around $260 mail order with the
Programmers Connection being as good a source as any.

QuickC also has the ability to work with Codeview(tm), the
excellent symbolic debugger from Microsoft that was originally
packaged with MSC V 4.0. If you are a beginner at C you will love
this feature. Codeview has saved me numerous hours in chasing down
logical errors, as well as highlighting some very sloppy coding at
times.

QuickC itself has about 3/4ths of the capability of Codeview
built in. For most development work this will be adequate. If you
need to use all of Codeview, then you can compile a version of your
program with QuickC from the command line that will work with the
version of Codeview supplied with MSC 4 and 5.

C NEWS Section I - Compilers 12/28/87

The libraries that come with QuickC are identical to the ones
that are shipped with MSC version 5.0 These libraries feature new
graphics support and new Terminate and Stay resident (TSR's) routines.
Once again the link between QC and MSC V 5 is very handy and useful.

I'll close by saying that the Hardisk problem that plaques
QuickC right now is unfortunate - because it really places a cloud
over a rather well put together package for it's intended audience.
However, according to the tech support people at Western Digital the
ROM chip in question is only on older hardisk controller's and that
a replacement is available. QuickC is a good buy for beginners who
think that they might want to move up to MSC V 5 someday, or those
beginners that need a symbolic debugger.
C NEWS Section II - Book Reviews 12/28/87


Introduction:

This section is meant to highlight some of the books that are
available currently in regards to C programming. Due to my experience
most of the books will deal with the MS-DOS environment. I apologize
for the lack of knowledge and ask that others more versed in UNIX/ZENIX
at al. speak up and send in some reviews.

_________________________________________________________________________

Title: C Primer +
Author/s: Mitchell Waite and others.
Publisher: Howard Sams & Company
1-800-428-SAMS
ISBN #: 0-672-22582-4

This is one of the best, if not the best, books on C programming
that a beginning C programmer can own. I know I speak from personal
experience. The "C Primer Plus" is advertised as a "User-friendly"
guide to the C programming language - that it is. The authors style
is free-moving yet covers the material in a manner that can be followed.
Numerous program examples are given, and you are encouraged to type
them in and compile. Topics covered include: Data, C & you, Char Strings,
Operators, I/O functions, If then else, loops, storage classes,
The C preprocessor, Arrays & pointers, structures, and libraries. This
is an excellent text for beginners.

__________________________________________________________________________

Title: The C Programming Language
Author/s: Brian Kernighan & Dennis Ritchie.
Publisher: Prentice hall Software Series
Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 07632.
ISBN #:0-13-110163-3

This is affectionately referred to as the "White Bible", and it
is. This is the original language reference written by the two authors
of C itself. It is not a book that a pure beginner should try to learn
C from. However, it is a book that every C programmer should own in
his/her reference library. There are numerous code examples throughout
the book, and they can be found in text files on numerous BBS's around
the country. All of the standard topics are covered, and as stated
it makes a welcome addition to your reference library.

_________________________________________________________________________

C NEWS Section II - Book Reviews 12/28/87

_____________________________________________________________________

Title: C Database Development
Author/s: Al Stevens
Publisher: MIS Press
1107 N.W. 14th Avenue
Portland, OR 97209
(503)222-2399
ISBN #:0-943518-33-4

A few months ago I was looking for a book on "C Database Design",
and lo and behold, I not only found a book on that subject, but it
was titled that as well. C Database Design is a book by Al Stevens
on how to design your own database, using low-level C functions. There
are plenty of code examples throughout the book. And a complete
application is included: A Consultant's Billing System. Mr. Stevens
attempts to pass on the secrets of database design using his own
version of a database query language, called: CDL - Cheap Database
langauge. My main problem with his book is the use of CDL, I would
have preferred more discussion of generic low level data-base routines
that could have been called from with any C program. As it is, this
database is operated using batch files of all things. This book is
a good buy, but I am sure that a better one exists. The search
continues....

_________________________________________________________________________

Title: Microsoft C programming for the IBM.
Author/s: Robert Lafore
Publisher: Howard Sams & Company
1-800-428-SAMS
ISBN #:0-672-22515-8

Before I discovered the C Primer Plus I lived in this book. Don't
let the title fool you, this book can be used with any C compiler not
just microsoft. Admittedly, this makes thing a little hard to follow
at times, but Mr. Lafore does a good job of keeping the discussion on
C and not MS. The subject matter covered includes: The usual, plus
in some detail, Keyboard & cursor, CGA & EGA graphics and serial
ports and telecommunications. The latter subject is featured in a
small but workable communications routine, that doesn't threaten
Qmodem or Procomm yet it works. His style is exceptional and the
information contained within the book moves along at a nice pace, that
will not overburden the new user. I feel that the title does more
harm to the book than the content, but overall it is worth the
investment.

