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Building a better mouse trap
Donovan J., Osborne/McGraw-Hill, Berkeley, CA, 1993. Type: Book (9780078819308)
Date Reviewed: Dec 1 1993

The intended audience for this book is programmers of DOS and Windows applications that use a mouse. Its purpose is to provide a higher level of understanding to enable developers to successfully integrate mouse functions into applications for these platforms.

The text itself consists largely of source code listings, which are also contained on a diskette that accompanies the book. Although the book contains numerous figures to illustrate the programs presented, readers will benefit most by running the programs. Early in the text, the author lists the hardware and software required to do so, and throughout the text, ample instructions are provided to simplify this task. Incidentally, by mailing in the form at the back of the book (no photocopies accepted) and paying a $20 annual fee, readers can obtain additional help on mouse-related topics from the author through his Technical Support Hotline BBS.

The material is divided into four parts. Part 1 consists of 16 chapters devoted to presenting the fundamental aspects of mouse programming. The focus throughout this part is on the development of a high-level mouse function library for DOS applications. Part 2 focuses on building your own mouse cursor. The five chapters that compose this part also address the Super VGA 800 × 600 16-color mode as a secondary topic. Part 2 culminates with the modification of the mouse function library developed in Part 1 to incorporate the material on building your own mouse cursor. In Part 3, mouse programming for Windows applications is presented. Since Windows provides built-in support for mouse programming, the four chapters that make up Part 3 are, in contrast to the earlier DOS chapters, more concerned with using the available facilities than with designing them. Part4 consists of three appendices, containing reference material on the 50 documented Microsoft mouse functions, on the Windows 3.1 API mouse and cursor functions, and on the Windows mouse and cursor messages.

This book fills a niche in the mass market for how-to books on personal computer programming. It is most useful as an introduction for DOS and Windows programmers unfamiliar with mouse programming. Programmers already familiar with this topic are less likely to benefit from this book. The presentation of the material is, for the most part, cumulative, with each chapter building on those that came before. The tone is conversational, and although the author generally succeeds with this style, the text is not entirely free of simple-minded remarks (the description of interrupt processing as a concept that “may set your mind on fire” comes quickly to mind). The programs and the detailed instructions for running them are the best features of this book. The worst feature is the lack of a separate reference section; the author mentions many sources of additional information, but these references are embedded throughout the text.

Reviewer:  D. R. Padgett Review #: CR117445
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Input/ Output Devices (B.4.2 )
Input Devices (I.3.1 ... )
Real-Time And Embedded Systems (C.3 ... )
Concurrent Programming (D.1.3 )
Design Tools and Techniques (D.2.2 )
Miscellaneous (D.2.m )
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