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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Student Review: Jumping Into C++ by Alex Allain

Image from Amazon.com

     Jumping Into C++ is an expository book written about the computer programming language C++. The book revolves around the fundamental aspects of programming and teaches beginners how to program using one of the major languages. It is very accessible to people with little to no experience with computers who might shy away from reading it.
 
     Jumping Into C++ begins with Alex teaching you step by step how to download and install a compiler to help write and execute your own code. Immediately after, Alex jumps you into very basic fundamentals including If-Statements, Strings, and Variables. Within the first 10 pages Alex gives you enough information to create a simple calculator. As you delve deeper into the book, you will begin to understand the truly great features it provides. After every chapter there is a short mini-quiz to test yourself on the knowledge just recently taught, as well as sample code for you to practice and play with. To challenge your progressive knowledge of the material the book gives you challenges such as “Create the game Battleship.” Nearing the end of the book, you have more freedom to manipulate code with all of the functions and material you have learned.

     I highly recommend this book to any person wishing to learn more about programming or beginning to learn the language of C++. Alex was a teacher at Harvard University so his information and knowledge on the topic is very credible and extensive. Also, Alex being a teacher allows for easier connections to the reader and insight on how to overcome the difficult problems within the field. The literature within the book itself is not very hard, but you must learn some new vocabulary words that refer to programming. There are not many books regarding programming that are wildly relatable and easy to comprehend for novices, so this one is a diamond in the rough. The integration of sample code, quizzes, and practice problems gives opportunities for the many different types of learners to all understand the material at a solid level. If I could improve a single thing regarding the book it would be to give more extensive definitions regarding the new vocabulary words you look up. Some words in the book are glossed over fairly quickly without giving the reader a true understanding of what they mean. The book is fairly good at avoiding this, but you might have to look a few words up in order to comprehend easier.

     The ideal person to read this book is logistical, creative, and attentive to detail. Computer programmers are also very step-by-step due to technological limitations. As you will soon learn while reading this book, a computer will only do what it is told to do. This literal translation makes those attentive types have a much easier time in the early stages of programming. As you go on, your skills will develop however, and it becomes less and less of an issue. Another solid characteristic is to be good at problem solving. Within programming, you will encounter many circumstances where you might need to find an alternate solution, or utilize your knowledge to complete a problem in an uncommon way. 

     If you are uncertain whether or not you might like programming, I would certainly try it out. The skill is one of the greatest you can obtain in this generation and it gives you a deeper insight on how technology is created. I give this book my highest marks because it’s the one textbook you’ll enjoy to read, while learning a major real life application. Even if programming isn’t going to be your field of work, a basic understanding of it will help you immensely in many job environments. Especially with the world vastly increasing in terms of scientific power and technological advancements, the skill to program will become very valuable in the near future.

- Matthew, RRHS Student