C NEWS Section II - Book Reviews 12/28/87

_____________________________________________________________________

Title: C Programmers Library
Author/s: Jack Purdum and others.
Publisher: QUE Corporation
7999 Knue Road, Suite 202
Indianapolis, IN 46250
(503)222-2399
ISBN #:0-88022-048-1

This was one of the first C related books that I bought back in
1985. Unfortunately, I didn't particularly care for it then or now.
This book is reminiscent of some of the old school textbooks that I
waded through in college. Dry, terse, and somewhat hard to follow.
The material presented in the book is excellent, topics include:
C Data types, Sorting, General terminal library, ISAM, and a complete
ISAM application - Book Cataloging program. There are numerous
code examples included throughout the book. And they can be purchased
from the publisher on diskette for $ 124.95. Ouch!! for that price
I'll type them in. The material is excellent, but the way in which
is presented and the outrageous price for source listings on diskette,
make this a negative buy unless you have $ 19.95 to toss away. Also,
Que corporation is know for it's excellent books on "How to" most of
the major software applications on the market today. How to C was
not a hit..

_________________________________________________________________________

Title: Reliable Data Structures in C.
Author/s: Thomas Plum
Publisher: Plum Hall Inc.
1 Spruce Avenue
Cardiff, NJ 08232
ISBN #:0-911537-04-X

As with the K&R book, this one should be in every C programmers
reference library. The style is much the same and the content is
excellent. It is a good book for intermediate to advanced programmers,
and an addition to the C primer plus or Microsoft C programming for
beginners. Mr. Plum does an excellent job of outlining the different
types of data structures, with clear consise text, and lot's of
working examples. Some of topics covered are: scalars, arrays, pointers,
structures, dynamic data structures, and files. Excellent reference
book.

C NEWS Section II - Book Reviews 12/28/87

_____________________________________________________________________

Title: C Programming Guide
Author/s: Jack Purdum.
Publisher: QUE Corporation
7999 Knue Road, Suite 202
Indianapolis, IN 46250
(503)222-2399
ISBN #:0-88022-157-7

A bought this book at the same time that I bought the other by
Que corporation reviewed earlier. Compared to C Primer Plus and
Microsoft C programming on the IBM, this book is out of it's league.
With the flood of new programmers to C and the host of new compilers,
this book is hopelessly out of touch. It does not have an easy going
style, and I find the quality of presentation of the material to be
poor. The above mentioned books are roughly the same prices and do
a better job of teaching the same subject.

________________________________________________________________________

Title: Learning To Program in C.
Author/s: Thomas Plum
Publisher: Plum Hall Inc
1 Spruce Avenue
Cardiff, NJ 08232
ISBN #:0-911537-00-7

This book is written in the same style as his previous book on
data structures; terse, and to the point. For some it would be all
they need, others might like the friendly atmospshere of C Primer
Plus. As with his book on Data Structures, the material contained
is excellent and well laid out. Mr. Plum has written the two books,
to go hand in hand as a set. This is an excellent text, and worth
the price if you prefer more of a book to the point.

_________________________________________________________________________


That concludes book reviews for this issue. Some of you will notice
that I have neglected to comment on some of the more popular titles that
are currently available. This due to my not having copies of those
books to review at tis time. If you would like to submit a short
synopsis of your favorite or not-favorite C book to this newsletter.
Then send a file to my BBS via the Net, or call the BBS direct and
upload a file or leave a message in the newsletter area. Some titles
that should be reviewed include:

- Variations in C - Advanced C Primer +
- Profiecient C - QuickC programming
- TurboC programming for the IBM

C NEWS Section III - Closing Commentary 12/28/87

_____________________________________________________________________



This is my first attempt at producing a newsletter, I say that
so maybe some of you will not be so quick to torch me. My plans are
to produce this letter bi-weekly with the following topics covered:

- Compiler Bug reports
- Book reviews
- Magazine Reviews
- C programming tutoral.
- Commentary from users.

If you would like to see other sections added then send me a note
and I will include it.


Happy C'ing.....


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