Al Stevens, C++ Database Development (MIS Press, 1992)
[originally posted 1Feb2002]
Two questions come to mind as to why anyone would be reading a ten-year-old book on database development in an outdated edition written to cater to an operating system that (almost) no longer exists in any meaningful way. (Or why they would be reading a review of such a book.) Those two questions are, first, is it still a valuable book for any reasons other than archival, and second, does it teach the reader anything that might still be applicable in a world whose technology is so far removed from that which was extant when the book was first published?
The answer is yes to both counts. It’s possible that newer editions of this book have belied Stevens’ assertion in the 1992 edition that he would never integrate the code from either this or his previous (C Database Development) book into a Windows framework. More’s the pity if they do, because what Stevens provides us with here is not only a model of good programming technique, but also a ready-made set of programs that can be taken and integrated into a Windows framework. The book itself provides something of it in its own DOS-based GUI class, which provides a starting point for those who would extend the information herein into Windows.
Stevens presents us with the programs to create a part-relational part-object database, but that doesn’t mean the book’s audience should be limited to programmers who want to build a database from scratch. Stevens’ excellent explanation of technique is worth reading for anyone who uses any of the technologies on which Stevens touches—database designers and maintainers, C++ coders of any level of expertise, etc. There is much to be taken away from this book other than its original goal, and that does make it, still, a worthwhile read.
Stevens takes us through the software-modeling procedure step by step while building the PARODY database, and in the process introduces us to abstract design technique. He then goes on to show us the implementation, false starts and all, and most importantly ties all the code snippets shown in various parts of the book together into a coherent application at the end, a step sorely needed in far more programming books I’ve read than I care to remember. Perhaps C++ Database Development’s most important potential market is that of future programming textbook writers; many could take a few lessons from Al Stevens. *** ½